By CLARENCE MCKEE
It’s increasingly clear that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has become the Democrats’ racial shock troop brigade in the war of obstruction and resistance to President Trump’s domestic agenda.
This is just one more example of the CBC’s pattern of putting the Democratic Party before the problems and needs of its own black and Hispanic constituents. Trump’s remarks on job creation, stopping illegal drugs, neighborhood safety, and provision of meaningful healthcare reform was forward looking and encouraging – especially to residents of inner cities.
On education, he introduced the nation to Denisha Merriweather, a young black woman who was the first in her family to graduate from high school and college saying that education “is the civil rights issue of our time. He went on to say that he was “calling upon members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African American and Latino children.”
Obviously following the orders of the Democratic leadership, most of them sat on their hands during much of Trump’s address.
What did they think of his message, particularly the following? “Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed; Every problem can be solved . . . Every hurting family can find healing, and hope . . . Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job.”
According to a sampling of remarks, not much.
Obama wannabe Sen. Corey Booker, D- N.J., said the speech ” . . . was more of the same fear and factual distortion that President Trump has made central to his campaign, transition, and first weeks in office.”
CBC Chair, Cedric Richmond, D-La., added “. . . If President Trump wants to make the country greater, then these policies and programs and others he outlined tonight are a very bad start.”
Rep. Barbara Lee D-Calif., said of the address that it ” . . . was the most pessimistic and divisive message I have ever witnessed from a sitting president.”
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., asked “Where is his plan to help Americans living in urban areas like Baltimore?”
Keep in mind that these comments come from members of the same CBC that has requested a meeting with Trump. Such remarks certainly don’t reflect any desire to have a meaningful dialogue with the president on issues impacting their constituents or to bridge the country’s racial divide.
That’s one reason I recently cautioned in this space that such a meeting could be a “public and political relations disaster.”
It’s not beyond the pale that such a meeting might be part of a Schumer-Pelosi plot to embarrass Trump with similar negatives spewed in a post-meeting CBC press conference outside of the White House.
Nearly 50 years ago, in 1971, one of the founders of the CBC, William Clay Sr., D- Mo., – who subsequently became a friend – said that “Black people have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies . . . just permanent interests.”
Most of the CBC has apparently forgotten, or never heard of those words of wisdom.
It’s unfortunate that the CBC, like black caucuses in many state legislatures, apparently has no concept of its potential political clout and power within its own party.
As Theodore Johnson wrote in The Atlantic, last year entitled “The Increasing Irrelevance of the Congressional Black Caucus,” “If the caucus wants the best outcomes for black children, it should champion good ideas regardless of party.”
Even more to the point was Nick James’ recent article in The Daily Caller referring to Trump’s promise to rebuild inner cities and bring greater choice to poor youth. He wrote that if the CBC ” . . . had its constituents’ best efforts at heart, its members would offer to partner with the new administration to accomplish these noble goals.”
His conclusion, “If the Congressional Black Caucus continues to fail its core supporters who face disproportionately high levels of crime and poverty, come 2018 black voters should reject these failed politicians and replace them with a new generation of leaders who will do more than just play the race card as stooges for the Democratic Party.
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc.