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Friday, June 09, 2006

Support The Crook - It's Important

Anyone who has a passing familiarity with Louisiana politics knows that politicians down 'round there have a reputation for circumventing, bending, and/or flagrantly flouting the law. One of the more infamous of these politicians was Edwin Washington Edwards, a man who is known to the rest of America as the one who defeated David Duke in 1991 to become Louisiana's governor. Many of the bayou's denizens justified holding their noses and supporting Edwards with the slogan, "Vote for the Crook. It's Important."

It is in this mode of thinking that I want to encourage Black folk to support Representative William Jefferson, or more specifically, I want to encourage Black folk to support the Congressional Black Caucus as it pertains to Rep. Jefferson. The naked truth is that Black folks' alliance with and allegiance to the Democratic Party has been producing diminishing returns over the last several decades, such that the Democrats essentially take us for granted and only come by with a speech and a smile during the October GOTV push. Here in Louisville, our Republican Congresscritter brought back more grant money to the Black community in her first term than the previous Democrat had done in the entire 20 years that he was in Congress. Don't get it twisted - I'm still doing everything that I can to return her to the private sector that Republicans like her idolize - but I'm just saying, we need to slap the donkey right good to get their attention.

We have before us a golden opportunity: there's a perfect storm brewing that could allow the Democrats to take back both Houses of Congress. The Senate is a longshot, to be sure, but it is conceivable. The House is definitely in play, and this is where the Congressional Black Caucus can make a play to increase their power in Congress and, of course, our power by extension. Say what you will about politicians - and most of it is true - but most of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus represent our interests fairly accurately, and increasing their power is in the best interests of Black folks.

What does this have to do with Representative Jefferson?

The DCCC, along with Nancy Pelosi, intend on running the 2006 campaign based on Republican corruption - it is, after all, ubiquitous. The easy counter-argument for the GOP would be to point to Representative Jefferson and claim that the Democrats are just as corrupt (which, of course, is about as logical as arguing that a golden shower is just as bad as Hurricane Katrina), so Pelosi and friends want to get rid of Jefferson as quickly as possible to eliminate that Republican counter. The problem, of course, is that there's about 250 years of precedent about how you handle a representative under investigation, and none of it comes into play until a representative is formally charged and/or indicted. Representative Jefferson has not been charged, therefore Pelosi had to prevail upon the good graces of Representative Jefferson to help the party out by making himself scarce. Representative Jefferson essentially told Pelosi where to go and how to get there, and there's little that Pelosi can do about it without violating a ton of precedent and potentially angering a whole lot of Black folk who will surely assert that a Black Congressman is getting singled out simply because he's Black (which, of course, is about as logical as arguing that Marion Berry was singled out simply because he's Black).

This is where we come in.

What we need to do is to phone, email, text-message - however you get down - contact every member of the Congressional Black Caucus and let them know that we support them in this power play. It is especially important to contact Representative Melvin Watt - (202) 225-1510 - the Chairman of the CBC and let him know that Black folk support him and the CBC, that we're willing to go to the mat if the CBC needs to go there. It may come to a point where Black folk have to sit out the 2006 election - Democrats never win without a significant Black turnout, and if we refuse to show up because they snubbed the CBC then that will certainly teach the donkey a vital lesson. The credible threat of such a turn of events should strengthen the CBC's hand to get the concessions that they desire out of Pelosi, and as the rank & file in this power play we have to be prepared to do our part if called upon.

Politics is a contact sport, it's often a nasty business, and sometimes it takes a crooked stick to hit a straight lick. Right now, unsavory as it may seem to some, we need to support the (alleged) crook - it's important.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 5:55 PM

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