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What if the CBC was pro-business?


The Congressional Black Caucus in its short history has basically been a bastion of progressive or liberal thinkers. Of the 42 members who can vote, their record collectively has been on a pro-socialistic direction. All of them are a part of the Democratic Party and will march with President Barack Obama’s agenda regardless of what harm it will do to Black Americans. The Republican Party has one person, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.

(Two other Black Republicans were elected in the November elections–Mia Love of Utah and Will Hurd of Texas. Love has indicated that she is interested in joining the CBC. Her addition would give the group its first GOP member since Rep. Allen B. West, R-Fla., lost re-election in 2012.

“I think I will. I will consider joining because I think that in order to affect change, you can’t do it from the outside in,” Love said. “You have to do it from the inside out. I’m going to see if I can make a difference there.”

Love would also be the first Black Republican woman to serve in Congress, arriving on Capitol Hill with an outsized national following, especially for a House candidate. This bid was her second for Utah’s 4th District. She first challenged Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Texas, in 2012, but the Democrat prevailed by a narrow margin in the solidly GOP district.

Hurd has been invited to join the CBC but as of Nov. 14 was still  “mulling over” the idea.

A former undercover CIA operative, Hurd is Texas’ first Black Republican elected to Congress since Reconstruction.

“They’re great members, and I’m looking forward to working with them,” Hurd said. “Whether or not I join the committee, we haven’t made that decision,” said Hurd in the Dallas News.

Senator Scott refuses to join the CBC.

Two Congresspersons, Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) and Donna Christensen (VI) are not allowed to vote.

Recently, the Small Business Entrepreneurs Council published their annual “Vote Ratings.” The ratings are based on the votes each member made on bills concerning pro-business. This year there have been 20 such bills and the scores range from 0 to 100 percent. I had assumed that hardly any of the CBC members would score 100 percent but there would be some with relative high percentages.

Sen. Tim Scott received a rating of 100 percent. In contrast, Sen. Corey Booker (NJ) received a rating of 0 percent. The highest score received by a CBC member is Rep. Sanford Bishop (GA) at 67 percent. No other CBC member received a rating higher than 35 percent. This is pretty one sided and it makes them quite predictable. We have CBC members with MBA degrees who vote anti-business. It is stunning.

You cannot really be a good negotiator, if your decisions are going to be predictable. Your opponent has a great advantage in knowing how you are going to act. That is a big problem with Black America. A vast majority of us go in the same direction–Democrat. Hispanics and Asian, on the other, hand will vote on the issues not on the party. Consequently, over the years they traditionally get far more consideration from their elected officials. That means they receive better representation because their elected officials know they can be fired.

For the most part, our Black congresspersons are in “safe” districts and once elected, they will stay there until something unexpected happens. Death, indictment, scandal, etc. are the things that usually replace them, not another candidate. There have been a few examples to the contrary, like when Rep. Artur Davis knocked Earl Hilliard from his Alabama seat. From that point on the Democratic Party went after him.

As a people, Black Americans should be demanding much more. We get very little for supporting someone without expecting them to work hard and bring home some results. Our neighborhoods are blighted, and it seems to get worse year after year. Our poverty levels are about the same as they were when the Democratic Party declared “War on Poverty” back in the early 1960’s. Our healthcare remains deplorable and our educational levels are far less than other segments of our nation’s population. Why do we take poor performance so lightly?

Until we start voting out elected officials for nonperformance, there will be no effective leadership representing us.

If the CBC would become at least nonpredictable and start voting on legislation that would enhance business (jobs, health, wealth), our communities would begin changing. Imagine if our unemployment rates were just equal to the national average. Our quality of life would improve dramatically. I pray to see the day that some of the CBC would not follow the Democratic leadership on every issue whether it hurts us or not. There are some who do on a few issues but not nearly enough to make a difference. If it hurts us, why do they go along with it?

They are so loyal but are disrespected. I believe it is more than a coincidence that the wealthy members of Congress are White and the poorest members are Black. How do many of our White elected officials stay decades in office and become multi-millionaires while their Black counterparts stay broke?

Representing wealthy districts makes an elected official wealthy. Representing poverty keeps an elected official broke. The way out of this is to economically empower a district which will make that official economically improve also. Instead of waging a “war on poverty” we need to wage a “love affair with wealth building.” Our preachers do it, and it is with our money!

There is hope. Recently, CBC member Bobby Rush (Chicago) wrote a pro-business bill. He wrote it and immediately got sponsorship from a noticeable number of Republican members along with Democrats to co-sponsor the bill. He is looking like a hero and, hopefully, this could start a new movement by the rest of the CBC. It is time for a positive change. Maybe, just maybe, it can start on Capitol Hill and catch on throughout our great nation.  Black America would change for the better.

Harry Alford is the co-founder, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®.