Why Can't the Congressional Black Caucus Be More Like the Tea Party?
1 year ago
Three reasons why the CBC falls short of the Tea Party's influential status
The Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference began this week in Washington, D.C. celebrating its 41st year. President Obama is scheduled to speak, as he did last year, at the closing dinner. One thing is for certain, and that's Obama’s audience at this dinner will be one of the most approving, and least challenging, crowds he’s faced all year. And that probably shouldn’t be the case.
It’s a sincere question to wonder why the Black Caucus isn’t the Democratic equivalent of the Tea Party. Few other Congressional caucuses can lay claim to having a singular voice that represents Democrat strongholds throughout the country and puts the disenfranchised -- including minorities -- at the forefront of their agenda.
Like the CBC, the Tea Party's power isn't really in numbers. Poll after poll has shown that the Tea Party’s popularity ebbed a long time ago and mainstream America doesn’t support them. Instead, the Tea Party has focused on something far more effective: intimating to legislators the power they have at the primary ballot.
The Tea Party's power can be attributed to three things: simple messaging, unwavering leadership, and being a disruptive force in political landscape. And here’s three reasons why the Black Caucus isn’t measuring up in the same way:
1. Wrong message
The Tea Party showed that there is tremendous power in a cohesive voice, whether it be informed or not. While the CBC is indeed focused on issues affecting black citizens, they have not a particular issue that black voters can rally around.
The jobs tour was popular simply because people are out of work. And it did gain attention and attract 30,000 jobseekers. But was it enough to be a catalyst for change in the way people will vote? The jobs tour may have just been about that: helping folks to get jobs. But the CBC isn't a headhunter or a career services station at your local university. While they should be focused on jobs – as all politicians should be at this point – they should be looking for solutions that enable the public and private sectors to make large scale investments in hiring workers. In other words, legislative solutions.