Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Political diversity in the Congressional Black Caucus

This article notes that members of the Congressional Black Caucus no longer vote in lockstep for progams only a liberal Democrat could love:

The changes have played out on a series of votes this year, such as passage of the Republican-led bankruptcy bill, which 10 members of the caucus voted for, and elimination of the estate tax, which drew eight votes from the 41-member caucus.

Five members, all Democrats, voted for both measures: Reps. David Scott and Sanford D. Bishop Jr. of Georgia, Albert R. Wynn of Maryland, Harold E. Ford Jr. of Tennessee and William J. Jefferson of Louisiana.

The key seems to be representing districts that aren’t racially homogeneous and having ties to or experience in small business. Whatever the appeal of the faith-based initiative to some African-American pastors and voters, this hasn’t yet translated into legislative support. None seem to have supported the Job Training Improvement Act, the only legislation connected with the faith-based initiative in this session.

My tentative conclusion: the bankruptcy and estate tax votes are more about "economics" than "politics" for these legislators, while the faith-based initiative actually does pose a political threat to the Democratic Party. Support for the former pieces of legislation might help keep wealthy African-Americans in the Democratic column; support for the latter helps Republicans recruit African-American support.

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