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“Trading Symbolism For Substance”: An Issue That Is The Bedrock Of Civil Rights…The Right To Vote

Last week Democrats in the House started attaching an amendment to appropriation bills curtailing the display of Confederate flags on graves in federal cemeteries and the sale of the Confederate flag in national park gift stores. When some Southern representatives objected to it, Speaker Boehner was forced to bring the whole process to a halt. On Thursday the Democrats, led by the Congressional Black Caucus, offered a compromise.

Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.), the third-ranking House Democrat, said Thursday that Democratic leaders will drop their push to attach flag-related amendments to appropriations bills, freeing Republicans to pursue their spending agenda, if GOP leaders will agree to consider an update to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a central part of which was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.

“I’m here to say to you that the members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the full Democratic Caucus are willing to sit down with the Speaker and work out a way for us to allow the proper display and utilization of … the flag in certain instances if he would only sit down with us and work out an appropriate addressing of the amendments to the Voting Rights Act,” Clyburn said during a press briefing in the Capitol.

Ever since the Supreme Court gutted sections of the Voting Rights Act, Democrats have pushed to amend the law in ways that continued to protect the franchise – especially for those who have historically faced repeated attempts to challenge their rights. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi laid out the offer Democrats have now put on the table:

“There has been an opportunity for the Republican majority not just to send a condolence card or show up at a service but to translate that into action,” Pelosi said. “And we are now segueing from the conversation about the flag to a conversation about voting rights now.”

This is exactly the kind of thing Rev. William Barber was talking about.

Taking down the flag is a good thing. But when we look at the voting and policy records of most of the political leaders who helped to lower it, we should be careful with equating its removal as a history-altering event. Systemic racism is alive and well; they show no intention yet of dealing with the fundamental inequalities racism still causes in our society…

Let us be clear about what’s being said: nine Black deaths may get the flag lowered, but it will not get you one pen to sign Medicaid expansion throughout the South, which would save thousands of Black lives. Black deaths will not get full voting rights, which saves Black political power and produces policies that save black, brown and poor white lives. It will not get criminal justice reform, which liberates Black lives. Nor will it get you full funding for public education, a living wage, or economic empowerment that will lift the lives of black people, minorities, and the poor. It will not get gun reform.

What Rep. Clyburn and the Congressional Black Caucus are saying is that they’re willing to put aside arguments about symbolism in exchange for some substance on an issue that is the bedrock of civil rights…the right to vote.

 

By: Nancy leTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 19, 2015

July 20, 2015 Posted by | Confederate Flag, Congressional Black Caucus, Democrats, John Boehner, Voting Rights Act | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Racially Charged And Ridiculous”: Ron Paul Connects War, Black Lawmakers, And Food Stamps

Right about now, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) probably wishes his father kept a much lower profile.

Former Republican Rep. Ron Paul, the father of potential presidential candidate Rand Paul and a former presidential candidate himself, said the Congressional Black Caucus does not support war because they want that money for food stamps.

“I was always annoyed with it in Congress because we had an anti-war unofficial group, a few libertarian Republicans and generally the Black Caucus and others did not – they are really against war because they want all of that money to go to food stamps for people here,” Ron Paul told Lew Rockwell in early February during a discussion on sanctions.

I saw some paraphrases of this online, and I assumed the former congressman’s comment couldn’t have been quite as ridiculous as the tweets suggested. My assumption was wrong – Paul really did argue Congressional Black Caucus members oppose war because they want money for food stamps.

As BuzzFeed report noted, Paul went on to complain that CBC members who were part of the unofficial “anti-war group” also disappointed him by supporting sanctions against countries like Iran. “They wanted to look tough,” he said.

Obviously, the notion that Congressional Black Caucus members were only skeptical of wars because of food stamps is racially charged and ridiculous. It’d be an offensive comment from anyone, but the fact that it’s coming from a longtime congressman and former presidential candidate only adds insult to injury.

And, of course, Ron Paul isn’t just some random former lawmaker running around the country saying dumb things and appearing at fringe events. He’s also Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) father.

In fact, Rand Paul spent much of his career in politics promoting his father’s message, agenda, and national ambitions. The fact that there’s been an ugly racial element to Ron Paul’s message may very well lead to some awkward questions as the Kentucky senator moves closer to the presidential trail.

As we talked about yesterday, one assumes the senator will argue that he shouldn’t be blamed for his father’s off-the-wall ideas, and that defense might even be compelling under normal circumstances. But given that Rand Paul had a leading role in Ron Paul’s operation, this isn’t quite so easy.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 24, 2015

February 25, 2015 Posted by | Congressional Black Caucus, Rand Paul, Ron Paul | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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