Friday, August 13, 2010

Explaining Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters

Republicans have been enjoying the spectacle of Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters caught up in their own ethics scandals and the inevitable playing of the race card to defend themselves against their critics. Waters has been pointing ominously to the eight members of the Congressional Black Caucus who are under investigation. Jonah Goldberg explains why this is no coincidence. It all goes back to the evils of racial gerrymandering.
Indeed, that's long been the problem with the CBC: its scandalous lack of accountability. Because of racial gerrymandering (cynically abetted by the GOP in the 1980s), black representatives have been insulated even more than other incumbents from democratic competition. Worse, the older generation of CBCers in particular actually believe this claptrap about being the "conscience of the Congress" (the Caucus motto). This has put the CBC to the left not just of the average voter but the average black voter. Less than 10 percent of the CBC voted to ban partial-birth abortion in 2003, even though a majority of blacks support the ban. A majority of blacks oppose racial quotas and support school choice, but the CBC claims to speak for them when taking the opposite positions.
Why, in the age of a black president, we should still feel that it is necessary to gerrymander special majority minority districts to elect minority representatives is beyond me. By gerrymandering voters into racial districts, we guarantee that black representatives don't have to cross racial divides in their voting and campaigning. We would do more for racial understanding of their representatives weren't in electorally secure seats but actually had to campaign for votes from both races. Republicans have long supported such gerrymandering because it dilutes the Democratic votes in their districts. But the result for our country and for ethics in our elected representatives should dictate an end to such racial gerrymandering.