November 30, 2010

Why aren't there any black Senators?

James Taranto reacts to the inflammatory assertion that "Mark Kirk Re-Segregates the Senate." It's true that "of the four blacks who've served in the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction, three of them held what is now Kirk's seat: Carol Moseley Braun, Obama and [Roland] Burris." So a black person's chances of getting elected to the Senate seem best in Illinois, but it didn't happen this year. But why aren't black candidates more successful in running for statewide office? Taranto blames the Voting Rights Act:
In the interest of increasing minority representation in the House and state legislatures, the act mandates the drawing of "majority minority" districts.

On its own terms, this has worked very well. The size of the Congressional Black Caucus relative to the House is within a few percentage points of the black proportion of the population. Seats in state legislatures and the House frequently are stepping stones to statewide office. But because black politicians need not cultivate a transracial appeal to win office in the first place, they are at a disadvantage when they consider a statewide run.

Moseley Braun and Obama are exceptions. (The unelected Burris is irrelevant to this analysis.) Before being elected to the U.S. Senate, both served in the Illinois Legislature from Chicago's Hyde Park, which, although a decidedly left-wing constituency, is one of the most racially integrated in the nation.

49 comments:

mesquito said...

I look forward to the SCOTUS decision, to be penned by The Wise Latina, realligning State borders to produce some safe black Senate seats.

jimbino said...

There are no Blacks in the Senate because they are chosen from among visitors to our National Parks and National Forests. There are no Black visitors there either; the only one in recent memory was Obama, who was indeed elected to the Senate.

Revenant said...

Taranto's explanation sounds reasonable to me.

Trooper York said...

Hey jimbino you must be excited about the new Yogi Bear movie in
3D.

Lot's of great shots of Jellystone.

XWL said...

So does this mean white liberals are racist?

Black politicians tend to be liberal to downright communist, yet without white liberal support, they can't win statewide elections.

What other than racism explains the withholding of support by white liberals?

If Tea Party activists horror at the Obama Administration's phenomenal increase in the size and scope of the federal government is so readily explained by racism, as most liberals claim, then I think the evidence is even stronger that white liberals are racist for not supporting more black candidates on a statewide basis within liberal states.

Gary said...

Braun could have been senator for life if she hadn't blown it.

ironrailsironweights said...

You don't even have to be black to be a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Peter

former law student said...

Taranto left out the obvious: white people are not inclined to vote for black candidates, while blacks have no trouble voting for white statewide candidates.

Burris would have been a contender in Illinois, had his appointment to the Senate not tainted him with Blagojevichism. Elected to two different state offices (Comptroller and Atty General) he had learned how to obtain white folks' votes.

Don Meaker said...

It would be nice if people mentioned the 4th post reconstruction black Senator, Edward William Burke III Repubican from Massachusetts who served from 1967 to 1979, or the two black Republican Senators from Mississippi, Hiram Rhodes Revels (served 1870-1871) and Blanche Bruce (served 1875-1881)

Diamondhead said...

I wonder if there would have been a need to refute said inflammatory assertion had Alexi Giannoulias won? Stupid, stupid question.

stevenehrbar said...

The obvious problem is the 17th Amendment.

Revenant said...

Taranto left out the obvious: white people are not inclined to vote for black candidates, while blacks have no trouble voting for white statewide candidates.

This is probably because almost all black candidates are racists, whereas most white candidates are not.

Coketown said...

In most other states, candidates for senate have to be broadly appealing. It's not like the House where a district within a city will have its own representative. So Mr. Black from Chicago only has to appeal to Chicagoans because 2.8 million people live there, one-third of them black, and therefore Mr. Black doesn't give a shit about appealing to Aurora, with its 180,000 people. Chicago is one of only a few cities that enjoys this setup.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

It's pretty simple, really.

Almost all black politicians are crooked and end up in jail long before they make it to the Senate. They're indicted while still state senators (Diane "Stuff The Cash In Her Bra" Wilkerson) or Congressmen (William "Cold Cash" Jefferson).

They're not in the Senate because they're fucking doing time.

Barack Obama is no different. He's committed several felonies while President.

The only reason he is not in jail is that the Attorney General is also black.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"Braun could have been senator for life if she hadn't blown it."

You mean if she hadn't been a thief, right? Laundering money through her campaign accounts and then into her own pockets?

Yeah, except for the fact that she's a fucking dumb crook ... she could have been Senator for life!

The Crack Emcee said...

"Why aren't there any black Senators?"

Maybe because too many black politicians think only about black people? Maybe because, in their hearts, they're African-Americans first and Americans second?

I could go on like this for a while.

former law student said...

It would be nice if people mentioned the 4th post reconstruction black Senator, Edward William Burke III Repubican from Massachusetts

Brooke was a liberal Republican -- nowadays would be dismissed as a RINO or worse. No hope of getting nominated today.

the two black Republican Senators from Mississippi, Hiram Rhodes Revels (served 1870-1871) and Blanche Bruce (served 1875-1881)

Back then the entire Republican party was liberal compared to the Democrats.

ricpic said...

Could there be a more glaring example of the internalization of the liberal world view than Taranto's statement that the creation of majority-minority districts has "worked well" solely on the basis that the number of black congresscritters as a percentage of congress is equivalent to the percentage of blacks in the general population? Identity trumps EVERYTHING.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"Back then the entire Republican party was liberal compared to the Democrats."

Yep.

Back then the Democrat Party Scion of the Senate was wearing his Ku Klux Klan robe openly and proudly.

The Democrats are still the party of the KKK. They just don't wear the robes any more.

Revenant said...

Back then the entire Republican party was liberal compared to the Democrats.

On racial issues, the Republican Party still *is* liberal compared to the Democrats. After all, the Republican Party opposes racial discrimination; the Democrats support it.

deborah said...

Black senators are like black quarterbacks; soon enough there will be racial apportionment (to the general population).

former law student said...

Conservatives support apartheid; liberals oppose it. Conservatives justify apartheid on the basis of how closely a person's filled-in bubbles on a standardized test match those of the test's creator.

Revenant said...

Conservatives support apartheid

Help! FLS is trapped in 1980s South Africa!

Big Mike said...

And before Carol Moseley Braun all of the black senators were Republicans.

Penny said...

Oh my yes...statistics that substitute for thought.

This game will make more sense to me when we first figure out how to dice up our 2.2 kids per American family.

Big Mike said...

Conservatives support apartheid ...

Sometimes you write something thought-provoking, FLS, but all too often you write something like the above, which demonstrates that you have drunk too much Kool Aid.

I really wonder what sort of environment you work in, where liberals are not teeth-grindingly condescending towards black workers and where conservatives do not treat black colleagues the same way that they treat any other colleagues -- with the same expectations.

Penny said...

Big Mike, if you stand back from your expectation that fls only spews left wing dribble, you might notice that he hasn't cut up his kids into .2 sections. Same as you, even.

Sometimes we need to "stand back" as far as we MUST... in order to notice similarities.

traditionalguy said...

There is Obama...although he QUIT.

Hagar said...

A consequence of gerrymandered "Black" districts is that "White" politicians do not have to appeal to "Blacks," and "Black" politicians do not have to appeal to "Whites."

Nor do I think this system works well in the House. I think that not only is there is a tendency for the CBC to be thought of as a block from the ouside, but that it also acts as a block from the inside. If you have an issue, you do not bring it up on the House floor; you take it to the CBC leadership, and - if you are a "good" member - they will maybe negotiate your issue with the Speaker in her office.
I don't think this is healthy or beneficial for anybody, except perhaps the entrenched CBC leadership in the short term.

DaveW said...

A good, solid conservative black candidate like Col. Alan West could easily win a Senate Seat in Texas. Maybe we can find a guy like that when Kay Bailey Hutchison retires.

lucid said...

This is exactly the problem with the legalized racism that is called "affirmative action."

It destroys the possibility of community by destroying the expectation of fair treatment that is necessary to a real community.

It creates a strong self-interest in being able to claim that one is a victim and that others are racist.

It institutionalizes the interest in claiming victim-hood by granting advantages and entitlements to those who can claim victim-hood.

So, we create a generation who think the path to power and advantage is to insist that one is a victim of racism.

Just look at what Maxine Waters inserted in the the so-called Financial Reform bill.

Disgusting.

Bruce Hayden said...

I will agree with the posters who pointed out that the majority-minority Congressional districts are a big part of the problem. As we have seen over the years, with Powell, Jefferson, Rangel, and Waters, many of those elected to them are ultimately corrupt.

But I think that that is at least partially a result of the fact that they have ultra-safe districts. So, the Democrats elected to them can be off the deep end liberal. And, once in Congress (often until death or conviction, whichever comes first), they spend their careers as lock step members of the CBC.

In most states, that sort of profile is not going to get someone elected to the Senate. I think that Obama, in particular, was an anomaly, as he didn't come up through the House, and did represent a racially mixed district in the Ill. Legislature (and, is only part Black to start with).

Furthermore, these ultra-safe districts tend to elect very liberal Representatives. Again, something that doesn't sell well state-wide in many states.

Something else that has made things hard for a lot of Blacks in this area is that there are sizable Black populations in much of the South, and they tend to vote reliably Democrat. But the rest of their southern states have moved fairly decisively into the Republican column. So, you have a lot of the African-American population belonging to the wrong party to have a real chance at winning a Senate seat.

So, in the end, Blacks can either be elected to the Senate as Republicans, or if they run as Democrats, from only a small handful of states, most notably Illinois. And, pretty much any African-American elected to the House from a majority-minority district as a Democrat is unelectable to the Senate.

Bruce Hayden said...

A consequence of gerrymandered "Black" districts is that "White" politicians do not have to appeal to "Blacks," and "Black" politicians do not have to appeal to "Whites."

In terms of running for the Senate, the later is what is important. Regardless of right or wrong, there are more Whites than Blacks in every state in the Union.

And, yes, a lot of the CBC comes across as racist, at least to many Whites.

Bruce Hayden said...

Conservatives support apartheid; liberals oppose it. Conservatives justify apartheid on the basis of how closely a person's filled-in bubbles on a standardized test match those of the test's creator.

How FLS got from the problems of majority-minority districts into this dribble on apartheid, I will never know.

Adding insult to injury, it makes no sense. It implies a race-consciousness on the Right that is missing, and ignores the overwhelming evidence of such racial-consciousness, racism, and adherence to a racial spoils system on the left.

Penny said...

"So, we create a generation who think the path to power and advantage is to insist that one is a victim of racism."

Now if only we "white people" can keep this myth alive!

Well, OK, not alive as long as it has been for people of color, but long enough to not feel the "pinch" of immigration.

THAT would be fair. Right?

Bruce Hayden said...

On racial issues, the Republican Party still *is* liberal compared to the Democrats. After all, the Republican Party opposes racial discrimination; the Democrats support it.

I read correspondence from ancestors in the 1850s and 1860s who voted for Lincoln and helped form the Republican party, and I do not see them supporting the sort of racism that we still see in the Democratic party.

Keep in mind that the Democratic party was founded by slave owners, went to war to retain their slaves, implemented Jim Crowe, resegregated the federal government (Wilson), provided most of the votes against the Civil Rights acts of the 1960s, and recently buried a Klan member in honor.

The retort is inevitably that the parties have switched sides on race since then, with the South moving from Democrat to Republican. That is pure revisionist rubbish. No party that can honor Bob Byrd, as the Democrats recently did, and continues to advocate a racial spoils system, as they still do, can make any claim to Lincoln's legacy.

Bruce Hayden said...

Maybe because too many black politicians think only about black people? Maybe because, in their hearts, they're African-Americans first and Americans second?

Maybe the former, but I am not sure that this is any worse for African-American politicians than for others.

Eight Republicans today joined the Democrats in the Senate in rejecting a ban on earmarks. The stated objection to this ban by the Majority Leader was that he was sent to Washington, D.C. to get as much loot for his constituents here in Nevada as he could. And, using Crack's logic, I could claim that Harry Reid was a Nevadan first, and an American second.

While I don't like this type of attitude on the part of politicians, and I think that it breeds corruption, I will point out that it isn't limited to just the CBC. Rather, it is an institution wide problem.

Geoff Matthews said...

Steve Sailer made this point about a week ago.

former law student said...

How FLS got from the problems of majority-minority districts into this dribble on apartheid, I will never know.

I was responding to the Rev's remarkable comment, of course.

Within my lifetime white males will be in the minority -- I wonder what the GOP position on AA will be then. Purging the voting rolls of non-whites can only go so far.

AllenS said...

fls,

White males are in the minority now. They have always been in the minority. There are, and have always been more white females than white males. You don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Grow up.

AllenS said...

If you ever do grow up, then fuck off. The more I think about someone who claims to be a former law student means to me you went to law school, or college if you want. Do you realize how absolutely fucking stupid you are? Did you learn anything? You sure don't come across as anybody but a fucking idiot. Think about your last comment. How fucking stupid was that?

Sofa King said...

Within my lifetime white males will be in the minority -- I wonder what the GOP position on AA will be then. Purging the voting rolls of non-whites can only go so far.

Just because your entire political philosophy is one of expedience, doesn't mean that is true of everyone else.

Marshal said...

former law student said...
Conservatives support apartheid; liberals oppose it

Where is HD to decry offensive generalizations?

Unsurprisingly, the Annointed never apply standards to themselves.

Michael said...

fls: When I think of apartheid in America I can only think of those fully integrated liberal enclaves like Beverly Hills and the upper East side of Manhattan, and Palo Alto and Nob Hill and Pacific Heights. Don't let the fact that outside of work you do not know a single black person nor does one know you get in the way of your absurd typing.

Marshal said...

What I find the most interesting about FLS and HD is that they think they're from the "reasonable" wing of the Democratic Party. Statements like FLS's prove their extremism and complete lack of perspective. But what if even despite their borderline insanity they in fact do represent the most sane slice of Democrats?

Scary.

TosaGuy said...

The Democrat voters in Maryland and Ohio had the opportunity to elect Black senators in 2006 but, instead, choose the white guy.

Revenant said...

Within my lifetime white males will be in the minority

Sure, but we'll still be successful.

former law student said...

we'll still be successful.

Sure, if you impress some Chinese guy. But you'll probably be limited by the "glass ceiling."

Maguro said...

Sure, if you impress some Chinese guy. But you'll probably be limited by the "glass ceiling."

You're mixing up your racial revenge fantasies. Even after the Chinese own everything in the world, they'll still need locals to run things for them in the far reaches of their empire. And who's that gonna be?