Members of the Congressional Black Caucus Have a Grand Opportunity

02/12/2008 06:33 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

They have nothing to fear but their own timidity. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) who now enjoy unprecedented positions of power in the democratically-controlled Congress will suffer no losses regardless of the presidential candidate they choose to support.

Worries about revenge and reprisals should be locked in a dungeon. Opportunity for new political clout must be the new priority concern of the CBC. This most dynamic of all Democratic primaries has revealed some rich pockets of potential power for Black progressives. It has been discovered that the nearly invisible Blacks in Delaware constitute more than half of the Democrats. Look closely and you will discover an immediate opportunity for Blacks to gain one of Delaware's three seats which a few white males have dominated with a game of musical chairs for decades. Running for re-election in this year is a very old fashioned anti-public education Republican who could be defeated if the two Democratic Senators, Joe Biden and Tom Carper, would break out of the old boys network and support a progressive Black candidate. Delaware could be an easy East Coast conquest.

But the greatest revealed opportunities are way down South. Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina have sent obvious messages: The Black electorate is alive and strong! Our smug leaders can no longer take our votes for granted!

Add Mississippi to this group and you have four states that could be returned to the Democratic ranks in the November General Election if the enlightened and long overdue effort is made to forge a union of local progressive Whites with the critical Black masses in each of these states. George Wallace left an obvious model which White minds contaminated with confederate poison could not comprehend.

This "grand opportunity" to forge pivotal power in four Southern states plus Delaware must not be overlooked by the CBC. One powerful member who clearly understands that the stakes are high is Congressman Bennie Thompson, the founder of the CBC Political Education and Legislative Institute that co-sponsored two of the CNN presidential debates. Thompson is presently Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. As a veteran of the Mississippi political wars, he understands the nuances of politics at home in the South as well as the maneuvers for power within the House Democratic Caucus. Thompson is constantly pressing the CBC to maximize its influence.

He knows that the measure of a Black Critical Mass involves more than mere numbers. The degree of solidarity within the group; the level of fervor or anger; momentum or the capacity to surge in support of a cause; these are all components of the Black Critical Mass. They did not organize the Barack Obama for President Movement; and certainly they are not the principle financiers. Obama's campaign is not a "Black Thing"; nevertheless, without the Black fireball at its core this phenomenon would not have escalated into a credible threat to the entrenched establishment.

Members of the Democratic Leadership Council who were treating low fundraising Black congresspersons with contempt in the summer of 2006 are now part of the Clinton team desperately calling each Black superdelegate. Let us all celebrate the wonderful arithmetic of American democracy. Cash poor minorities can spark transforming campaigns and drive the smug establishment into covert hysteria. Bullying the majority of the 700 super delegates -- congresspersons, governors, party officials, etc. -- into submission will now become the critical determinant of the convention hall tally of Democratic Party delegates in August.

Chairman Thompson is one of the 30 percent of the CBC members endorsing Barack Obama; however, he is certain that regardless of the outcome of the race, Blacks will win greater respect from the incoming Democratic administration next January. Meanwhile, Thompson wants to hear the candidates speak more about eradicating poverty, especially the continuing suffering in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans as a result of Katrina. As Chairman of Homeland Security Bennie has been trying to bust heads and get better results for the Katrina evacuees. With change on every candidate's lips he now expects to get greater help from his Democratic Party.