THE BLOG
01/06/2011 05:09 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The New Math and Old Ideology Playbook of the 112th Congress

One of the reasons I have such an admiration for mathematics is not only the predictable certainty of the result of 2 plus 2, but, that the process of arriving at that numerical conclusion is "agnostic."

The Republican Party has taken control of the House of Representatives with an ambitious agenda for cutting government spending and reducing our national debt, now estimated to be more than $14 trillion. They campaigned during the midterm elections on a pledge to cut $100 billion from government spending.

Darrell Issa of California, the new chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has indicated that he will not be mathematically agnostic. He intends from the outset to be partisan: He wants to dismantle so-called "Obamacare's" oversight of the $2.5 trillion healthcare industry, (17.6 percent of our total economy), controls over the billions of dollars of debit card fees, EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Additionally, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has just been assigned to the House Intelligence Committee with oversight over our nation's secrets and conduct of the war against terror including renditions and tortured interrogations of suspects in CIA sponsored overseas prisons.

Concurrent with the seismic political change in the Speakership and membership of the House, several significant changes are also underway in the top political staff positions at the White House.

The next few weeks will provide a clearer picture as to the political and economic consequences of all of these developments on President Obama's leadership and the likelihood of sustaining and/or increasing his domestic and foreign policy agenda for remaining two years of his first term as president.

The 112th Congress should be a wake-up call to independents, African-Americans and progressives. This requires realistic reconsideration, by many of the members of those groups, of their basic principles and core set of beliefs that define their political participation in electoral politics going forward.

We may be at an historic crossroad requiring some pause and reflection as to whether or not adherence to such principles and beliefs may be more important than "doing business as usual" with the customary allegiance and knee jerk "loyalty" to the current Democratic or Republican parties.

I AM NOT ADVOCATING A THIRD PARTY FOR 2012; only that progressives, African Americans and independents raise the bar for their active participation and continued support of President Obama or any other candidate for president in 2012.

The actual and anticipated political agenda of the 112th Congress challenges us to revisit some of the political wisdom of progressive movements and leaders from the past.

I am sure many who read and blog on The Huffington Post and elsewhere have numerous persons and precedents they can describe and reference as part of such reconsideration and reflection. For me, one of my political heroes, along with Martin Luther King, Jr., was the legendary African-American labor leader, A. Phillip Randolph.

President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Randolph was the chairman and one of the principal organizers of the August 28, 1963, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. I remember him most, however, because of the political principles and philosophy he espoused for coalition building, as an essential prerequisite for achieving and exercising elective political power.

Politically astute, in referring to the options that African Americans had in the 1950s and 60s for participating in the two major parties, he said, we had "no permanent friends, nor permanent enemies; only permanent interests."

He reminded us that your "friend" today, could be your political "enemy tomorrow." What mattered was which political party or coalition partner served or was in the best "permanent interest" of African Americans.

Yes, I know we have the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the election of an African-American as our 44th President. However, the 112th Congress may be such a politically cataclysmic change in terms of the permanent interest of African Americans, progressive and independents that their survival and viability in the 2012 presidential election may require the development of a new paradigm of political participation in that election. A participation premised on the precinct-by-precinct commitment to the Randolph doctrine of "no permanent friends, nor permanent enemies; only permanent interests."

In previous blogs I have reminded those who voted to elect President Obama that the Democratic Party, like the Republican and other third parties are, at the end of the day, only instruments and agencies for political change. If those instruments or agencies are not suitable or appropriate to effectively enact or defend programs embodying our core beliefs, then continued "loyalty" to such an "instrument" or "agency" would be politically self-destructive.

Members of the Tea Party in the midterm elections said, like the protagonist from the movie Network, that they are" mad as hell and are not going to take this anymore."

When are African Americans, progressives and independents, in the tradition of A. Phillip Randolph, going to say not only that they are "mad as hell," but they will no longer go along to get along in the Democratic Party unless the leadership of that party responds to, not disdains, but honors and protects their "permanent interests"?