Freedom Rider: The Democrats win and black people lose

If the Democrats were a true political party, Nancy Pelosi’s failures would have taken her out of the running for any leadership position.

Black Agenda Report was first published in October 2006, just as the Democratic Party was poised to take control of the House of Representatives with Nancy Pelosi as leader. Twelve years later they will be in the majority for the first time since 2010, and again with Pelosi at the helm.

In those early issues of BAR, our team pondered the meaning of a Democratic majority that didn’t represent the interests of the black constituency that brought it to power. In 2006, John Conyers was the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. He had publicly stated his goal of holding impeachment hearings to investigate George W. Bush. But Pelosi made it clear that impeachment was “off the table,” and indeed it was.

Fast forward to 2018. Despite the supposed Democratic Party outrage over charges of collusion against Donald Trump, Pelosi again says there will be no impeachment. What she does offer are right-wing talking points about “pay as you go” federal spending, a guarantee of more austerity that may as well have been written by the Koch brothers.

Nancy Pelosi may have raised millions of dollars for Democratic candidates, but the money did little to help as four election cycles went by without a victory. If the Democrats were a true political party, her failures would have taken her out of the running for any leadership position. Instead her fealty to the rotten system makes her an untouchable.

In 2006, the BAR rallying cry was “Let Black Democrats Be Black!” Our demand referred to the Democratic Party beat down of the progressive policies that the constituents of Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members want to see enacted. It appears that 2018 is a repeat of 2006.

Nancy Pelosi is only good at two things. She raises lots of money, which isn’t really hard for someone with an estimated net worth of $120 million. Pelosi gets credit for asking her rich friends to contribute to her favorite cause, something that every lady who lunches knows how to do.

Her other talent is shooting down any and all progressive policy proposals. She and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership have silenced and sidelined what remains of any left wing tendency. The phony left, represented by the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, mouth the right words but then sign on to Pelosi and the rest of the discredited gang.

Nancy Pelosi won’t face a serious challenge because she does what Democratic Party funders want her to do. They determine the policy agenda. They don’t want Medicare for All. So there will be no Medicare for All. They want austerity and permanent war and that is all we will be offered.

The trap of the duopoly for black Americans only gets harder to escape. Donald Trump is the living embodiment of all our fears, a president who speaks directly and openly to white nationalists. The danger is real but the opposition is fake. The fake opposition will tell Democrats to protest the firing of segregationist Attorney General Jeff Sessions because his replacement may sabotage Robert Mueller’s investigation.

They do not point out that the now Democratic controlled House of Representatives can subpoena witnesses, hold hearings and impeach, whether the new attorney general approves or not. If they want Trump investigated, they should have demanded that Pelosi put impeachment back on the agenda. The thousands of people who succumbed to this foolishness no doubt thought of themselves as defenders of the resistance against fascism. But they were merely pawns in a silly propaganda game.

In 2006 BAR said, “Republicans out does not mean progressives in.” Those words are just as true in 2018. Black people suffer politically more than any other group for a very simple reason. We sabotage our own political desires in order to keep Republicans out of office. That goal subverts everything else and makes us the losers even when the party we support manages to get back into power.

The Democrats we ride and die for are fakes. They won’t say that all Mexicans are rapists and they won’t refer to African countries as “shit holes.” They put palatable black faces in high places. But they don’t end mass incarceration or cut the military budget. CBC members actually joined in giving Trump a bigger military budget than he requested while also claiming to support human needs paid for by government.

This charade will go on until the people reject Pelosi, the rest of the Democratic Party leadership, their funders, and their quislings in the black misleadership class. We must say no to the false dichotomy of Trumpian fascism or the pretend Democratic Party variety. If not, we may have the same headline in another twelve years. The BAR team would rather write about how this deadly dynamic finally came to an end.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

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