Black Lawmakers Adjust to Post-Inauguration Politics

Some believe the president must work from a centrist position for change while others see his presidency as an opportunity to push through Democratic initiative beneficial to the Black community...

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By virtue of what each publicly stands for, Barack Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus were destined to have a tricky relationship post-election.

While he is most certainly in their ranks, it could be reasonably argued that he is not of their ranks and as each attacks the domestic agenda, they are figuring out how to work together in the political climate of the time. From the AP:

The euphoria over President Barack Obama's inauguration is giving way to political reality for African-American lawmakers as Democrats grapple with stubborn challenges facing a long-awaited domestic agenda.

"There is more recognition that this president has been in quite a political battle this year and it's likely to continue," said a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala. "There's certainly a sense of pride and accomplishment, but there's also a sense that gains that were hard-won can be easily lost."

Obama, who is scheduled to address the CBC's annual legislative conference Saturday night, belonged to the all-Democratic, 42-member caucus before winning the White House. The only senator in the group, he wasn't particularly active and isn't especially close to many of its members.

Questions remain about how hard Obama can fight for the anti-poverty, education and health care proposals that helped him win near-universal support from black voters. There also is a growing realization that he will likely face years of criticism - some of it motivated by race - over his administration's response to a sour economy and other issues.

Some in the CBC acknowledge Obama must govern more from the center to be a successful president. However, many of the group's more liberal lawmakers expect him to seize the opportunity created by strong Democratic control of Congress to push through initiatives that have long been blocked by Republicans, such as public health insurance and sharp funding increases for urban development.

It will be truly interesting to see how this relationship plays out over the coming years.

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