Black Caucus in the pockets of corporations since at least 2002

The Big Sell-Out: The Congressional Black Caucus and the Internet


by Glen Ford

Before the pivotal elections of 2002, when corporate money started systematically wooing Black Democrats, the Congressional Black Caucus was a consistent voice on the (relatively) leftish side of the Congress. Only a few years later, the Black Caucus was more firmly in the pockets of huge telecom corporations than the rest of the Party. As a bloc, the CBC is no friend of Internet neutrality., which aims to “strengthen Black America’s voice” through skillful use of the Internet, is confronting ten Black congresspersons for representing the interests of giant telecom corporations that are seeking to destroy Internet neutrality. The corporations have purchased the Black lawmakers services, in hopes of making the Internet a toll road on which the rich always have the right of way. The ten congresspersons signed a letter parroting their corporate benefactors’ line: that regulation is bad for the economy. These Black turncoats claim they are for what they call “an open Internet” – which actually means an Internet that is open for the business of providing the best services to the richest customers, while starving the rest of us of vital information on subjects like which of our Black congressmen are selling out to the highest bidder.

We’re always glad when Color of Change names the bad actors in the Black Misleadership Class. In this case, it’s the usual rogue’s gallery of the Congressional Black Caucus: Sanford Bishop and David Scott, of Georgia; G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina; Bobby Rush of Illinois; Corrine Brown and Alcee Hastings, from Florida; Bennie Thompson, from Mississippi; Dallas, Texas, congressman Marck Veasey; Lacy Clay, of Missouri, and Gregory Meeks, the corporate sell-out from New York.

Color of Change also gives credit to those 36 Democratic lawmakers that wrote a letter demanding the FCC protect Internet neutrality. The eight Representatives on the right side of the issue are: Keith Ellison, of Minnesota; Barbara Lee, of California; Andre Carson, of Indiana; John Conyers, of Michigan; John Lewis, of Georgia; Charles Rangel, of New York; and Bobby Scott, of Virginia.

Massive Rightward Shift

The Black Agenda Report team has been tracking the steady slide to the Right in the Congressional Black Caucus since 2002. Back in June of 2006, when the BAR team was writing for The Black Commentator, we reported the massive sell-out to corporations by Blacks on Capitol Hill. Huge telecommunications firms took the lead in buying off Black lawmakers – most notably, AT&T’s successful capture of Chicago congressman Bobby Rush, the former Black Panther, who sold his vote for a million dollars and the promise of a technology center for his district that never materialized.

Internet neutrality was at stake in 2006, as it is today. In an article titled “Black Caucus Caves to Corporate Power,” Bruce Dixon reported that all but 13 of 40 voting members of the Black Caucus sided with the corporations, and against Internet neutrality. In fact, the Black Caucus was deeper in the corporations’ pockets than the rest of the Democratic Party in the House. It seemed to be almost a package deal, with only 13 holdouts.

Because of such treachery, Congress failed to protect Internet neutrality in 2006. Now, the issue is before the FCC. Ten Black lawmakers have written letters against Internet neutrality, and eight in support of free access to all. My guess is that, eight years after the great sell-out, the majority of the Black Caucus remains firmly on the telecommunications plantation.

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