Our Director of News, Deborah Creighton Skinner sent me an article recently that caused me to take a second look. The headline which read: “The Late Great Congressional Black Caucus” was alarming enough to get my attention.
For the past few months, I’ve been conducting intimate, sit-down interviews with members of the Congressional Black Caucus for an upcoming BET.com feature called, “Congressional Confidential,” and it has given me an acute awareness of the CBC’s value and the role its members have played in raising the temperature of an often tepid body of lawmakers.
For this reason, the prospect of seeing a possible end to the CBC was disturbing to me so I read further. The article is actually a commentary about the potential inclusion of three Black Republicans to the CBC’s membership ranks. The article asserts that should the CBC include the viewpoints of right-wing conservatives, somehow its purpose is diminished and it’s standing as the “conscience of the Congress” is jeopardized.
My question is, how can the CBC be weakened if the overwhelmingly progressive, liberal body includes more diversity in its membership? African-Americans are not monolithic. Although a vast majority of Blacks align with the Democratic Party, a sizable segment has found a home with the GOP. The inclusion of Republicans within the CBC would not only be more reflective of a group of people it prides its self in representing, it would also be strengthened in the process.
The fear of an opposing viewpoint is just pointless. If “progress” is truly the root of the progressive movement, then there is no need to be afraid of ideological stances that don’t exactly sing from the same songbook. To alienate Republican members of Congress is miss out on an opportunity to expand, and to influence others. So when it comes, to embracing Republicans within the CBC, I say, the more the merrier.