Rep Marcia Fudge (D-OH) just announced that she will not challenge Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House of Representatives. I think given all the considerations Nancy Pelosi is the best choice at this time. Which is not to say that Ms. Fudge could not handle the job. But this blog is not about Nancy Pelosi or the Speakership for that matter. It is about a politically savvy black woman of whom we should all be proud. There is a lesson in this episode that we overlook at our peril. Rep. Marcia Fudge probably did not have a real chance of successfully challenging Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House. But then I am sure that Rep. Fudge knew that. I have to conclude, therefore, that her action was intended to accomplish an objective other than getting the gavel. So what did she accomplish? Lets look at what happened.
First, Ms. Fudge made it known that she may seek the position of Speaker of the House saying “… “I don’t have a pitch because at this point I’ve not decided I’m going to run,” … “but I would say this: My concern about the caucus is the same concern I have about the country. Just as there is this undertone of racism in the country, there’s also that in our caucus.” Note she didn’t say she would run but only that she hadn’t decided. That was the threat.
Next, in her words “… the most loyal voting bloc in the Democratic Party, black women, will have a seat at the decision-making table.” That was the demand.
Thereafter, Ms. Pelosi announced that she will reinstate the elections subcommittee eliminated by the Republican leadership in 2013 and guess what? Ms. Fudge will be named as chairwoman. Two minutes later Ms. Fudge announces that she will support Ms. Pelosi for speaker.
The Subcommittee on Elections handles Federal election-related issues. “One of the major functions of the subcommittee is its oversight of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC). The subcommittee’s jurisdiction also extends to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the Federal Election Campaign Act, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, and the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). In addition to these policy areas, the Subcommittee on Elections is also responsible for contested elections under the Federal Contested Elections Act.” In short, voter suppression is under its broad purview.
There you have it. She cut a deal. And what a deal. The right to vote like any other right is a mere privilege if you are not able to enforce it. Voter suppression is Jim Crow. Rep. Fudge traded the threat of revolt for not only a seat at the decision-making table but control of it.
“Power concedes nothing without a demand.
It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass
We have, in the political arena, and for far too long, been satisfied to go along to get along – to take what we have been given in order not to rock the boat. Go along to get along means progress by someone else’s timetable. Those who approach the quest for power like beggars, hat-in-hand, will receive no more than a beggar’s portion – loose change or table scraps. Part of the reason for this unfortunate reality is that with few exceptions those who have been elected to represent us have failed to heed Mr. Douglass’ admonition. I will say it again. POWER CONCEDES NOTHING WITHOUT A DEMAND.
In the past, our allegiance and support has been rewarded with lip service and little else. It is high time that we demanded our proportionate power in all things American. Rep. Fudge should be applauded for demonstrating the importance of the demand.