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Haynie+African+Americans+New+Inclusion+8.27.10 - 17 African...

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Unformatted text preview: 17. African Americans and the New Politics of Inclusion; A Representational Dilemma? ' Kerry L. Haynie y the end of the 1970s, it was readily apparent that Afiican Americans were no longer excluded from representation in Congress. African American rep— resentatives have now become firmly rooted fixtures on the congressional land— scape. For example, in each of the last five congresses (104th—108th), they have made up at least 9 percent of the total membership of the House of Representa- tives. Notwithstanding the fact that their representation in the House falls well short of being proportionate to their presence in the population, and although they have never made up more than 1 percent of the membership in any one ses- sion of the US. Senate, their recent levels of representation in the House denote a tremendous gain in the access that African Americans as a group have to an important deliberative and policymaking institution. . From the time that they were first elected to Congress in the 18705 to the present, African American representatives collectively have been the leading pro- ponents of a legislative agenda that seeks to address the particular and sometimes distinctive needs of African Americans and other disadvantaged minorities. His~ torically, these legislators have attempted, first and foremost, to be the agents or conduits of minority economic, political, and social advancement. In other words, over the years African Americans in Congress by and large have played the role of race representative, advocating a targeted, race-conscious agenda that, if fully enacted, would likely have resulted in noticeable changes in the social and eco- nomic policy status quo.l . 1 Race representatives emerged and became prominent when there was a rigid system of separation in American society in general and a firm wall of segregation between blacks and whites in housing, education, and in particular, political power.2 Coming firom racially isolated and segregated environments, in which the majority of the inhabitants were economically and socially distressed, race repre- sentatives tended to practice a politics that almost always put matters of race above all others. Race representatives frequently adopted or were cast in the role of “outsiders”—meaning politicians who often do not conform to the norms and tra— ditions of the institutions in which they operate.3 This race representative role was clearly well suited for African Americans in Congress during periods when they were few in number and lacked sufficient allies to help them advance their agenda. For example, Richard Champagne and Leroy Rieselbach argue that at the time of the founding of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971, black legislators “had few incentives or opportunities to engage in conventional legislative poli- tics . . . . they lacked the ability to bargain from positions of strength and instead were forced to make their views known outside the normal legislative process“) 396 Kerry L. Haynie Thus, as has become increasingly clear over the past twenty years, physical presence (that is, descriptive representation) and symbolic- outsider or protest pol— itics are not enough to guarantee a group meaningful inclusion in deliberations or measurable influence over policy decisions. Several scholars, most notably, Rufus P. Browning, Dale R. Marshall and, David H. Tabb, have persuasively argued that African American officeholders must achieve political incoaa'omtion as a precondi- tion to having a significant effect on government policies and programs. The term “political incorporation” refers to the extent to which a group is represented in important coalitions in policymaking institutions and the degree to which the group has been able to achieve positions from which it can exercise sustained influ— ence over policy agendas.5 Relative to race and representation in governing institu— tions, Browning, Marshall, and Tabb’s landmark study precipitated among academ— ics, activists, and politicians what can rightly be called a “new politics of inclusion.” This new politics of inclusion shifted attention away from an almost exclusive con~ cern with the number or percentage of a cohesive political subgroup, such as African Americans, present in a legislative body toward an interest in how well such groups are strategically placed in formal institutional positions of power. This new politics of inclusion explicitly recognizes that political incorporation is an important factor in the linkages between descriptive and substantive representation. African Americans in the US. House of Representatives have greatly improved their status in terms of seniority, party leadership positions, and overall institutional power over the past three decadesf’ During this period, there has also been significant growth in the numbers of Hispanics and white women in the Democratic legislative caucus who are potential coalition partners in pressing a progressive legislative agenda. With rising levels of incorporation, black members of the House increasingly find themselves in positions to have a more effectual voice in policymaking debates, within both the Democratic Party and the House as a whole. According to Champagne and Rieselbach, as a result of an increase in their institutional power, African American members “have increasingly been drawn into the maelstrom of bargaining, compromising, and coalition-building politics that characterizes an individualistic House of Representatives.” They proclaim that African American members can now be viewed as “skilled ‘insiders’ in ordinary, Washington—based legislative politics.” 3 This transformation of African American members of Congress from polit— ical outsiders to insiders gives rise to an important question for students of con— gressional politics: Have the gains in black political incorporation come at the expense of the representation of black interests? One of the many ironies of racial grouptpolitics in the United States is that in seeking to advance or enact public policies that serve the interest of racial minorities, minority group representatives must operate in a political system and within institutions—such as the US. Congress—~that are biased against quick or drastic change and in which the advocacy of minority interests may be incongruent with professional advance- ment and policy successes.9 This chapter explores this potential representation dilemma. Using data mostly from the 107th Congress (2001-2002), I examine whether the new politics of inclusion, whic increased African American institutional incorporation, is associated th changes in the behavior of African American in T . embers f C ‘ ' their advocacy and support of black interests. 0 ongress African American Incorporation in the 107th House V When the 107th Congress was vel d t d ' i ' ‘i eight Afiican American memb Allgal c 0 or CI m 2001’ there Wire thirty— ers. were members of the House. Thirty— seven were Democrats, fourteen were women, and they represented twenty* one states Plus the District of Columbia (see Tabl 17—1 _ . state from most ofthc e The twenty one states include a . geographic regions in the country, with onl the M t ' West and the Pacxfic Northwest not represented. Sixteen of the tliirty— eigliltnreaplj resentatives (42 percent) were from the South. The districts from which the black Democrats were elected were both urban and rural and on average had populations in African Americans made up slightly more than 50 percent of the total Surprisingly, ten of the members represented districts that were not ma'ori black. Eight of those, however, had majority—minority populations Sinfdiid Bishop, 2nd District, Ga, and Julia Carson, 7th District, Ind. were. the onl AfflCZIl American House Democrats elected from majority—white districts 1° y I In an earlier study, I developed an African American political incorporation index espec1ally for legislatures.11 The index includes measures for the number of African Americans in the legislature, whether or not African Americans are in the majority party, the percentage of the Democratic Party that they constitute the-number of prestige or power committee assignments they hold the' , seniority, and the number of African Americans in leadership positions. Descri - tive representation is accounted for in this conceptualization of incorporation bit the scale I'CllCS- most heavily on variables that are directly associated with pdwer and influence in legislatures. It recognizes that to achieve the capacity to exert strong and substantial influence in legislatures, African Americans not only need a continuous descriptive presence, but they also must obtain leadership positions and strategic committee assignments. The data in Table 17—2 substantiate the assertion o ' ' American incorporation in the House of Representatives. Fog 22:22:10? ican With data from the 107th Congress the table includes data from the 103id and l04th. The 103rd House (1993-1994) is the last session in which African Amer- ican Democrats were in the majority party. The 104th (1995—1996) marks the first session of the current era of Republican control of the House The 107th (2001—2002) is the most recent Congress for which complete data are available v Black Caucus was formed in 1971, there were just the House. Only one of the thirteen held a lead—- 398 i ' Kerry L. Haynie Table 17—1 African Americans in the 107th Congress (2001—2002) M % Blacks % lVlinorities State District Member in District in District M Alabama 7 Earl Hilliard 62 0 California 9 Barbara Lee 26.4 32 Diane Watson 30.5 68.5 i 35 Maxine Waters 34.7 74.0 I 37 Juanita lVIillender- McDonald 22.5 54.7 Florida 3 Corrine Brown 49.9 57.6 17 Carrie Meek 56.9 67.1 I 23 Alcee Hastings 52.0 62.5 Georgia 2 Sanford Bishop Jr. 44.8 48.5 4 Cynthia McKinney 53.5 64.2 I I 5 John Lewis 56.1 63.0 th01s 1 Bobby Rush 65.5 70.5 2 Jesse Jackson Jr. 62.4 70.3 I 7 Danny Davis 62.0 70.2 Indiana 10 Julia Carson 29.5 35.2 Louisiana 2 William Jefferson 64.1 69.8 Maryland _4 ‘ Albert Wynn 57.3 69.7 I I 7‘ Elijah Cummings 59.1 65.1 Michigan 14 John Conyers Jr. 61.4 67.0 I I I I 15 Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick 60.8 68.2 lwissiSSippi 2 Bennie Thompson ' 63.5 65.0 MlSSOIlI‘l 1 William Clay 49.8 53.5 New Jersey 10 Donald Payne 57.7 71.6 New York 6 Gregory Meeks 53 .9 81.1 10 Edolphus Towns 63.0 79.0 11 Major Owens 61.2 75.1 15 Charles Rangel 34.6 71.8 North Carolina 1 Eva Clayton 50.7 54.6 I 12 Melvin Watt 45.0 52.8 01110 11 Stephanie Tubbs Jones 55.9 60.3 Oklahoma I 4 C. Watts Jr. (R) 6.7 30.3 Pennsylvania 2 Chaka Fattah 61.3 69 2 South Carolina 6 James Clybum 57.0 59'2 Tennessee 9 Harold Ford Jr. 59.7 63: 9 Texas 18 Sheila Jackson— Lee 42.5 62.9 I I i 30 Eddie Bernice Johnson 40.8 61.1 Virginia 3 Robert Scott 56.4 61.4 D.C. NA Eleanor Holmes Norton NA NA M party was in the majority, black Democrats held nine prestigious committee ass1gnments and thirty two leadership positions. They included John Lewis, Ga. one of four chief deputy whips, and John Conyers Jr., Mich, and William Clay: Mo? chairs respectively of the Government Operations and the Post Office and CiVil Servrce Committees. Although the Republican takeover in 1995 resulted in Democrats’ surrendering their institutional leadership positions, the African African Americans and the New Politics of Inclusion 399 Table 17—2 Elements of African American Incorporation, 103rd, 104th, and 107th Congresses 103rd 104th 107th (1993-1994) (1995-1996) (2001-2002) Number of African Americans in House 39 38 36 % of total House membership 8.9 8.7 8.3 % of Democratic Caucus 15.1 18.1 17.6 Number leadership positions3 32 19 22 Number of prestige committee assignmentsb 9 6 10 Average seniority (in years) 6.0 7.9 8.8 Notes: Table includes data for African American Democrats only. There was 1 African American Republican in the 103rd Congress; there were 2 in the 104th, and 1 in the 107th House. lLeadership positions include standing committee and subcommittee chairs, party whips, and membership. on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. bPrestige Committees are Appropriations, Budget, Rules, and Ways and Means. American legislators were able to maintain some important strategic standing in the House by virtue of maintaining power and influence Within the Democratic Party’s organizational hierarchy. After the change in party control, they became a larger proportion of the Democratic caucus, gained more party Whip positions, and they increased their presence on the Democratic Steering and Policy Com— mittee. In the 107th Congress, for example, John Lewis and Maxine Waters, Calif, were two of the Democrats’ four chief deputy whips, and African Ameri— cans were represented on the Steering and Policy Committee in proportion to their presence in the Democratic caucus (17 percent). Thus while their overall institutional power was noticeably diminished, they remained important and invested players in the bargaining and coalition politics of the House. Regardless of which party is in control, it is likely that future increases in African American influence in Congress will come more from increased political incorporation than from increases in the numbers of African Americans elected. That is, given the current political and legal climate regarding the creation of majority— minority legislative districts and the fact that, even under the best of circumstances, there is a finite number of such districts that can be drawn, it is likely that the number of African Americans receiving prestige committee assign— ments or acquiring leadership positions will increase faster than the number of additional African Americans elected to the House. Greater incorporation may be the most efficient and effective short—term strategy for ensuring the substan— tive representation of black interests in Congress. Yet, as mentioned above, an increased reliance on political incorporation may present African American leg— islators With a profound dilemma. . A One cost of achieving higher levels of incorporation might be that these- Afiican Americans will be required to behave less like race men and women. and, 400 ’ ' Kerry L. Hayniei‘ displayva more overt commitment to the values of the larger institution. For example, to increase their power and influence, black representatives might prior— itize assignments on prestige committees over assignments on committees whose jurisdictions include traditional black interest areas. Similarly, Lucius Barker and Mackjones argue that seeking more institutional incorporation may lead African American legislators to deracialize their agendas.12 They define démcialz'zaz‘ion as “the practice of blacks articulating political demands in terms that are not racially specific so that they appeal to a broader group and presumably do not alienate those who are predisposed to oppose black efforts.” 13 Because it is often linked with attempts at coalition building, deracialization is advocated by many as a use— ful means of integrating African Americans into political institutions and advanc— ing black interests.14 However, Barker and Jones persuasively argue that deracial—' ization may contribute to what they call the “routinization” of black politics, in which the behavior of African Americans becomes more “system supporting” and less “system challenging“; If such tradeoffs become necessary, greater incorpo— ration of African American legislators may be inconsistent with efforts to articu— late and promote the interests of African American constituents. I address this potential tradeoff dilemma by the committee assignment patterns and , roll call voting behavior of African Americans in Congress during a portion of the outsider—to —insider transition period. Committee Assignments and Interest Representation The literature on legislatures has long recognized the importance of stand— ing committees in the policymaking process.”5 Legislative scholars routinely use a typology developed by Steven Smith and Christopher Deering to categorize committees into what have become four well-known committee types— - prestige, policy, constituency, and unrequested.17 Prestige committees are consid- ered the most powerful or most influential. The Appropriations, Budget, Rules, and Ways and Means Committees are in this group. Committees that address important policy domains, such as education, national security, or transportation, make up the policy committee category. Constituency committees are those that provide members with the opportunity to be directly responsive to the particular needs of their constituents and districts. Agriculture, Science, and Veterans’ Affairs are examples of constituency committees. Committees that are not gener— ally coveted by members are labeled “unrequested,” or undesirable. Committees perform vital agenda— setting and gate — keeping functions. That is, committees control the substantive content of bills, as well as determine if and when a piece of legislation will reach the full House. They have the capacity to ‘ prevent legislation—even that which might enjoy the support of the majority of the legislature —from ever being considered. Committees thus can substantially control the set of issues and policy initiatives that are debated in and decided by Congress.18 Committee assignments also have instrumental importance. It is through participation in committees that legislators have their greatest direct African Americans and the New Politics of Inclusion 401 effect on public policy Standing committees can place members of Congress in important strategic positions from which they are able to promote and advance their policy agendas. From the perspective of the representative, however, all com- mittee assignments are not the same. Committees have varying jurisdictions and unique responsibilities, and legislators are better able to advance their agendas and the interests of their constituents if they receive certain committee assignments rather than others. Members of Congress tend to rank committees whose juris- diction is relevant to the interests found in their district high“on their committee assignment request list. Such assignments allow representatives to act, or appear to act, in a manner that is responsive to their constituents.19 Kenneth Shepsle has suggested that because standing committees are juris- dictionally based, their members acquire a stake in their respective jurisdictions. This results in committees that consist primarily of what he calls “interesteds” or “preference outliers.” Shepsle argues that this is agreeable to legislators “because this arrangement permits them to specialize and accumulate power iri'just those areas of special interest to those who must renew their contracts every other year.”20 Because they consist mainly of “interesteds” and “preference outliers”, standing committees are an excellent venue from which to explore the degree to which African American members of Congress advocate for or seek to protect black interests and whether or not increased political incorporation comes at the expense of black interest representation.21 Given that the overwhelming majority of these legislators are elected from majority—black districts with distinctive eco- nomic and social needs, it is reasonable to expect them to be significantly repre— sented on those committees whose jurisdictions include traditional minority interest areas, such as civil rights, education, health care, social welfare, and employment opportunities. Influence potential is a measure commonly used to estimate the significance and instrumental value of particular committee assignments to groups in a legis- lature. It is the percentage of a committee’s members who come from a particu- lar legislative subgroup. Because committees enable their members to specialize and acquire power in the policy areas within their jurisdiction, the degree tc whic...
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