Charlie RangelEnough already.

Enough with Harlem, Congress & an election cycle being held hostage to one man’s extreme vanity & foolhardy pride.

African-Americans and the people of Washington Heights and Harlem have a lot to thank Rep. Rangel for. But those days are gone. Rangel got a little too comfortable with the perks of power, got a little sloppy and entitled. What did he do? Let’s review (from Politico):

A special four-member investigative panel alleged on Thursday that Rangel had solicited millions of dollars in donations from corporations and charities for a New York City college building named after him, failed to disclose more than $600,000 in income and assets from his annual financial disclosure reports, improperly controlled four rent-stabilized units in a luxury Harlem apartment building, and did not pay income taxes on a resort home in the Dominican Republic.

He’s 80 now — how many terms does he even have left or would he prefer to be wheeled around like Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd. Does he want really want to die a Congressman? It’s long past time for Rangel to look for the graceful exit out. Rangel’s current plan of action seems to be: cling to whatever shreds of authority remain, loudly proclaim innocence despite a good deal of evidence, weather the storm in DC and rely on the charitable goodwill of his most loyal constituents to get re-elected.

That’s not how a lion should behave. The right thing to do would have been to resign from Congress when he first stepped down as chair of the Ways and Means Committee. But no…we now have to face yet another round of humiliating coverage of his many, many ethics violations. Plus an impending trial when the violations will be picked apart in great detail in front of an unrelenting TV stare.

Is this really what you want, Charlie? Do you really want to contribute personally to besmirching the name of this Congress which has achieved so much landmark legislation of late? The cold reality is: Congress is no longer the place where you will build or even save your reputation. That ship has sailed, my friend.

Instead, go home where you’re still loved. Consider taking a position teaching at a famous university or leading an influential nonprofit. Take on a second, twilight years career that redeems these ethical mis-steps and puts your sincere desire for public service back at the forefront. Clinging to your Congressional seat under these circumstances doesn’t just hurt you. It hurts your family, it hurts your employees, it hurts Harlem, it hurts black people and it hurts all the Democrats running for office in this mid-term election. Because you’re African-American, it doesn’t help our first African-American president either.

For the good of all — including most importantly yourself — it’s time to leave the stage and hop onto a new one. Cut your losses and strike out anew. Defeat will come eventually, one way or another. Why not leave on your own terms rather than grasp at denial and hope for the generosity of old colleagues — generosity that’s now strained? After all, this is not the year for other privileged Members of Congress, especially the Congressional Black Caucus, to hang back, shrug and wink at these serious charges. Voters are in no mood in general for corruption, particularly on the Hill, in the wake of severe economic distress. Most of us regular folk would go to jail or lose our jobs if we tried these shenanigans. People have to wonder — why don’t the same rules apply if you’re a Congressman?

There’s a new generation of leadership coming up behind you. Why not cast your influence behind your former staffer and thus retain some influence once he’s elected to your seat. Vince Morgan is a great alternative — a 4o-something professional and community leader filled with practical Obama-esque hope and change — and I’d urge all those in Rangel’s NY-15 district to vote for him if you think it’s time for someone who understands the needs of that district today.

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