I’ve been studying on Allen West who was just elected from Florida’s 22nd District to the House in the midterm elections. He was one of 2 Black Tea Party candidates who managed to get himself elected. His district went 52% for Obama in 2008 and is mostly comprised of wealthy white people. We’re talking Boca Raton and Delray Beach, y’all.

West has the hair of a Congressman and manages to hit all the Tea Party talking points including invoking the invocation of the 2nd Amendment and the vague threat of the government taking away people’s guns but not in an inflammatory, obvious way like say, Sharron Angle. West may talk openly about “1930s Germany” but he won’t say Obama’s name in that sentence or call him Hitler directly (see video above for a classic example of West’s style). From Earl Ofari Hutchinson in  New America Media:

The question of who should or shouldn’t be in the Congressional Black Caucus only came up when new Tea Party–backed n GOP congressmen Allen West (R-Florida) and Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) were asked whether they intended to join. The short answer to the question who should be a CBC member is: any African-American who sits in Congress. The name is the Congressional Black Caucus, not the Congressional Black Democratic Caucus. CBC chair Barbara Lee unhesitatingly tossed out the olive branch of membership and said West and Scott are more than welcome to join.

But in fact, there are several reasons the issue is muddy. Scott and West have sent mixed signals about whether they want in. West says yes. Scott has virtually said no, citing his allegedly rancorous experiences with black Democrats while he was a member of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus. But ruffled personal feelings are just part of the equation. There’s the issue of party affiliation, ideology, and the even larger question of what most African-Americans expect from their representatives.

Scott and West are not merely political outsiders. They are firmly committed to pushing the Tea Party’s agenda in Congress, as they have promised in countless political speeches, pep rallies, and Tea Party confabs. They see nothing wrong in being—and, in fact, take great pride in their role as—the desperately needed black face and voice of the Tea Party and of GOP ultra-conservatives in and out of Congress. Tea Party leaders have made no effort to mask their one overriding aim: to do everything politically possible to ensure that the Obama presidency is failed, flawed, and one-term. Scott and West share that goal. This makes them diametrically opposed to the political and philosophical goals of the current CBC membership.

I couldn’t figure out what was so attractive about him given his constituency until I realized that he’s playing the safe Negro game. West’s appeal is that unlike Barack Obama who may have seemed safe before, West is here to re-assure the frightened white seniors of Boca Raton that he can be a Booker T. Washington to Barack Obama’s perceived scary Nat Turner.

Of we all know that the President is far from Nat Turner territory. He’s more of a W.E.B. DuBois guy, I expect. Still he’s a free thinker and a powerful man. West has gotten ahead through offering to be a Michael Steele-style house negro willing to turn his back on the needs of his own people if it feathers his own bed, including taking a harsh anti-immigration stance and fighting against life-saving healthcare reform.

It intrigues me that he plans to join the Congressional Black Caucus. The Caucus has managed to find room over the years for both progressives and conservatives, even if it’s been traditionally filled with Democrats – there’s been a spectrum of political leanings which has proven challenging for those of us who believe that our representatives should put the needs of people before corporate interests. That said, the CBC has voted strongly with the President’s agenda on Wall Street reform, healthcare, the wars, the economy, and more. Yet, it may be a signal that he plans to moderate his stances rather than going the Clarence Thomas/Uncle Ruckus/Negro Who Hates Negro route. After all, the coast is clear at least for a couple years til he has to run again. We’ll be watching…

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