Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., resigned from Congress Wednesday. His letter of resignation to Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, cited his poor health and treatment for bipolar disorder at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
The letter also addressed the fact that Jackson is under two investigations, one by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for misuse of campaign funds, and another by the House Ethics Committee.
Before his departure, Jackson was re-elected to the House of Representatives with 63 percent of the vote, tallies from _The New York Times_ showed.
Representative Maxine Water, D-Calif., was re-elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 with 79.3 percent the vote, even as she was under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for her role in the distribution of Wall Street bailout funds to a bank her husband had connections with.
She was eventually cleared by the ethics committee and was re-elected in 2012 with 70.4 percent of the vote, reported the _Times_ on Nov. 6.
Waters and Jackson represent black communities themselves. Both overwhelmingly won the votes of black Americans in their districts. And what their stories show, like that of Detroiters and former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, is the black electorate’s tolerance for flawed candidates, who are at worst corrupt.
I believe it is human nature to choose someone who looks like you to lead you. There is a desire for people like us to succeed. It bodes well for our own success. Those habits are broken from time to time, as seen with the election of President Barack Obama in 2008.
However, the habit persists, and it is not necessarily shameful or shallow. There was a loyalty shown by women voters to Hillary Clinton when she was a presidential candidate in the Democratic primary of 2008.
In “Dissecting the 2008 Electorate: Most Diverse in U.S. History” by the Pew Research Center, data showed that black Americans made up approximately 12.1 percent of the 131 million people who voted in 2008. Of that 12.1 percent of black Americans who voted, 95 percent voted for Obama.
Insidiously, as black Americans choose poor leaders, it is not only to our own detriment, but allows our votes to matter less and less. It allows data like that from Pew to be too easily explained by “they voted for the black candidate because he is black.”
No matter that polls conducted by Pew show former Vice President Al Gore won over 90 percent of the black electorate in 2000 and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, won 88 percent in 2004.
Former Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., should have been ousted not only in this most recent election, but in 2010 after he had been indicted on 11 counts of ethics violations by the House Ethics Committee.
Rangel was re-elected in 2010 with 80.4 percent of the vote; he was re-elected in 2012 with 90.8 percent of the vote, as shown by election results from the _Times_.
This loyalty by the black electorate to black candidates, if it is to continue, demands much more scrutiny. A black face cannot mask bad policies or bad character.