Herman Cain is just another reminder that the Republican Party lacks any viable black leaders.
In perhaps the most logical move since declaring his candidacy, Herman Cain this weekend announced he’s “suspending” his presidential campaign. The news comes weeks after four women accused Cain of sexual harassment and Ginger White’s more recent claim that she and Cain had a 13-year affair, all of which led to a precipitous drop in Cain’s popular support.
While good news for Newt Gingrich, Cain’s failure is bad for the Republican Party’s race relations.
Race was not a factor in Cain’s dropping out, but it did play a big role in his campaign. Since day one, Cain insisted his following proved Republicans, a party that has since 2008 allowed anti-Obama racism to run rampant, are color-blind. “To all of those people who say that the Tea Party is a racist organization, eat your words,” the candidate said of his shockingly widespread support. He also said he would lead black people off of the “Democratic plantation.”
And Cain’s conservative allies happily helped Cain’s efforts, often insisting that black people can and should be Republicans. Conservative iron lady Ann Coulter fanned bipartisan racial flames by declaring, “Our [Republican] blacks are so much better than their blacks… To become a black Republican, you don’t just roll into it. You’re not going with the flow…and that’s why we have very impressive blacks in the Republican party.” “Impressive?” Really? Cain proves otherwise.
The fact that Cain was the most successful black GOP presidential candidate ever simply highlights the lack of viable black leaders within Republican ranks — and the party has no one to blame but themselves.
Republicans love to remind voters that anti-slavery president Abraham Lincoln was once a member of their political clan. They fail to mention, however, that the GOP in the 1960s made a concerted effort to move away from anything even remotely close to colorblind policies. That’s because they wanted to beat the Democrats, a party that was at the time courting the burgeoning civil rights movement. To stay on top, the Republicans needed to consolidate their power among white southerners. This tactic, the “Southern Strategy,” saw the GOP courting segregationist whites.
As the decades passed, the GOP increasingly pursued white voters, most notably when it consolidated its hold on evangelical social conservatives, a primarily white population. Today, after decades of such repulsive politics, 85% of black voters supporting the Democratic Party.
Cain is not and never was a symbol of the GOP’s post-racial politics. He’s a symbol of the party’s inability to evolve alongside the nation’s changing demographics. Hell, if you need any more proof, just consider Cain’s reaction to the civil rights movement.
“We decided to avoid trouble by moving to the back of the bus when the driver told us to,” Cain wrote of his involvement in the movement. “Dad always said, ‘Stay out of trouble,’ and we did.”
Though Cain was an ill-prepared, politically illiterate candidate who neither would win nor deserved the White House, it’s unfortunate his bid failed so miserably. It’s just another reminder that the Republican Party still falls behind when it comes to racial equality.
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