What if on November 6, 2012, voters across America would choose between two African-Americans for president? If Republican Herman Cain has it his way, that’s exactly what the choice will be.
A little known political figure in the country at large, Cain is steadily increasing his support from within the GOP. The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and former nationally syndicated radio talk show host has mad clear that he wants to seek his party’s nomination for president.
Last month, a Gallup poll found that Cain registered less than 1 percent support among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. That put him seventeenth among potential candidates named in the poll. Though the odd of him actually getting it are slim, the Republicans have yet to decide on a frontrunner or runners as yet.
With that in mind, it seems that Cain has decided to make a name for himself early on in the game. And he was busy doing just that in New Hampshire, where he fielded questions on race as it relates to leadership.
“Now people are over this first black president thing,” said Cain. “But there are some people who will say, ‘I’m not going to vote for another black guy because this one didn’t work out. And my response is, ‘Well, what about those 43 white guys you put in there? How did they work out?
Don’t condemn me because the first black one was bad.”
Cain believes as many Republicans do that President Obama has used his power to the detriment of the country, implementing policies that harm more Americans that they help. He also believes that our country is over the excitement of having a black President and that with that occurrence noted in the history books, Americans will be able to judge a person’s ability to lead in a vacuum of ideals that does not include their skin color. Effectively, the note he hopes to strike in his early campaigning is “I’m not that type of black, I’m different.”
The problem with that compare and contrast strategy is that in doing so Cain seems to reaffirm that there is such a thing as the typical black person. That there is a group of “those Black folks” and others like Herman Cain. The fact that in 2011 with Black people from every walk of life and uncountable variation of stories, that Cain believes he needs to simplify the narrative.
A bigger problem for Cain is that even in that bubble where race is not a factor in voters minds, he still comes up short. While he is a nationally recognized businessman, he does not have any formal political experience and unlike Palin is not being propelled into the spotlight under the wings of an already established candidate.
He may cling to many of the conservative social views that work for the Republican base and are the views of African-Americans, but Cain’s views on gay marriage, separation of church and state and abortion can only get him so far. Overwhelmingly, many African-Americans as well as many other Americans choose the Democrats because its platform is more in tune with the challenges they face.
In some ways Cain’s statement is an unintentional nod to progression. Not only does our country have a Black president, we have people who believe that we can have another. We may not agree with Cain’s political views- but we have taken some steps down the road and it’s something worth pointing out.