GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain dredged up the stock GOP racial attack canard that blacks are brainwashed into blindly backing the Democrats. Pat Buchanan wasted no time in jumping in and agreeing with Cain. He added the other stock GOP hit piece that the Democrats practice a modern day form of plantationism by keeping the black vote in perpetual lock down mode. Cain and Buchanan's point is that supposedly blacks have been so one-dimensional in backing the Democrats that they are blind to the fact that the Democrats for the past near six decades have promised blacks everything, and delivered almost nothing. Blacks still have the highest failed public schools, unemployment, poverty, and mortality, incarceration rates. The Congressional Black Caucus has certainly not been shy about prodding President Obama in the past year to do more, much more, to combat the colossal program of black joblessness and poverty. But they can do that and know that they'll get a listen from Obama and the Democrats.
Blacks know that the same can't be said of the GOP. The GOP's long, blatant, and infuriating history of racial exclusion, neglect and race baiting, and polarization has insured that the door remains tightly slammed to any kind of dissent or complaint or appeals from blacks to address their issues. endless foot in the mouth, racially-insulting gaffes, racially-loaded campaign ads by Republican officials and politicians, and the refusal by mainstream GOP leaders to loudly condemn them, ignore, downplay, or worse defend them hasn't helped. The endless racist taunts, mockery, depictions, and ridicule of President Obama have been a textbook example of how a party that claims to want to break the clamp that the Democrats have on the black vote does everything to ensure that the Democratic clamp is even tighter.
Cain doesn't help his case for de-brainwashing blacks. His positions on the issues are well-known: federal taxes and government services (virtually none), labor unions (further weaken their power), health care reform law (repeal it), Social Security and Medicare (massive privatization), education, (vouchers, school choice), and financial reform (calls it "deform" and says untie corporations hands). For the majority of African-Americans, working class, and poor, this would ensure even more poverty, need, and even speedier erosion of their hard won gains of the past two decades. This isn't brainwashing to realize this. This is pure, pragmatic self-interest, and that's the driving force of politics.
Despite the shots they take at the Democrats for taking them and their vote for granted, most blacks still look to them to fight the tough battles for health care, greater funding for education and jobs, voting rights protections, affirmative action, and against racial discrimination, and their retrograde nominees to the Supreme Court appointments, Thomas being the Gold standard of proof of that, that would roll back the civil rights clock, and their peck away at affirmative action, civil rights and civil liberties protections.
The GOP understands the fundamental political axiom that self-interest rules politics as well if not better than the Democrats. Party leaders have long known that blue collar white voters, especially male voters, can be easily aroused to vote and shout loudly on the emotional wedge issues; abortion, family values, anti-gay marriage and tax cuts. For months, they whipped up their hysteria and borderline racism against health care reform. This was glaringly apparent in ferocity and bile spouted by the shock troops the GOP leaders in consort with the tea baggers brought out to harangue, harass and bully Democrat legislators on the eve of the health care vote. These are the very voters that GOP presidents and aspiring presidents Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr. and W. Bush, and John McCain and legions of GOP governors, senators and congresspersons banked for victory and to seize and maintain regional and national political dominance.
Even in losing presidential election years for GOP presidential candidates Bob Dole in 1996 and McCain in 2008, Republicans would not have been competitive without the bail out from white male voters. The political facts for the GOP remain unchanged. Elections are usually won by candidates with a solid and impassioned core of bloc voters. White males, particularly older white males, vote consistently and faithfully. And they voted in a far greater percentage than Hispanics and blacks. The November 2010 mid-term elections again proved that point with a vengeance. The Tea Party engineered a political palace revolt against the GOP mainstream establishment defeated some GOP incumbents in the primaries, and they did it with one message to the party: move even further to the right on the issues are suffer the consequences. The GOP mainstream leaders got the message. If Cain even dared utter anything that could remotely be considered a moderate position on Social Security, taxes or the unions, he and his candidacy would be DOA in the GOP.
Cain knows full well that a jibe here and there at blacks for their supposed slavish loyalty to the GOP won't change anything as long as the GOP remains the racial code spewing, government and labor bashing, and anti-civil rights party it has relentlessly been the past half century. But then again Cain wouldn't be where he is if it wasn't.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on KTYM Radio Los Angeles streamed on ktym.com podcast on blogtalkradio.com and internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com
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