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Frederick Butler

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Herman Cain, Tavis Smiley & Cornel West: Black Sheep or Wolves in Black Sheep's Clothing?

Posted: 10/19/11 08:58 PM ET

For many black voters selecting a candidate for President during the 2008 election was a simple choice between a 70-year-old man who represented a Republican establishment that traditionally supported policies not in the interest of their community, or a fresh-faced, charismatic black Senator from Illinois whose candidacy appeared to be the crystallization of a dream prophesized by an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights.

The math was easy, and it equated to 96 percent of African-American voters casting their ballot for Barack Obama, making him our nation's first black President.

So doing it again in 2012 is a no-brainer, right?

According to candidate for the GOP nomination for President Herman Cain, and Black activists Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West, it shouldn't be.

Cain, Smiley and West are members of a group of African-American public figures who believe that Black voters should entertain the idea of casting their vote elsewhere when selecting the next President of the United States.

Why?

Cain, who is attempting to gain the GOP nomination for President and run against President Obama in 2012 believes that blacks have been "brainwashed" into traditionally voting democrat, and should consider supporting his bid for President.

Smiley and West, whose criticism of Obama started shortly after they didn't receive invites to President Obama's premium inauguration events, claim that Blacks have been underserved and ignored by Obama's administration and shouldn't be so quick to support him on Election Day.

Smiley and West also embarked on a Poverty Bus Tour in August, taking them through 18 cities and across 11 states to speak with Americans who "have been hit hardest by the recession." Coincidently, the bus tour also started along with a new radio show on PBS titled "Smiley and West."

West and Smiley are also authors who often sell books that focus on issues pertaining to the plight of the poor and minority communities.

Too often, black issues have been nothing more than a political football used to score a few extra points for politicians, or push ratings and book sales of black activists seeking an increased public persona and financial gain.

The President's critics on "blackness" all question his contribution to the advancement of black America. However, none of them have any successes in the black community of their own to point to other than book sales, paid speaking engagements at conventions or on cable news channels.

Honestly, you could say that the black community has done more for them than they've done for us. Buying their books, listening to their radio shows, and showing up to their events has done more to advance their careers than the so-called "black agenda."

At least Obama offers an ear to the Black community, and to be honest, a growing number of young black Americans are growing tired of seeing the likes of Jesse Jackson, Tavis Smiley and Cornel West speak for us without our consent.

We voted for Obama, we didn't vote for them. So who are they to question the President's contribution to the Black community?

If Obama never passes another piece of legislation the mere sight of seeing a black man lead a nation has had a tremendous impact on the black community.

Black Americans who would never dream of becoming world leaders or participating in the democratic process are now stepping up and staking their claim to the American dream.

Also, President Obama's proposed jobs bill would have a profound impact on black unemployment -- one of the main issues crippling the black community.

The bill, which calls for the extension of unemployment insurance, will benefit 1.4 million African Americans and their families.

To help them in their search for work, the President is calling for a new tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed.

The bill re-affirms a commitment to rebuilding and revitalizing communities across the country, and will target investments to the neighborhoods hardest-hit by the recession.

The President's plan also supports subsidized jobs and summer/year-round jobs for African-American youth -- for whom unemployment is above 30 percent.

The jobs bill also calls for an extension and expansion of the payroll tax cut that will affect nearly 20 million African-American workers.

By extending the payroll tax cut for employees next year and expanding it to cut payroll taxes in half, the President's plan will help increase the paychecks of nearly 20 million African-American workers -- providing them with more money to spend in their communities.

President Obama has not been perfect. But, to say he has completely ignored African Americans while in office is irresponsible. You could also make the argument that he has done more for black America than any other black leader in the past 40 years.

Will blacks head to the polls the way they did in 2008? Probably not, but regardless of what Cain, West and Smiley have to say, blacks in America will continue to be in President Obama's corner. Not because we are brainwashed, not because we don't know the issues, but because he offers the best chance for the advancement of the community -- not just another speech, self-promoting tour, book or radio show.