Barack Obama versus Herman Cain? The new reality in American politics

Joe Olvera

Joe Olvera is a long-time journalist whose latest book is - Chicano Sin Fin: Memoirs of a Chicano Journalist

© 2011 

One minority at a time, please. That must be the clarion call that’s coming out from both the Democrats and Republicans, now that Herman Cain is pushing forth with his attempt to gain the nomination as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.

But, coming from one minority — namely me — ha, ha we fooled you, didn’t we? Can you imagine the historical implications of an African American running for the presidency from each party? Of course, Barack Obama broke the color line for the Demos, and, now, if things go well, the way I hope they do, we’ll have not just one, but, count them, two blacks running for this nation’s highest office.

Of course, it’s not yet a definite that the Republican Party will accept a black person as its candidate. Because, you know, hush … hush … whisper … whisper … the Republicans have not been known as being open-minded when it comes to race and ethnicity, and that’s putting it mildly.

Even though it was the Republican Party that fought to free the slaves, it went downhill from that point on in not making it possible for blacks to enter politics. As for Obama, he’d better watch out, because he’s finally got someone on his tail. We don’t know all that much about Cain and the hope is that he can survive the brutal nominating process. But, so far, he’s hanging in there and challenging the status quo.

A businessman of high regard, Cain seems like a breath of fresh air for the Republicans. To hear him speak, one would think that he knows where he’s been, and that he knows where he’s going. As an Independent myself, someone who’s voted Republican in the past and, of course, Democrat, I stand ready and anxious to see this dynamic duo slug it out. Since the Republicans really don’t have viable candidates running for the highest seat, Cain might just be the man who can carry them forward. Besides Michele Bachmann, I really don’t see anyone else that could get that Party moving into the forefront. Who? Rick Perry?

Forget about the Texas Governor, he’s got too much baggage, and he’s slipping on the banana peel of his past legislation and past actions. Who? Milt Romney (Uncle Milty)? Come on, just more of the same. Sure, he’s got millions of dollars, and he plans to spend as much as he needs to in order to win the nomination, but, uhh…uhh. not this time either, Milt. Sorry.

With Cain running, the Republicans at least have a chance to wrest the presidency from Obama. That is, unless something hidden in his closet brings him crashing down to reality. I hope that doesn’t happen, because, for the first time in many years, there’s excitement in the potential presidential race. Can you imagine? Two men who couldn’t even vote a few decades back, now gunning to be at the top of the heap?

Don’t get me wrong. I still like President Obama. He’s done a great job, even with the obstructionist Republicans gnawing at his heels on a constant basis. My vote is still for him, and I don’t think Cain or any other Republican can dissuade me from getting him re-elected, but, hee…hee…it’s going to be a honey of a race. All we know about Cain, at this point, is that he comes from modest means. His father, at one time, worked three jobs – as a janitor, a barber, and a chauffeur – to support his family. Cain’s mom was a domestic worker.

Their big dream was to be able to buy a house and to send their two sons, Herman and Thurman, to college. Both dreams were realized by saving and keeping the faith while living in the segregated south. Hey, doesn’t Cain’s story sound a little like Obama’s? They both came from modest means, as which African American didn’t? They both succeeded in their respective fields, and, now, they both command respect and they both have likability.

Of course, the campaign for the nomination still constitutes a long, hard road. Romney and Perry aren’t going anywhere. They are traditional candidates with, as far as I’m concerned, nothing exciting about their persona. Maybe Michele Bachmann can upset the apple cart, but, that’s unlikely. Ron Paul? Sure, he generates a buzz wherever he goes because he’s feisty and a fighter, taking on the likes of Perry – who thought he had the nomination all sewed up merely by showing up. But, no, that happened initially, but, Perry’s lost ground since then.

His dictatorial approach is turning people off, his penchant for relying on what he’s done in the past, instead of focusing on what he will do in the future, has caused him to fall from the highest peak. Romney? Again – what does he bring to the table, except tired, old ideas? The Republicans need to join the 21st Century; their out-dated methods will only bring them grief, and continued losses.

As this nation progresses in accepting all people, no matter the color of their skin and no matter their upbringing, political parties need to keep up with the changes. Republicans can no longer hide behind their cloaks of racial indifference and even hatred. They must embrace the new realities. Obama versus Cain? Two African Americans vying for the Presidency of the United States? It doesn’t get better than this. Anyway, it’s certainly worth considering, que no?

Sin Fin

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