As if this year’s presidential pre-election scenario has not been topsy-turvy enough already, an entirely new face has suddenly joined the fray. Moreover he is grabbing national headlines and exposure away from existing candidates of his political party.
His name is Herman Cain, and if you aren’t familiar with the name by now, you must not have watched television or read the op-ed pages of any major newspapers for the last month or so.
Our own Michele Bachmann’s rating as a serious, new candidate had already begun to slide on the rating chart anyway. But with Cain’s emergence on the political scene, some are beginning to ask the question: “Michele who?” They seem to be saying, “I have found my new face for the election.”
The media apparently seem to have similar thoughts. In one week alone, I viewed him on six of the most highly rated TV talk shows, including the networks with the highest national ratings. I also observed him on three debate sessions with the other competing candidates for his party’s selection for president.
Although Cain’s positions on major issues were somewhat different from mine, he certainly held his own against all of the better-known and well-established candidates. For those looking for a new face to replace some of those “every-four-years candidates,” he might prove an alternative.
At one of the debates I watched, there were eight competing candidates, and three-quarters of them had been candidates for the office previously. The rest, except Cain, were public office holders or had held a high political office in the recent past. Cain was the only new, fresh face on the stage.
Last month, Cain shocked the political world when he won by a large margin the prestigious GOP Florida presidential straw poll. He topped all of the better-known candidates, including those predicted to win easily.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who had been predicted to win, finished a distant second with only 15.4 percent. The once-considered phenom Bachmann finished outright last.
There has been an unspoken presumption in the Black community that when a political party chooses a person of color for a elected position, it’s merely to divert the Black vote from the other party. President Obama has destroyed that kind of thinking as a myth in the Democratic Party.
Could Herman Cain be the one to do the same for the Republican Party? Or better still, can you imagine America having an all-Black presidential election in November of 2012? Obama vs. Cain!
Matthew Little welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.