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Race and beyond: Black against Black in the next presidential contest

Sam Fulwood III | 10/21/2011, 11:01 a.m.

But they're both Black and Americans. For this brief moment, they're standard bearers for their respective political parties. I'd love nothing more than to see them as the last two candidates standing. Perhaps their respective skin tones would cancel out racial concerns during the presidential debates, allowing voters to see only a sharp and distilled clash of governing ideologies.

Imagine the mind-blowing experience this would produce all across our nation, especially across Dixie. Would white and Black voters alike flip coins to decide which lever to pull? Or would they just vote for one of the Black men based on what they say on the campaign trail and be done with it?

About four years ago, I pooh-poohed the idea of a Black guy with a Muslim name getting elected president. Today, again, I'm wishing and hoping for something my heart wants to see but my head tells me is impossible. Could political lightning strike America once again, short-circuiting our tired notions about race and voting? Can the Republican Party establishment link arms with the Tea Party enthusiasts to unite behind the only candidate that Fox News says can beat Obama?

The Atlantic's Chris Good labeled Cain "the Alternate-Reality Candidate" and speculated he could very well be the Republican Party's flag bearer come next fall. Either Cain will make Romney appear "more real by comparison" and deliver the nomination to the former governor, says Good, or "Cain will win the nomination, at which point a portal will open connecting us to a parallel world ruled by charismatic antipoliticians with simple and catchy tax plans."

Goodness, I hope so. As improbable as it seems, I can't help myself from cheering Cain on to the nomination. Just the idea of him standing cheek-by-jowl with Obama in the run-up to the election-the two of them leading their respective parties, with almost nothing in common save their Black skins-thrills me like nothing else in the strange, strange world of politics.

Sam Fulwood III is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. This piece originally appeared on

www.americanprogressaction.org.