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Who is Herman Cain?

ELINOR TATUM Publisher and Editor in Chief | 10/26/2011, 5:09 p.m.
Who is Herman Cain?

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When guidance counselors need to care

In this strangest of strange political seasons, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza is the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.

What some have called the "White Party of America" because it has so few people of color voting for its candidates and such a miniscule number of elected people of color-despite being the historic party of Abraham Lincoln-suddenly has a Black man pushing to be its standard bearer.

Herman Cain is a graduate of Morehouse University, a prestigious HBCU. He is the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and is an associate minister at Antioch Baptist Church North in Atlanta. Well, Cain's politics have apparently put him a bit at odds with the senior pastor of the church, the Rev. Cameron M. Alexander, who does not share Cain's conservative-leaning politics-in fact, the church itself tends to be more left leaning.

But the question on many African-Americans' minds is how a Black man educated at Morehouse (where Martin Luther King Jr. and Andrew Young, among other notable Black men, were educated), raised in a politically liberal church can turn out to be so conservative-a Tea Party favorite-and appear to be disconnected from the Black community.

Our reading of Cain is that he is not a friend to Black America. In actuality, we are not sure he is a friend to anyone; his 9-9-9 tax plan will hit the poor the hardest and will let the fat cats get away with paying even less in taxes.

His idea seems to be that simple-minded sloganism will win the day by fooling people and that despite such cynicism, he will get to the White House.

What strikes me is the question of why white America is so taken with him. At a recent dinner party, I sat with a group of people I consider to be quite intelligent-until they began to talk about how much they liked Cain.

I was floored.

How had he gotten to these people? Do they actually believe he could be a better president than Barack Obama? Or is it that they believe only another Black man could beat a Black man in a presidential race?

Is it that white America is so scared of Obama, and wants him out of the White House so badly, that they have moved to supporting a Black man with no governing experience-who ran a pizza chain-to prove that they are not racist and that the "right" Black man could and should be president.

Cain scares me. I'm not quite sure what aspect of the guy gets to me the most-could it be that there really has been so little vetting of him as a candidate? Could it be his lack of connection to the Black community? Could it be his disregard for the needs of all communities of color and those less advantaged?

Or is it that I am simply disturbed by the fact that there is no real presidential material on the Republican side-no real message, zero concern for the masses and no policies to help the country move forward economically? It appears as if the Republicans have such a poor bench that even with Cain's inadequacies he is one of the only candidates to generate any real traction on their side.

From our standpoint, if any of these Republicans were to make it to the White House at this time the country would again face grave danger. After three years of playing clean-up of many of the things we hold near and dear, a move back to the Republicans would be a tragedy.

The presidency should be held in the highest regard. The last thing we need is a silly man with silly ideas leading us. We have seen what happens when we elect people who have no regard for the people's needs. We need to see Cain for who he is; I don't think that has happened yet.

Will the Republicans allow him to go forth and take this nomination? I am not sure, but I do know that we need to know a whole lot more about him. If we don't, ignorance of who he is and what he stands for can only bring us much more trouble.