Herman Cain and Barack Obama; Separated at Birth?

17 Oct

Ideological Twins

by Yvette Carnell

Einstein famously said that if you can’t explain something simply, then you don’t understand it. And right now, black folks are having a hard time explaining to me why Herman Cain is being caricatured as The Boondocks’ Uncle Ruckus whilst Obama is being heralded as the incarnation of MLK.

Every choice demonstrates a person’s values, and politicians are no exception to that. So it is perfectly reasonable for African Americans to question Cain’s bona fides using his proposed policies and past remarks as a measure. It is, by extension, also reasonable for African Americans to reach the conclusion that Cain’s opposition to social justice (“if you’re not rich, blame yourself”) and his refusal to acknowledge racism as a factor in American life (“I don’t believe racism today holds anybody back in a big way”) shoot stray of the African American ideal.

But what of Obama’s incongruences?

Being black in America translates in manifold ways, but for Cain and Obama, the import of American blackness translates similarly. Cain queues white adoration when he, appropriately I think, evokes the story of how his father worked three jobs until he could afford to work two, and two until he could afford to work one. But then Cain errs by misjudging his father’s experience as a demonstration of American colorblindness rather than calling it what it really was; an affirmation that hard work is a formidable tool for combatting institutionalized racism.

Similarly, when faced with African American consternation, Obama, like Cain, queues white populist arousal by asserting that “a rising tide lifts all boats”.  When Herman Cain intimates that everything is all hunky dory in America, his sentiments are echoed by a President who chides black people to stop “crying” and take off their “slippers”. In a nutshell, the President is saying, as did Cain, “…blame yourself.”

Does anyone seriously believe that most of the policies we see coming out of the Obama administration, such as freezing federal wages, cutting discretionary spending, bailing out banks, increasing drone attacks and the like, wouldn’t be the same policies we’d see coming out of a Cain administration?

What Cain and Obama have in common is that they both represent domesticated adaptations of blackness. They both fish in the same pond because theirs are the only representations of blackness accepted by the mainstream political establishment.  Repudiation of generally accepted African American memes is the litmus test for black presidential candidates in both major political parties.

So we end up with two men who are saying roughly the same thing, to the same people (white people), and, quite remarkably, getting opposite reactions from the black community.

One man fetishizes the 60’s with a faux -preacher style rhetoric, but doesn’t reflect any of that 60’s moral conviction in his policies. The other man discusses self-stewardship in the same vein as Malcolm X, but doesn’t include any critique of racism in his rhetoric.

Truth is, both men are crippled aberrations of authentic black leadership. Cain and Obama are nothing more than stilted re-imaginings of Malcolm and Martin.  But with our blind spot firmly in place, we somehow see these failings in only one man.

Maybe Cain was right. Maybe we are brainwashed.


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5 Responses to “Herman Cain and Barack Obama; Separated at Birth?”

  1. WizardG October 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    They are both simply working for the same boss. Their objective is to gain as much wealth and power for themselves as possible, no matter how many others must suffer and how many must die. They are part of the same shameful diabolical group, only as low-level lieutenants that are willing to do what they are told.

    I remember reading about slaves who fought alongside their plantation masters against the north and those freed slaves who were fighting for complete liberty and unity for all African-Americans etc. As it is little of that has been achieved for all, but still today many of the “blacks” are still working against each other in different ways and at different levels of this sordid, insane game we call life.

    • Eric M. October 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

      Excellent comments WizardZ.

  2. PghRich October 18, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    There is one think that is quite evident and that is that neither Ms Carnell or WizardG have been brainwashed You have to have a Brain to be brainwashed

    Anyone that woud compare Cain to President Obama show that thy DON’t have one

    • Yvette Carnell October 18, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

      You have to have a brain to have an intelligent conversation. In which case, I’m still waiting. One day, PghRich, you’ll exceed, or even meet, my expectations. Until then…

  3. Anonymous October 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    To put a not too fine a point on it, this whole entry is trolling.

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