Commentary: Is Herman Cain Able?

Commentary: Is Herman Cain Able?

Based on Herman Cain’s unsympathetic campaign rhetoric, should Blacks vote for him?

Published October 13, 2011

If you’re reading this, it’s a cinch to assume you know the name Herman Cain. The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and now the Republican frontrunner in the 2012 presidential horse race, is extremely popular with the Tea Party. He is also a favorite on FOX News, which generously allows him time to air his highly conservative views.

In the past few weeks, Cain has been working overtime exercising his right to free speech by expressing his controversial views about the poor, the unemployed, Obama, the Democrats and African-Americans.

During a recent campaign stop, Cain took aim at the 14 million Americans who are unemployed, as well as the Occupy Wall Street movement that has taken its own aim at the gross inequality of wealth in this country. In a classic case of the blame-the-victim tactics that Republicans employ so well, Cain said that, essentially, it’s poor people’s fault if they’re broke and unemployed, not lopsided Republican economic policies that gave huge tax breaks to the wealthy and left the middle class and poor hanging out to dry-rot.

According to the AFL-CIO, the loss of American manufacturing, professional service and information sector jobs has been ongoing since 1998. Economic experts say that many of these jobs are being “outsourced to foreign countries and may never return. But none of that seems to matter to Cain.

And what about his fellow African-Americans who have been particularly hard hit by this recession? Given the years of systemic racism that have traditionally left them the “last hired, first fired,” Blacks and Latinos tend to hurt more during times of economic crisis. In addition to suffering financially, they are often the victims of racially motivated discrimination or violence. According to, the number of racial discrimination cases in the workplace has increased since 1964, when Title VII was passed to guard against it.


Though it’s clear that Blacks are disproportionately impoverished and imprisoned in the U.S., this information falls on deaf ears when it comes to Cain. “I don't believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way," he says.

Cain also accused the Democratic Party of “brainwashing” African-Americans simply because many of us refuse to join him and the Republican Party. Apparently he hasn’t considered the fact that many of the GOP’s policies run counter to African-Americans’ interests. He also launched a thinly veiled insult at President Obama by charging that he wasn’t a “strong Black man like King.” I won’t even dignify that cheap shot with a response.


Cain’s ultra right-wing views may make him the darling candidate of the Tea Party, but they will not resonate with the majority of African-Americans. His inflammatory rhetoric makes it abundantly clear that Cain is not able to help Black people.  

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Written by By Charlie Braxton


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