The Republicans are talking a good game about the need to diversify their Party with the Black and Brown faces who overwhelming supported President Barack Obama in November. But, if past GOP attempts at diversity are any indicator, their attempts will be perceived as nothing more than something I call “diversity in Blackface.”
Somehow, the GOP reasons that as long as they prop up a person of color as a “rising star,” they will gain credibility with minority voters. That their Blackface candidate vehemently opposes most policies that minority voters care about and insults President Obama is oblivious to them. While the term “Blackface” is inflammatory and insulting, I believe many minorities are equally put off by politicians who share their skin tone, yet sound as racially divisive—or indifferent—as some of their fellow White, male Party members.
The most recent examples are Allen West and Herman Cain, both of whom seemingly revel at the chance to antagonize Black Democratic voters.
During an interview on the “The O’Reilly Factor” last year, West referred to himself as a modern-day Harriet Tubman who is leading Black voters — whom he characterized as slaves — from the Democrat’s plantation. He also referred to California Congresswoman Maxine Waters as a “plantation boss.”
Then we have Herman “Uzbecki-becki-becki-stan” Cain who told CNN that Black voters “have been brainwashed in to not being open-minded” during his run for the White House. He also opined on President Obama’s “Blackness” during a radio interview in October of 2010.
Both men are Tea Party darlings and, at one point, were serious players in national GOP politics. Most Black voters, however, view them as nothing more than two dim-witted Black men who embarrassed themselves and the Black race with their buffoonish commentary on serious issues that make Blacks and other minorities question their Blackness.
Before lambasting my use of “Blackface” in reference to Cain or West, ask yourself if either man reminds you of Newt “Food Stamp President” Gingrich or Ann “Our blacks are better than their blacks” Coulter, then get back to me.
Then we have Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. While Jindal, a Rhodes Scholar and highly accomplished public servant, is certainly not as ignorant as West or Cain, to be a “Blackface candidate,” one simply has to assume the minority voters he or she purportedly wants to attract are ignorant.
For example, Jindal has recently spoken in favor of immigration reform, after realizing that his Party will need the Latino vote in the future. But in the past, he has also spoken out against granting services to illegal immigrants, such as in-state tuition and healthcare. (Maryland, via popular vote, has approved in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.) Jindal also opposes Obamacare — legislation that most Black and Latino voters support.
If he eventually runs for president in 2016, will Jindal change his mind on the aforementioned subjects? Or will he pretend minorities don’t know his record on these issues? Will he speak out against the “gifts” rhetoric in 2016 as he did several weeks ago? Or will he cave in to the loud mouths of his party as did one-time GOP chairman Michael Steele when given the chance to tell the Rush Limbaughs of the world to take a hike?
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sounds good too — at least for now.