“If it looks like a duck; walks like a duck; and quacks, it’s a duck:” The Party of Lincoln’s Race Problem

Its official, Herman Cain has "enthusiastically" endorsed Newt Gingrich for president of the United States.

"There are many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is that I know that Speaker Gingrich is a patriot. Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas, and I also know that Speaker Gingrich is running for president and going through this sausage grinder," said Cain. "I know what this sausage grinder is all about. I know that he is going through this sausage grinder because he cares about the future of the United States of America."

Cain, the former head of Godfather Pizza and a former frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination who suspended his campaign in December under a cloud of allegations of sexual and marital deviance is black, and to some, this is the kind of prima facie evidence that supports Newt's claim that he is not a racist.

I concede that there are times when my eyes and ears seem to lie to me about certain things, but in the case of Newt Gingrich, I like the old saying, "if it looks like a duck; walks like a duck; and quacks, it's a duck."

Based on his actions and words during much of his public life, in my mind, Newt Gingrich is an unapologetic and quite dangerous racist.

In an effort to win the Republican nomination for president, he has decided to use to his advantage the fear, anger, resentment, and anxieties of many white voters who make up the base of the Republican Party.

New York Times columnist, Charles Blow, opines about why Gingrich's campaign is so appealing to many white Republican voters: "he connects with a silent slice of their core convictions – their deep-seated, long-simmering issues with an 'elite' media bias, minority 'privilege' and Obama's 'otherness.'"

Speaker Gingrich is not alone. All the Republican nominees vying for President Obama's job – some more overtly than others – during this presidential nomination cycle have played the race card to gain the support of their Party's white voters.

Nonetheless, as a good social scientist, I'm open to the possibility that my mind can be changed if presented with countervailing evidence.

The Republican Party can put to rest the notion that its nominees are tapping into white racial animus to advance their presidential ambitions. The remaining Republican candidates can agree to participate in several debates that are dedicated solely to issues concerning people of color - for example, racial and economic inequality, educational opportunity, mass incarceration, welfare dependency, immigration, single-parented households, and so on.

Several nights devoted to Republican perspectives on the nature of the racial and ethnic divide and their solutions would be eye opening. They should have a racially and ethnically diverse panel of reporters ask the questions to assuage any concerns people may have about the people asking the questions.

The Republicans running for president could silence all of their critics (like me) who say they are nothing but a bunch of racists (albeit some worse and more dangerous than others) and show the country that they are truly, as they say, "the Party of Lincoln!"

Finally, I think black Republicans would also benefit from a candid discussion about race and ethnicity and should lead the call for such a debate – it would reveal all the good ideas they always say Republican have, and, as they argue, show why black people like me need to "get off the liberal plantation."


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