Did you see the Republican presidential candidate debate? I found it to be even more ridiculous than the Democrats' debate, not that either of them mean anything serious when it comes to the 2008 election. While I am not on either side at this point, I thought the Repubs were simply pitiful. There are three or four other White male candidates —which seem to be the only gender and race the Repubs can find in the 21st Century — who are waiting to get into the fray. I can't wait to see which Black Republican will come out publicly and endorse one of those White guys, especially one of those who participated in the "debate."
The Republican "debate," or so it was deemed, was more like a séance for Ronald Reagan. They were trying to raise him from the dead! Who won the debate? It was Reagan, hands down. It was held in the Reagan Library, with not a Black person in camera-shot, in none other than Simi Valley, Calif., where the cops who beat Rodney King were acquitted. The séance was an exercise in hero worship and groveling at the feet of Nancy Reagan, whose greatest contribution to Black people was her admonishment to "Just say no."
If they wanted to remember Reagan instead of have a real debate, maybe they should have held the event in Philadelphia, Miss. where Reagan kicked off his campaign for president. Oh yeah, that's also the city where Goodman, Cheney and Schwerner were murdered.
Now that the upcoming Republican campaign has been relegated to a remembrance of the "good old days" of Ronald Reagan, I can only imagine a handful of Black folks voting for a Republican candidate in 2008. For the most part, Black people suffered under the Reagan administration; why go back and suffer again?
I have thought for a while now that if Giuliani and McCain were the best the Repubs could offer, they would be in deep trouble in 2008. Now they have Mitt Romney, the one who invoked Reagan's name the most during the debate, and they are recruiting Fred Thompson who, they say, "looks and sounds" presidential, has the same characteristics as Reagan, and is a staunch conservative who can lead the Repubs back from the abyss. Now I get it; all it takes are "looks" to be president. Andre Agassi was right; "Image is everything," especially in politics. That's why George Bush rolls up his sleeves when he visits a disaster site, as if he's really going to do some work.
Considering the Repubs' presidential candidates, if they should win again, Black folks will be the ones in deep trouble. You know, by now one would think Black people understood national "politricks." After all ... our group has suffered the most under the U.S. political system, which has been dominated by White men since its inception. One would think that we would always be on top of our game, not allowing the crooks, liars and baby-kissers to lull us to sleep every four years with dumb answers to dumb questions. But noooo; we continue to go along to get along; we continue to "play" politics, never to win, just simply to play.
What we witnessed in both debates ... was a ritual performed to keep the lemmings in line and to make us believe something serious is going on in the political arena, something different, and maybe even something – this time – that will benefit Black people.
The Democrats held a love fest and the Republicans held a Ronald Reagan séance; were you persuaded by anyone? Have you made up your mind yet? Do you think Black folks will benefit no matter who gets elected? My cynicism as well as my historical perspective tell me "No." Also, I am reminded that if we continue to do the same thing, we will continue to get the same results.
It's pretty much cut and dry who the Black Dems will support; they have safe bets all around. But I can't wait to see who the Black Republicans endorse from their gang of 10 White guys. Or is it 14 now?
I hope the 2012 Republican debate will not be held at the George W. Bush "Library." What an oxymoronic setting that would be.
James Clingman is founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce and a professor at the University of Cincinnati.