Ron Robinson's Blog

DECEMBER 3, 2011 2:30PM

The Legacy of Cain's "Brother From Another Mother" Campaign

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I'm one of "those people" Herman Cain and some well known Conservatives have maligned as not "really" being Black. In other words, my mother's White and my father's Black. But my dad, who's 83 years old, was also born and raised in Lynchburg Va. during the height of segregation. And the both of us share the same take on Herman Cain's meteoric political rise and success in the face of scandal, even as he brings into being "Plan B" of his "suspended" Presidential campaign.

It's simple. He's the Koch brothers' BLACK "brother from another mother." In that role, he's embraced, proclaimed, and embodied the core values and sentiments of the GOP's most extreme free market, religious, Southern, and social Conservatives. But more importantly, he has aggressively channeled and provided camouflage for what many have identified as these Conservatives' race-tinged hatred of Obama and America's  diversity.

As such, he seemed to relish promoting animus towards and/or hostile policies affecting the majority of Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, gays, etc. while hypocritically opposing "government intrusion" into private lives, unless of course it curtailed the sexual, reproductive, and personal freedoms of others. And with his folksy charm, he could scapegoat the poor, sick, vulnerable, long term unemployed (i.e., what Republicans call "non-tax payers"), public sector workers, and racial minorities in ways that reprised the good ole days of the "great communicator, Ronald Reagan. And the GOP base pines for the days when Reagan launched his successful frontal assault on labor unions as well as racial affront to minorities and poor mothers, whom he also falsely and maliciously characterized as Cadillac driving Black "welfare queens." 

For a sustained period, Cain was the GOP candidate who most successfully stimulated the nostalgia for those days among "the base." With his charisma, charm, and clever wit, he skillfully demonized "social spending" (i.e., what Republicans call, "waste") and "government" for offering those in need a helping hand, while lambasting "liberals" as essentially the "root of all evil" in America and authors of his "high tech lynching." And no doubt, his deep voice and Southern twang helped resonate right-wing heart strings as he vitiated the 99% movement, progressives, Civil Rights groups, and the labor movement and gutterized their goal to create a more just, fair, equitable, and perfect Union, i.e., what Conservatives call "communism," "socialism," "fascism," "class warfare," "wealth redistribution," and "Black reparations."

No wonder political science professor, Robert C. Smith, has written that the core values of Conservatism and racism in America have always been one and the same. Whether or not a Black man articulates and exemplifies them does nothing to change that.

Perhaps that's also why Conservatives like Ann Coulter believe that Blacks such as Cain, Clarence Thomas, Michael Steele, etc., i.e. whom she referred to as, "Our Blacks" (i.e., Conservatives) are superior to whom she called, "Their Blacks" (i.e., Democrats). In other words, Coulter's "Blacks" are "supreme" because they're willing to champion what even recent scientific research has described as anti-social values as well as white-supremacist/racist sentiments, and predatory policy proscriptions of militant Conservatism described above. And therein lies the unique merit of "Coulter's Blacks" - they provide special affordance/license to Whites to not openly express racist sentiments towards Obama and racial minorities, but to simultaneously "self-exonerate" for doing so. BRILLIANT!

Hence the contradiction of White Conservatives who claim their own racial "colorblindness," yet go so overboard in their race-based "admiration," praise, and support of what they call "Our Blacks."

In my view, the most intriguing aspect of Cain's candidacy was that in the face of multiple sexual misconduct allegations made against him by White women he retained exuberant support among Conservatives who have expressed the greatest antipathy towards inter-racial relationships (and Blacks). This includes their willingness to portray a BLACK MAN (Cain) as a victim of "HIGH TECH LYNCHING" by "liberals" while they simultaneously "HIGH TECH RAPE" one WHITE WOMAN after another who publicly came out against him and/or condemned his "family values" hypocrisy.

Just think, when my dad was in his thirties, if a Black man was accused of merely looking at a White woman in a sexual manner he could be LITERALLY lynched, disemboweled, and burned alive by the White "CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVE" forbears of many of Cain's supporters - the same "Christians" whom Dr. Martin Luther King chastised in his "Letter From Birmingham Jail" for turning a blind eye to, enabling, and/or participating in the lynchings of Black men. The need to self-exonerate from that ugly history. And the continuing legacy of its underlying values may well motivate many Conservatives to enthusiastically support "Blacks like Cain," who symbolically wrap themselves in the confederate flags and metaphoric sheets of the “same old same Old South” (i.e., “the base”).  After all, the expectation and need for such symbolic Black sacrifice is entirely consistent with the destructive history of the “Southern rite of sacrifice.” 

In my view, Cain has masterfully played that race card and exploited that need. In fact, he added his own flavor to the racial recipe of the Republicans' infamous "Southern Strategy." Despite denials to the contrary, the goal of this ongoing strategy is to stir up racial resentment of Whites towards the overwhelming majority of what Cain called "brainwashed" Blacks (as well as non-White "illegals" etc.). This includes resentment towards "government," "taxes," and "liberals," which are portrayed as enabling lazy, undeserving "moochers," "parasites," and "non-taxpayers" to wreck the economy and our way of life.

Cain called his flavorful twist on that racial recipe, "Black Walnut." But it's not a black walnut born of just another mother, but rather one hanging from another tree, albeit a "9-9-9" money tree, with thirty pieces of right-wing sliver dangling like low-hanging “strange fruit” which Cain has skillfully picked clean. 

Sadly, I predict that this ironic twist on the GOP's "Southern Strategy" will be the lasting legacy of the "Brother from Another Mother" and what will most likely be his "permanent campaign,"  as a political force, internet fund raising presence, and public/media celebrity.  He will stay in the political game no matter what and will retain significant support not only from the Kochs, but also among many right-wing Whites no matter how his scandals play out for the reasons described above. But he has set the threshold for any Black Conservative who shall follow in his footsteps as a potential Presidential candidate.

They must be as charismatic as Cain and as willing to wrap themselves in the sentiments of the Confederate flag and White Southern Christianity, but also be free of the sexual scandals and imbroglios, especially with White women. That's not cynicism on my part, but rather a reasonable assessment given the consistent and historical behavior of the right-wing's most Conservative elements and the continued morphing of the GOP's "Southern Strategy." Should anyone wish to disprove my assessment of the Koch-Cain campaign legacy, I leave you with the following reasonable proofs that must be demonstrated:

That the GOP/TP base now accepts, believes, and supports the complaints of Black men that they are,

a) the unfair victims of racial profiling by police,
b) unfairly targeted for "Driving While Black," and
c) unjustly subjected to "mass incarceration" criminal "justice" policies that have helped destroy their employment prospects, citizenship participation (e.g., voting), families, and communities.

If such proof cannot be credibly provided then it will prove that the crux of Cain's success and support has been based on a self-serving, racial fantasy that has not and will not convert to greater understanding and empathy towards the plight of the majority of Black men in America. In that case, there will continue to be a fair degree of hostility directed towards any source that exposes the dark underbelly of right-wing racial politics.

But beyond attitudes towards Black men, what will be the legacy of the "Brother from another mother's" candidacy on the attitudes of White Conservatives towards their "Black brothers and sisters from another mother," i.e., Black families? For example, what will they say about the recent Pew Research study, which found that the median net worth of White families is now 20 times greater than Black families? I'll suspect they'll first feign concern about this huge gap much like Cain. For example, in his interview with Sean Hannity when he expressed empathy for those having financial hard times, like the thirteen years of it experienced by Ginger White:

"Sean, unfortunately, I'm a softy, and I feel sorry for people when they get in deep financial trouble, especially given this economy and people being out of work."

And then the softy Conservative base will reprise Cain's infamous refrain as they give a "fist bump" and heart felt "shout out" to the "Black families" they've now empathically embraced:


And then they'll respond to the Tweet from Team Herman Cain to: "Please take a moment to encourage Mr. Cain to stay in the race and fight for freedom!" At which point they'll be asked to denote to his "premanent campaign."


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Ron, all I can say is that I am once again involved in the obama campaign in Western North Carolina and as strongly committed to helping him as ever. I am deeply concerned about the extreme right--of whatever race. This man Cain is just another example of right-wingers lacking any semblance of a conscience in the USA today. Thank you for this post.
I will lay odds with you now Ron that Cain is the VP on the GOP ticket and will soon throw his support behind the Magic Mormon, not Tebow he’s not running for office… yet.
@Patrick - that's great to hear you're doing that work. It's time for all hand on deck - been time for a long time. These people have a vision for what they will do to this country and to those who dissent that will make the pepper spraying of the UC Davis students look like a gentle facial.

@Jack - that just might be the negotiation behind the scenes. The right needs somebody who will throw bombs, and Cain's proven he's real good at that. If not him, then Gingrich. Also, watch for Bloomberg on an independent ticket. There's some strange stuff going on out there. I listened to Bloomie's "soul brother," Mort Zuckerman today talk nonsense about how Obama failed to bring together Dems and Repugs in Congress. His Daily News backed Obama in 08 and he's a smart guy. He obviously doesn't believe that nonsense. The Repugs were committed to not letting that happen. So that smells like a rat to me. There's some other strange third party "fronts" out there as well. I'd keep my eye on those goings on as well.
Vote Herman Cain and fight for freedom??? Man, his political media folks are lame-o. Always interesting to hear your take on it. I imagine that his fighting words at his bow-out are as illuminating as that inky substance octopi emit when they're trying to escape. Someone (The Economist?) said his whole campaign was to sell books and get on to a better class of talk show. Sounds about right. One thing The Economist did publish was the headline for his economic policy - Dial 9-9-9 for Nonsense.
Cain told the unemployed that it was their own fault they weren't millionaires. KARMA! It's his own fault he crashed in humiliation. I can't see a VP role for him. Nah, footnote only.
Herman Cain: Trivial Pursuit question of 2014.
I got the feeling that several of the Republican contenders were there only to further a personal agenda...fame, books, more speaking money. Cain is one of them; Gingrich another. But the presidency is a seductive bitch...and people like Cain and Gingrich got caught up in the thrill and chase...and became actual contenders.

Cain is out...he is not going to be the nominee and he will not be second on the ticket.

I cannot imagine what it is like to be black (or partly black) and have to contend with people like Cain or Clarence Thomas, but blindness and thoughtlessness, to their credit, are without prejudice!!!

Good post, Ron. Gonna be fun watching this thing play out.
Like Clarence Thomas, Cain represents the "I got mine, screw you" brand of "compassionate" conservatism. That attitude is offensive enough when it spews from white people who have no idea about the obstacles the disadvantaged face. But it is inexcusable when it spews from the mouths of black men who know better.

No one's against striving to better oneself, but basic math makes it plain that not everyone can be exceptional, yet that delusion continues to permeate the unenlightened self-interest that marks modern conservatism -- which in fact isn't conservative at all. That's why I choose to call such people what they really are -- consumatives.
What haven't the Republicans and other racists not lied about? It does not surprise me that Cain's weird statement had some roots in a bizarre and racist southern tradition, but it automatically made me throw up in my mouth.

He's just creepy and ignorant, that man, especially with the "Uzzz becky becky becky" business. He has the Republican strategy down: do everything wrong or evil, but never ever cop to it.

Well done and R.
I do want people to vote for Herman Cain in the SC primary coming up...I'm sure you are well aware that a vote for Cain is a vote for Steven Colbert. hilarious.

Once again, I am an eager reader of your perspective. Great observation and anaylysis - thanks ~
I do want people to vote for Herman Cain in the SC primary coming up...I'm sure you are well aware that a vote for Cain is a vote for Steven Colbert. hilarious.

Once again, I am an eager reader of your perspective. Great observation and anaylysis - thanks ~
The sad thing in all this is that none of these candidates care about or are connecting with real people. They all talk in platitudes and black and white issues (not racially intended) but they are all full of shit. Cain, as you said, has the most charisma of all the wannabes. He does fulfill that "fantasy" character of the happy Black man satisfied with what he has who has pulled himself up by his own boot straps and denigrates anyone as "lazy" who isn't able to do the same. I don't see him as being chosen as VP for the Rep. ticket. I think it will be McCain, that is, if Romney is the chosen one.
Back in the day he would have been called an oreo because back then there were race men, who wanted to exemplify the very best character as they knew they carried the weight of a race on their shoulders. I was raised by one. Herman lives by another creed and I'm not so sure it's better. He stands alone, benefits alone, and moves ahead alone. He only claims his blackness when there is a way to profit from it. His current title is token negro and if that is what gets him paid it's a title he can live with. I'm sure he'll pop up again soon none of these clowns can stay out of the spotlight for too long. r
I've noticed an interesting pattern here. These same conservatives that are determined to relegate women as disposable reproductive livestock and keep their jackboots on the throats of black men are petrified at two things centering on sex:

1. Black male sexuality
2. Women having the same sexual congress as men

They've also got some real peculiar sexual hangups going on (Rick Santorum wants to ban birth control because it "encourages married people to do things in a sexual realm", David "Diaper Boy" Vitter (R-LA) getting his freak on by having a hooker spank him and change his diaper, etc.).