I know you political junkies are on the edge of your seats now that Dr. Ben Carson has said he will likely run for president. I have been waiting to see what Black folks will do when President Obama leaves office. Well, we are about to find out now, aren’t we? Can you imagine a race between Carson and Hillary? Black voters won’t know whether they are pitching or catching if that happens. I can’t wait!
What will the commentators say? What will the current political insiders talk about? If the prospect of having the ‘first’ Black president was great in 2008, I would think the prospect of having the ‘second’ would be just as fantastic, right? “Not so fast,” some of you are saying. “Carson is Black, but he is a staunch conservative. We can’t vote for him.” That would be the hue and cry from so-called liberal Black folks. On the other hand, to vote for a White woman over a Black man, for some Black voters would also be a big dilemma.
The possibilities are endless with this one, folks. To which candidate do you think Black people would give the majority of their votes? Can you envision Obama supporters, who thought it was so important to elect a Black person to the highest office in the world, saying in 2015-16 that it’s a bad idea this time around? The debates will be very interesting. All of a sudden politics is getting my attention. I am stocking up on popcorn now.
Carson dissed Obama at that prayer breakfast, you know. He is also the darling of Fox News commentators, who eventually said, “nein, nein, nein” to Herman Cain. Carson also rails against Obamacare and initiatives put forth by the president and, if Carson is nominated, there will be a pit-bull fight in 2016. How will Black people justify their votes this time? Hillary and Wall Street or Carson and Wall Street? Hillary and no reparations or Carson and no reparations?
How will Black folks fare economically under a Ben Carson administration as opposed to a Hillary Clinton administration? Carson is a free market guy, and Hillary has no problem with free market either. Carson made his millions after pulling himself up from nothing, and Hillary says she and Bill were dead broke when they left the White House. In fact, during their time in Arkansas they had no home other than the governor’s mansion. Talk about Horatio Alger stories; this is really going to be good. They can debate on whose situation was worse, and we can cast our votes for the winner.
Black people have been so ensconced in having the first Black president that for many, it’s really going to be sad to see Barack Obama leave. Politically, he is all they have. What will Peggy Joseph do about putting gas in her car and paying her mortgage, as she said when he was elected? (See You Tube) What will Al Sharpton do? I guess he could get close to Hillary if she wins, but you know Carson will have nothing to do with him.
If Carson wins MSNBC and Fox News will trade places by changing their conversations about the president. MSNBC will constantly rail against Carson, and Fox will simply celebrate Carson as their messiah this time. Ain’t politics great!?
On a more serious note, elections have consequences. After six years of President Obama in office, Black people are assessing our progress under his leadership. Some say he has done well, and others say he has done very little on behalf of Black people. The fact remains that he will exit his position in two years. What are we going to do, after reaching the ultimate symbolic high and staying there for two terms? As Peter said to Jesus, “To whom shall we go?”
Have we invested too much emotion in Obama’s presidency and not enough substantive content? Whether it’s Ben Carson or another Republican, or whether Hillary, the odds-on favorite, moves into the White House in two years, we must decide where we will go and how we will get there. In my opinion, we have wasted six years of political positioning by not carrying our demands to Obama the way other groups did when he was elected.
Our political dilemma has never been the lack of a Black president. It has been and continues to be our lack of political involvement beyond voting, our failure to build political power based on an economic power base, and our reliance of political symbolism over political substance. Our political dilemma should move us to appropriate action; we must plan now for whoever moves into the White House in 2016.
(Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his website .)