While few things in politics are certain, one thing that has held true over the past several decades is that African Americans will vote Democratic.
And while African Americans’ relationship with Democrats has become highly publicized marriage, a rising chorus of African American liberals and independents are quick to highlight Democrats’ exploitation of the Black voter, campaigning to the concerns of the community only to forsake the things that matter to African Americans once they are in office.
This is one of the major gripes African Americans have with current president Barack Obama, who despite having attracted 96 percent of the Black vote in the last election, seems to be losing support from many in the community unsatisfied with his first term.
This backlash of sorts has led many to demand a Republican alternative. This backlash is exactly why Herman Cain, despite not being a Democrat, became popular. But Cain was still largely a status quo candidate.
For African American looking for an alternative to the current administration, while also avoiding handing their vote over to the same as usual Republican field, the question remains: Why not Ron Paul?
African Americans have been conditioned to accept the two-party rule that has become of America’s political system; Paul represents a splintering of the old guard.
Since assuming office in 1997, Paul, the Congressman from Texas’s 14th congressional district, has become popular for his Libertarian ideals, often differing from both Republican and Democratic Party stances.
The New York Times described Paul as “the kind of conservative that Tea Partiers want to believe themselves to be: Deeply principled, impressively consistent, a foe of big government in nearly all its forms (the Department of Defense very much included), a man of ideas rather than of party.”
And yet the latest Iowa polls show Newt Gingrich leading by a mere point at 22 to 21 percent respectively.
Undoubtedly, the Republican label attached to Paul and his campaign scares many African Americans, who have for generations voted Democratic, but by no means is he a traditional conservative.
Instead, many of his most liberal stances have been buried by Republicans who label him to radical and by Democrats who in most instances have acted virtually identical to their Republican counterparts.
Why not Paul, when, in many instances, Paul’s voting record and political leanings have been more progressive and in-line with Black America’s than Barack Obama’s. For instance, when Paul a free-market evangelist and staunch opponent of corporate welfare railed against the hundreds of billions in bailout money big business received in the wake of financial crisis.
In a 2008 interview on CNN’s “Late Edition” Paul told Wolf Blizter:
“Well, I think that’s a mistake because we don’t have the money. But that doesn’t mean you have to do nothing. I mean, we could reform the system. We could return to sound money. We could balance our budget. We could change our foreign policy. We could take care of our people at home. We could lower taxes.
There’s a lot of things that we can do. But the worst thing that we can do is perpetuate the bad policies that gave us this trouble in the first place, and that is that we no longer, over the last quite a few decades, believed in free-market capitalism.”
Obama, on the other hand, signed off on lofty tax incentives on top of the billions to bail Wall Street out of the mess they created. All this while Black unemployment and the gap between rich and poor has risen to levels never before experienced.
Why not Paul, when he has continuously stood in against his conservative brethren on controversial topics like calling for a reduction in U.S. military spending and against the expansion of U.S. military.
Why not Paul, when he’s been one of the most vocal opponents of America’s continued support for the War on Drugs, an issue that many say is destroying black America.
“The War on Drugs is a total failure,” Paul told time magazine. “It’s created a monster of a problem for us.”
And while many an African American activist and political theorist have highlighted the problems with the U.S. military spending and the War on Drugs, most politicians have been flat out afraid to be labeled soft of defense and drugs.
Still, Paul stands in contrast to many Americans, and more specifically African Americans’ archetype of a classic presidential candidate.
An unimposing, straight talking, fringe candidate, Paul lacks the flair of a Bill Clinton. And of course, he’s not black like Obama. Instead, he comes across as New York Times described him — “all bone and sinew and nervous energy – an Ichabod Crane or a Jack Sprat, hunched and herky-jerky in too-large suits.”
This “lack of swag” has impact, especially to many African American voters who, though while coming out to cast their ballot during presidential elections, are largely detached from politics and often times vote for the name they know.
At the same time, Black voters familiar with Paul’s record note a few shining moments that, perhaps, forever soil his relationship with African American.
For instance, in 2007 while appearing on “Meet the Press,” Paul told then-host Tim Russert that while he would have probably marched with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King during the civil right movement, he would have voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, believing it actually worked to diminish individual liberty.
Libertarians hold individual freedoms as the central, most important principle of their political philosophy, but few African Americans would agree that the passing of the Civil Rights act was a step in the wrong director.
In 2008, news that Paul is an overt racist began circulating after The New Republic published a series of newsletters allegedly written by Paul in the late 1990s which include rants against the Israeli lobby, gays, AIDS victims and Martin Luther King Jr.
A newsletter from June 1992, following the LA riots, says “order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.”
Another reads, “The criminals who terrorize our cities — in riots and on every non-riot day — are not exclusively young black males, but they largely are. As children, they are trained to hate whites, to believe that white oppression is responsible for all black ills, to ‘fight the power,’ to steal and loot as much money from the white enemy as possible.”
Paul denies ever writing the racist newsletters, but it’s still unclear if he’s being upfront or masking a political past when support from the Black community did not affect whether he would be elected or not.
When it comes to running for President, Paul can’t escape the Black vote. So whether he wrote the newsletters or not, to admit to such racist remarks would be political suicide.
Unlike 2008, Barack Obama is no shoe-in for the presidency. Instead, various lesser-known, virtually obscure politicians have risen to the top to challenge him for the top spot. And as it appears, Ron Paul, the Republican more progressive than mainstream Democrats is increasingly rising as a popular alternative.
The question is: Should Black America, with all its influence, give a damn?