Saturday, December 31, 2011

Politics and Paul

     A "Pan-African" is an individual that enthusiastically identifies as black. Cain isn't one. But, when he was accused of being a sex pervert, he quickly reverted to a kind of folksy, and rather more Afro-centric, speech. He may not be Pan-African but he did sound more populist.
     But he does not seem to be a populist, either. He is about business. OK, then, what in tarnation is he? And what is up wit' da folksy speech patterns, ever so conveniently placed on the tongue? Cain sounds to me like a man in the practice of putting on the hat that is convenient. (See NYRB for the story of his high school music career which may, or may not, be relevant to our narrative.)
     Obama did this. He started out talking more like an elitist. THen he changed it, and picked up a lot more votes -- simply by playing it more folksier. A few vocal inflections made all the difference. Come to think of it, Paul Lawrence Dunbar used vernacular in the 1890s! A Pan-African is someone who is really committed to something: he is black; he is definitively not white. Playing on one's race for policical expediency is a cheap gimmick. This seems the essential gimmick, a very subtle, embedded way they both play on race to get elected. Obama is the Harvard man. He may have more credentials for being a leader. He is obviously more cosmopolitan. Despite that, it would seem to be the case that there are gimmicks, in both cases. What that shows is a certain shallowness.
     Of all the candidates, the most genuine of the candidates seems like Ron Paul. Everyone else is phony compared to him. So, Paul has the genuineness. That's undeniable. The man is not a fake. He sits there believing in something; and on those core beliefs he doesn't falter.

(Slightly re-written post-Shari's comment)


  1. I wonder though. Are they gimmicks or just ways to make people listen? As a woman, I find that I sometimes have to say things differently than my male counterparts because people EXPECT me to say them differently. Did Obama and Cain talk to different audiences differently so they would hear them? In France, I could communicate better if I used a french accent with my American words because French people were comfortable with french accents. Is this similar?

  2. Well, I am not sure a candidate should deceive his own people. Sometimes, such a move is definitely benign, as in the case of a negro poet using vernacular, which has been used and overused, but it represents a whole body of bygone poetry, such as Dunbar's. (I did a paper in high school - progressive high school)
    So the question --- it is benign for a political candidate to do that? I have a very low tolerance, being a neurologically "purist" autistic individual.

  3. Your purist perspective is priceless though it makes those who find it easy to fit into society uncomfortable. Have the ability to fit in well compromises the ability to see clearly.