Amid the excitement of GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott’s selecting state Rep. Jennifer Carroll as his running mate, it is useful to ask this question: Who is the current lieutenant governor of Florida?
You get the point.
The lieutenant governor is generally not well known and does little by way of meaningful activities such as helping to shape and implement policy. As happens in the selection of a vice presidential candidate, it is largely a ceremonial post that is required, in case the governor cannot carry out his or her duties. The choice usually is based on how many votes it will attract.
In picking a black woman for his ticket, Mr. Scott’s intention is to seduce black voters with her selection and siphon off support from the Democratic candidate, Ms. Alex Sink, to divide the black community. It may work, to a point.
The advancement of any African American to a position of prominence is a welcomed development but that in itself is not enough. Unless the person so elevated can take to the position the life experiences of African Americans, the elevation is no more than window dressing.
It is not a question of whether the person is, as some would put it, “black enough.” Rather, it is a question of whether blackness means more than skin color.
The Republican party has a past that was very friendly to African Americans but the current edition is far from that history.
At the same time, it is fair to ask why Ms. Sink did not think it useful to name a black to her ticket. The reason?
Probably because the Democratic party has for long taken the black vote for granted and she probably believes she does not need to make a dramatic overture to African Americans as Mr. Scott has done.
Criticism of the Republican party must, therefore, not be seen as automatic endorsement of the Democratic party. African Americans, like all other Americans, have interests that they want to be heeded. Their support will go to whoever embraces those interests as their own.
Whatever his motive, Mr. Scott has upstaged his Democratic opponent in this regard. It will be instructive to see how she responds.
Photo: Jennifer Carroll