Al Greene’s victory in South Carolina has puzzled everyone - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. When I first heard of the victory of the unemployed veteran, I immediately remarked to my wife that name recognition of the Rev. Al Greene had been a factor. More specifically, it reminded me of a1992 comedy starring Eddie Murphy entitled, “The Distinguished Gentleman.” The movie featured a black con man named Thomas Jefferson Johnson who decided to shorten his name to Jeff Johnson in order to purposely confuse voters into thinking he was a dead congressman.
In a world in which people often imitate movies, some hapless voters were actually taken in by the name alone. These same voters admitted to national reporters that they thought they were voting for the famous gospel singer. To my father’s generation, who fought for the right of minorities to vote, they would have seen this approach as irresponsible or squandering a “sacred right.” Nonetheless, most voters come to primaries fired up and informed about only a handful of races.
Al Greene did not promote himself through the expected campaign activity of public appearances or campaign speeches. Yet, this “nobody” won South Carolina’s Democratic Party nomination for the US Senate easily. So who is Al Greene really? Most of us have discovered that he is a novice at politics and is currently an unemployed veteran. He also has a very disturbing pornography charge that has been written about ad nauseum.
The Democratic Party is embarrassed by Greene’s victory. There are at least two excuses for Greene’s win. One group is convinced that Republicans have engineered this “hoax.” The problem is that Jim Deminth (the Republican incumbant) is probably unbeatable by anyone in the Democratic political stable. Therefore, it is illogical that the Republicans would take such a huge risk at this time.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.