The race for the United States presidency is on. As of Jan. 4, the results of the Republican presidential primary are in. The Iowa Caucus has concluded and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney edged out Sen. Rick Santorum by eight votes.

According to Iowa poll data, Romney got 30,015 (24.6 percent) votes and Santorum received 30,007 (24.5 percent), Ron Paul 26,219 (21.4 percent), Newt Gingrich 16,251 (13.3 percent) and Rick Perry 12,604 (10.3 percent).

According to reliable news organizations such as Politico, each vote cost Romney $113 and Santorum $1.65. This means that even in the current economy slump, this will be one of the most expensive presidential campaigns to date. According to OpenSecrets.org, in 2008, John McCain raised $370 million and Barack Obama raised $750 million.

The late Dr. Ronald Walters would ask, “What does this mean for Black people?” Iowa’s population is 2.1 percent African American. Notwithstanding groups like the Black Republican Association and the Black American Political Action Committee (BAMPAC), less than 12 percent of Black people traditionally vote Republican.

According to the 2010 US Census Bureau, African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the total 308 million people in America.

With the implosion of Herman Cain’s campaign, an important question is raised: Who will articulate the interest of the African-American community from within and external to the Republican campaigns?

With immediate January primaries underway the African-American percentage of state populations tells a story of numerical influence; On Jan 10, New Hampshire .7 percent African American; South Carolina, Jan. 21, 28.9 percent African Americans; Jan. 31, Florida, with 14 percent African Americans. This is the time to put pressure on the political environment in America.

External to the Republican campaigns, we — you and I — must email, text, tweet, Facebook and call our people in these states and encourage them to be engaged in the conversations and debates shaping the ideal agenda for these candidates. Do not let Republican presidential candidates off the hook by being silent or absent from their debate. We know that when the people speak from the heart and mind, from their experiences and desires, honest communication, that is not to be ignored, can occur. We also know that traditionally our elected officials, political advocates and pastors communicate the issues we face. We must influence the influencers, and demand that our concerns are addressed in the debates and in policy formation. Now they should direct their microphone, radio and television messages toward the candidates and political organizers. We must do this or the results will not be in our best interest. To paraphrase the Congressional Black Caucus’ motto: “There are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies … Just Permanent Interest!”

Taking a closer look at the origins and nature of the views Santorum, we see he claims to be concerned for working families after being influenced by the death of his grandfather, who worked until age 72 in Pennsylvania coal mines. According to his campaign website, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990 at the age of 32, and from 1995 to 2007, served in the US Senate.

He touts that he “helped author and was floor manager of the landmark Welfare Reform Act which passed in 1996 that has empowered millions of Americans to leave the welfare rolls and enter the workforce.” His now infamous statement, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them someone else’s money. I want to give them an opportunity to go out and earn their own money, and to provide for themselves and their family. And the best way to do that is to get the manufacturing sector of the economy rolling again,” provides a glimpse into the heart and mind of this candidate. He recently stated, “that he would go to the NAACP and urge Blacks to demand paychecks not food stamps.” Are they unaware of the fact that African Americans have been seeking a equitable paycheck for their labor, jobs with a livable wage and justice since arriving on America’s shores, before the Emancipation Proclamation and every day since.

Is Mitt Romney more attuned to the voice and message of the African-American community? To what degree did he engage African Americans as governor of Massachusetts? It is a well-documented fact among religious leaders that there is a schism between African Americans and the Mormon church, which openly discriminated against them until 1975. Where religion and politics divide, presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s politics are the true question for the political arena.

In short, regardless of the front runner status of the particular Republican presidential nominees, one thing is clear, “our permanent interest” are to be articulated by us, for us and with the complexity of us in mind. The public discourse should be influenced by us as well.

Dennis B. Rogers, PhD is a graduate of the Howard University, Department of Political Science where he majored in political theory and Black politics. He resides in Washington, DC and can be reached at www.DennisBRogers.info or email dennis.rogers.phd@gmail.com.