By Tera Ertz
I have been a big fan of Herman Cain for a long while now, and I started touting his candidacy on my show when he first formed his exploratory committee. I stood in the grass of Centennial Park in Atlanta with my very non-political daughter on a beautiful day in May of this year as Mr. Cain announced his message of hope for an unwillingly changing America. I just smiled when my daughter leaned over amidst the cheering throng of thousands and said, “I like this guy a lot, I’d vote for him.” I grinned as I surveyed the crowd of young, old, rich, poor, black, white and all the shades in between, Americans who had turned out to hear this man’s amazing message. And I couldn’t help but laugh when he smiled and told us that together we could show the world what America was made of, and has been since the days of the Revolution. I, of course, came home to news of Mr. Cain’s problem as a candidate for the GOP nomination. And no, it wasn’t that he’s a black man running in the mean, racist Republican primary. It was that he’s never held public office, and he’s somehow “unelectable.” I shook my head in pity at the ignorance of my fellow citizens and prayed that the God who so providentially blessed this nation at its founding and who has led us through so many years of trials and tribulations would show these folks just how wrong they were. Because, it isn’t the man, it’s the message, and the message was American exceptionalism to its core. It was every bit of the best of Reagan, Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln (and probably a number of others) all rolled into one. Okay, so maybe I was feeling a little giddy and star struck, but you get the picture.
Mr. Cain continued on his rise through sheer hard work and perseverance. In poll after poll by Gallup, one of the only companies that tracks enthusiasm and name recognition along with who’s ahead overall, Mr. Cain kept coming in low in name recognition, but off the charts in voter intensity, with a rise in both numbers. Bachmann was the only one who came close to the kind of voter enthusiasm Mr. Cain enjoyed, and everyone knew who she was. And finally, with only 51% of the Republican electorate knowing who he was, last week Mr. Cain swept the Florida Straw poll, and pulled ahead or even with Romney and Perry across several poll. And yet, the idea of his “unelectability” persists. As Daniel Henniger put it in his Wall Street Journal piece, and others have quoted as well, “I like Herman Cain, but he’s not electable.” This word has persisted across multiple elections, particularly within the Republican Party. John McCain was the only candidate in 2008 that was electable, supposedly. We all know how well that worked out for us. So, as this word continues to be bandied about by the punditry and the less politically addicted among my fellow conservatives, I decided to amble along to dictionary.com to see exactly what the elusive electability would entail.
capable of, or having a reasonable chance of, being elected, as to public office.
Well, perhaps I need to check my Constitution, but I’m pretty sure Mr. Cain is capable of being elected to office. Heck, not to go all Birther on anyone here, but there are still questions regarding false social security numbers for the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, so eligibility certainly isn’t a problem for Mr. Cain. The current occupant had a hidden and questionable work history, launched his political career in the home of a known terrorist and attended church for twenty years with a preacher who consistently condemned his country, even going so far as to damn it. He has since presided over what has been arguably the worst economy since Jimmy Carter (and longer in many respects), and increase in instability around the world and a loss of the US AAA credit rating for the first time in history. Apparently the criteria for having a reasonable chance of being elected to public office are pretty loose these days. And we can certainly see from his very long and successful resume that Mr. Cain is capable of pretty much anything he sets his mind to. So, again, I wondered what made this stellar example of the triumph of American values somehow unelectable. Perhaps it was not the general election that was the concern but the more immediate primary contest.
Hmm. Mr. Romney was the original front runner, but his biggest accomplishment to date was RomneyCare, the precursor and blueprint for Obamacare, obviously a bit problematic for more than half the electorate in the general, and an even greater share of those likely to vote in the Republican primary. Mr. Pawlenty dropped out early after throwing enough dirt at Mrs. Bachmann to bring down her poll numbers dramatically. Mrs. Bachmann has a lot of flash, but seemingly not enough staying power and is a far more polarizing figure than her fellow contestants. Mr. Paul consistently pulls between 5-10% of the vote, never more, never less. Mr. Huntsman and Mr. Johnson, when they manage to blip onto the radar of the primary voters, both hold views contradictory to the traditional primary voters in the GOP in different but key areas. Mr. Gingrich, for all his intelligence and interesting ideas, has spent the last several years touting a bi-partisan, middle of the road approach to such important issues as immigration and global warming. Even with his dramatic shift to more conservative rhetoric, his past performance in his last year as Speaker and this more recent seeming betrayal of conservative values makes him a less than appealing choice to an electorate discouraged with the deception of DC.
And last, but not least, the Texas governor with the really great hair. I must admit that I have nothing against Mr. Perry for the most part. I think he’s done a fairly decent job of explaining some really tough decisions he had to make as governor of Texas, and I think he’s done a stellar job of keeping his state’s economy rolling along while the rest of the country was struggling. That being said, he’s got some problems on immigration, which will be an extraordinarily difficult sell to the primary voters when comparisons are made to the DREAM Act being pushed by Democrats in DC. He made the unforgivable gaffe of calling his fellow conservatives heartless when he got called on his policy of providing in-state tuition to illegal aliens. And quite simply, he doesn’t have a unified message and vision for what he plans to do for the country as the President. In other words, he may look pretty, and talk kinda pretty, but many voters see him as the same old, same old politician that got us into this mess in the first place. Which brings us to Mr. Cain.
I won’t go into Mr. Cain’s many qualifications. There are those out there who are far less star struck that have gone to a great deal of trouble to do the research on the man. But, what I do want to get at is this. In a general election where you don’t know who the other candidate will be, or you know the two candidates messages will be similar enough to make the contest close, things like electability might matter, although I must question that given the recent past. But, in a primary election, the entire point is to pick the absolute BEST person for the job, and then work on convincing the majority of the rest of the electorate that your guy is better than the other guy.
This country is suffering because it needed a leader and instead got a community organizer. It needed a problem solver and instead got an agitator. It needed someone to take responsibility, instead it got a man only interested in laying blame. And we’ve suffered. My friends, we’ve suffered enough. Isn’t it time we found the leader we’re looking for, the man with the message of the hope that lies at the very core of American values and American traditions to contrast with the hopeless mess of “hope and change?” Above and beyond the amazing list of accomplishments on his resume, Mr. Cain has the one true quality this country needs, the same one that allowed George Washington to navigate the tricky birth of this nation, that allowed Lincoln to bring together a torn and broken nation, that allowed Reagan to unleash the chains on this country and topple the USSR without firing a single shot. Mr. Cain has faith, first in God, and next in his fellow countrymen to live up to the ideals that have made us great for more than two centuries, and he has the smiling, unflinching guts to tout that faith to the world. I’d say that makes him eminently electable, both in the primary and the general. Perhaps the pundits had something else in mind?
5. a. chosen or choice; selected or elite
I doubt very much that the pundits would consider Mr. Cain among the chosen, or that the elite would consider him among their numbers. But, for me, I’ll pick the guy who loves my country as much as I do. I hope you will to. Until the contest is over, Learn the Lingo, and be wary the wielders of words.