I have to admit that despite my reputation for being a bit of a political junky, I absolutely cannot seem to get myself invested in the 2012 election cycle — yet. That said, little bits of republican debate shenanigans have begun to creep in to my purview and suddenly everyone kept talking about Herman Cain. My news colleagues kept jabbing at me about him being a Morehouse man (I’m a Spelman women) and I assumed he was some type of joke, but as he gains increasing popularity in the polls I decided it was time to find out more about Herman Cain. Read on to find out more about Herman Cain and what his candidacy means for African-Americans.
Herman Cain for Dummies
Written by: Jarrod Loadholt
Where did he come from? A native Atlantan, Morehouse Man and current Georgia native, Cain’s home and his campaign headquarters is in Stockbridge, Georgia. The clownishness of his campaign antics aside, Cain possesses an incredibly impressive resume – former naval engineer, Pillsbury Company senior executive, CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, former chairman of the board of the Kansas City Federal Reserve and president of the National Restaurant Association.
What does he believe? Still an open question. The “issues” section of his campaign website does not venture beyond GOP boilerplate. Surprisingly, Cain is a “moderate” pro-life candidate who supports the availability of abortions in cases where the health of the mother is in jeopardy. Cain has also intimated that he has supported affirmative action, the 2005 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and the bank bailouts.
9-9-9? Cain’s signature tax reform plan has been dismissed by the left and the right as an ill-conceived, regressive, politically infeasible tax increase for the vast majority of Americans (unless they earn over $200,000 a year) with the potential to widen the federal budget deficit. But the plan’s simplicity and boldness are political gold and largely explain Cain’s rising popularity. 9-9-9’s popularity has now forced Governor Perry to propose his own “flat tax” plan and presumptive frontrunner Mitt Romney now appears open to supporting a flat tax.
Can he win? No. Some conservative opinion leaders, major Republican donors and the Rove-Bush establishment wing of the Republican Party all view Romney as best suited to take on President Obama in 2012. Recent polling aside, both Romney and Perry have substantially outraised Cain (though Cain is experiencing an uptick in fundraising), and beyond the early activist-dominated, ultra conservative primary/caucus states, Cain’s electoral success, if any, will not extend beyond the March 6th “Super Tuesday” primaries.
Why is he running? Cain would probably disagree, but it appears that he may be more concerned about building his brand amongst the conservative faithful than he is in trying to defeat President Obama. The lack of any substantial campaign operations in three, key early primary states – Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina – further underscores widely-held skepticism about Cain’s motivations for running.
If Cain’s candidacy had the substantive heft that matched his resume, rhetorical gifts and his retail political skills if for no other reason than that an Obama-Cain race would put on full display the ideological heterogeneity – and the long-standing but largely ignored black conservative intellectual and political tradition – that exists within the African-American community. Whether we are fans of Cain’s or not, win or lose, Cain is likely to become a permanent fixture in American politics for years to come.