Witte: Herman Cain policies spell danger


Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain makes a speech during the Republican debate on Saturday, Oct. 22, in Des Moines. 

Jacob Witte

There seems to be a new frontrunner in the race for the Republican nomination for president, and that man is Herman Cain. Cain took the lead in many polls after what seems like the fiftieth Republican debate (is anyone keeping track anymore?) and seems to have the momentary spotlight shining brightly on him. He was even at the ISU football game this weekend, showing support for Iowa State before the caucus comes around.

His popular 9-9-9 tax policy, which sounds strangely familiar to a pizza delivery pricing scheme, is taking the GOP base by storm. Many are touting him to be the man to bring down Obama in 2012. But it seems to me that Republicans are forgetting a major fact that was their main attack against Obama in 2008: His involvement in politics and public activities before running for president is zero. None. He has not spent one day in a political office, nor has he ever been an elected official. And I do not count being voted into a CEO position by a board of directors as an “elected official.”

Republicans across the gamut in 2008 were up in arms about having a Presidential candidate with little experience in public office, but the fact that Herman Cain, one of their own, has none seems to matter not this time around. The fact that Obama was a state senator from Illinois and a U.S. senator before his presidential run withstanding, Obama’s entry into politics, and community organizing, is still in the proverbial crosshairs of the GOP to this day. But what is community organizing?

All politics is local, as Tip O’Neill once said, and community organizing is about as local as one can get to being active in politics. Being politically active in one’s community is the very essence of the foundations of being political, and allows us to break free from the constraints of the private realm.

Organizing demonstrations against unfair lending practices, speaking out against local real estate agencies and the practice of “red-lining,” or just rallying to get members of city council elected can all be difficult experiences, but so goes the practice of politics. As John F. Kennedy, a fellow president that did not have a lengthy public service career before entering office, once said, “Winning a ward fight … is the same as winning a presidential fight.”

And now, the Republican voting base, in favoring Cain, who is notable as being CEO of Godfather’s Pizza chain, wants his business-oriented mind to change the government into just that: being run like a business. However, there is something fundamentally wrong with that presumption. The American scheme of government was never supposed to be run like a business.

Government is supposed to protect its citizens of the many malicious practices of corporations, not aid in that process. When the economy goes into a recession, and millions of people are laid off, government protects those people by providing unemployment insurance to keep the economy going. When oil companies are degrading the landscape and poisoning the earth, government (is supposed to) regulate via the Environmental Protection Agency and prevent pollution of this type.

Herman Cain is troubling for these reasons, that he not only has no experience in any political office, but he wants to treat government as a business. His stance on the Occupy Wall Street is also perplexing to say the least, as he stated that people who are jobless only have themselves to blame. So I guess the fact that 15 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed are to blame for their current situation, not the documented fact that Wall Street, while unleashing rapacious greed and fraudulent business practices torpedoing the global economy, caused these people to lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

Herman Cain is not an exception — he is merely, as Michele Bachmann put it, the “flavor of the week” for the GOP. This current mindset of Republicans that “government should be run like a business” should be put to rest. Government has been doing that for long enough now, and like in an unfettered corporation, the wealth inequality in this country is staggering enough that the current levels have not seen since the late 1920s. And we all know what happened then.