Cain He Do It?

The latest CBS News poll has Herman Cain atop the GOP presidential field. Cain has soared in recent weeks, building on his victory in the Florida straw poll and picking up conservative support after Texas governor Rick Perry’s self-inflicted wounds on the debate stage.  Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is treading water as he’s done throughout the last year. Cain’s rise shows how fluid the race remains: just a fortnight ago, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza was an also-ran candidate. Now he’s a top-tier contender.

The media say Cain’s the flavor of the month. Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry all enjoyed that status at sometime this year before falling back in the polls. This view gained currency after Sarah Palin used those words to describe Cain’s rise last week on Fox News.

Cain handled questions about this situation brilliantly. He used comedy, showed off his personality and diffused the situation with a chuckle. He called himself “black walnut ice cream,” and said his flavor has staying power because its substance-Cain’s message and his 9-9-9 plan-appeals to voters.

Americans have gravitated to Cain’s straight talk. But the candidate’s bluntness has gotten him into trouble from time to time: recently while appearing with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Cain said African-Americans were “brainwashed” into voting for Democrats and for rejecting conservative arguments. He doubled down on that assertion yesterday on “The View.”

The media, predictably, went apoplectic. Dewayne Wickham uses his USA Today column to examine Cain’s statement and concludes that the Herminator was more interested in appealing to white voters- shielding them from charges of racism- than in appealing to a nascent force in the GOP primary electorate-black voters.

Here’s Wickham’s key point:

By pinning the overwhelming support blacks give Democratic presidential candidates on some Svengali-like, forced manipulation of their minds, Cain relieves GOP conservatives of any responsibility for chasing the majority of black voters out of the party of Abraham Lincoln.

By blaming black mindlessness for this flight, Cain ignores the race-baiting “Southern strategy” that virtually every Republican presidential candidate since Richard Nixon has used as a wedge issue to win the backing of Southern whites. By suggesting that most black voters are herded to the polls like sheep by liberal Democrats, he leaves no need for the GOP to explain why blacks, who have a strong conservative streak, have largely abandoned the Republican Party.

Wickham goes on to suggest that Republicans are an intolerant party. Cain’s appeal “immunize(s)” the base from being labeled racist and pushes conservatives’ intolerant policies under the rug.

Denigrating conservatives as racist is the media’s standard operating procedure. Republicans are callous towards brown people and poor people, this theory goes. Liberals use this point to balkanize voters along racial, ethnic and class lines. Opinion writers often spread this view in their column, as Wickham did Tuesday.

In fact, conservatives actually want a color-blind society where the individual is judged on his own merit. They reject the victimhood narrative liberals spread; they also point out the nightmarish results which came from benevolent liberal policies, designed to alleviate the plight of minorities.

Most of these policies were signed into law under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon-federal aid to education, expanded welfare (a byproduct of the War on Poverty), urban renewal and affirmative action. This legislation actually hindered the economic advancement of most African Americans. That’s the dirty secret you’ll never hear from a Democrat.

David Mamet offers the conservative critique of  what he calls “The Good Idea” in his recent book The Secret Knowledge (p 15): “See…the grand visions of Urban Planning, which destroyed the Black Neighborhood, Welfare, which destroyed the Black Family, and Affirmative Action, which is destroying Black Youth.”

Why would conservatives propose more of these initiatives in an effort to win black votes? History and empirical evidence show expanding these programs will lead to more poverty, more social disintegration and more misery.

Government plans, as F.A. Hayek put it sixty-five years ago, fail because a free society lacks the means to design or plan an affluent society. Experts lack the knowledge to adequately address and correct social problems. Instead, bureaucrats will exacerbate existing social problems with their attempts to “help the downtrodden.”

What should we do instead? Embrace the free market and the price system. Milton Friedman told us why: “ there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.”

Herman Cain is an unabashed free marketer. That’s why conservatives love him and why his message has resonated with primary voters. Cain has won their hearts; now can he win their heads?

Conservatives applaud Cain’s personal story. When they look at him, they say: Look at what he’s done. That’s wonderful. He’s a living example of the American Dream.

Cain’s success is a by-product of America’s free enterprise system, which allows for upward mobility. A person can start with nothing and wind up rich beyond his wildest imagination. That is what makes capitalism such a revolutionary force in human history. Leftists should know: Karl Marx made this observation over a century ago.

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