Anyone For Tea?

Anyone For Tea?

Herman Cain Addresses October 14th Dayton Tea Party Rally

By Mark Luedtke

Herman Cain. Photo By Michael T. Barrett

Tuesday, November 2 is fast approaching, and tea partiers have scurrying Democrats in their sights. They’ve already changed the political landscape by defeating establishment Republican candidates in Kentucky, Nevada, Florida, Alaska, and even liberal Delaware. But defeating Republicans in primary
races is a lot easier than winning a general election, and it remains to be seen if the passion and energy of tea partiers can deliver their unconventional candidates
to Washington.

The polls currently show that every Tea Party candidate for national office has an opportunity to win his or her race. The Real Clear Politics poll average has Rand Paul up five points in Kentucky. Sharon Angle is within two points of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada. Marco Rubio is up 10 points in Florida. According to Rasmussen, Christine O’Donnell has rapidly closed the gap in Delaware to nine points.

To whip up energy before Election Day, the Dayton Tea Party has scheduled Tea Party favorite Herman Cain as keynote speaker for its Thursday, October 14 rally on Courthouse Square from 6:30 to 8 p.m. From the announcement on DaytonOhioTeaParty.com: “This is an amazing opportunity for the Dayton region to hear from a dynamic and articulate man who espouses conservative principles,” said Rob Scott, president and founder of the Dayton Tea Party. “Herman Cain is a rock star of the movement. Many view him as a possible candidate for president.” Attendees are encouraged to bring at least one canned good for the Dayton Foodbank.

It’s no wonder Herman Cain is a rock star of the Tea Party movement. Cain, 64, is the businessman credited with turning around Godfather’s Pizza. He currently sits on the board of AGCO Inc, Hallmark Cards and Whirlpool. He’s the author of four books including They Think You’re Stupid, a 2005 book about how arrogant politicians fail to listen to their constituents, alienating them. Tea partiers have taught many establishment Republicans a hard lesson about ignoring their constituents in the last
few months.

Running as a conservative, Cain lost a tight Republican primary race for a Georgia Senate seat in 2004. He’s currently CEO of THE New Voice, Inc., a contributing columnist for North Star National, host of a talk radio show on WSB in Atlanta which is streamed live via his Web site, HermanCain.com, weeknights from 7 to 10 p.m., and he organizes The Intelligent Thinkers movement which has 50,000 members. Dayton residents probably know him best as the frequent substitute host on the Neal Boortz talk radio show.

In a recent interview with Dayton City Paper, Cain said he was attracted to the tea parties because he felt the Obama administration and the Democrat Congress were ignoring the American people, showing “heightened arrogance” by passing bills the people did not want passed. As an example, Cain points to what he calls “health care deform.” He condemns the process used by Democrats to pass Obamacare after the people of Massachusetts elected Republican Scott Brown and overcame the Democrats’ filibuster-proof Senate. They employed reconciliation, a little-used process that’s supposed to be strictly limited to adjusting budget differences between the House and Senate to pass Obamacare against the will of the people. “The President then used the brute force of the presidency to get the House of Representatives to vote on the bill that the Senate passed and made a lot of Democrats walk the plank. The day that the President signed health care legislation, a majority of the people based upon a poll didn’t like it, but he did it anyway.”

Cain also condemns cap and trade, which passed the House but not the Senate, and the unprecedented debt amassed since Obama took office. “The American people have figured out that their agenda isn’t the agenda of the American people. That’s what gave rise to the Tea Party movement. The runaway spending. Total spending irresponsibility. This administration, this Congress and this president are spending this nation into bankruptcy. And they can try as hard as they want to try to continue to blame Bush. No. With this Congress, this administration and this president, they accelerated the digging of the hole.”

Cain explains that George Bush inherited $5.5 trillion in debt from Bill Clinton, and Bush added $4 trillion over eight years. President Obama has added another $4 trillion in 20 months. He calls the Tea Party movement, “We the people waking up, speaking up and stepping up.” He also calls it the “citizens’ movement.” “There are a lot of organizations who are joining in this chorus of voices saying they are sick of the fiscal irresponsibility. They are sick of what they are doing to destroy the free market system in this country with all this government control and takeover. And they are sick of their constitutional liberties being ignored.”

Having spoken at over 30 Tea Party events, Cain knows something about what animates tea partiers and how they’re organized. Cain claims there are over 3,000 separate Tea Party organizations in America, and while they communicate with each other and share common values, they’re all independent. Describing how the Tea Party groups are organized, Cain reports, “Locally. That’s what’s driving the liberals crazy. They can’t find a leader. The national coordinators don’t even call themselves president or leaders. No. Grassroots movement. This is not some big organization that is backed by fat cats.” The left is still looking for a target to attack over the tea parties. The October 15 issue of Rolling Stone printed an article titled “Tea & Crackers” carrying the tagline, “How corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster.” Herman Cain a cracker?

Dayton Tea Party founder Rob Scott agrees. He states the Dayton Tea Party is not affiliated with any other Tea Party organization though they have brought in speakers and held seminars with members of other tea party organizations. When Scott organized Dayton’s first Tea Party for April 15, 2009, he was overwhelmed by the response. The Dayton Police Department informed him that 8,000 attended.

Herman Cain drives home three principles that animate the tea partiers. “The tea party people have three objectives in mind, and it’s not a particular candidate. I’ll keep repeating them. Fiscal responsibility. Let the free market system work the way it’s supposed to work. And recognize our constitutional liberties and stop stepping on our liberties and taking them away.” Illustrating that tea parties are independent, Rob Scott claims there are four pillars of the Tea Party movement. “Support of the free markets and small business. Fiscal responsibility within our government. Smaller government. And respect for the US Constitution.”

But these claimed principles open the Tea Party movement to criticism. For example, if fiscal responsibility is really a driving issue, where were the tea parties while Bush and Republicans added No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, the $300 billion farm bill and $4 trillion to the debt over eight years? Neither Cain nor Scott has a good answer. Both condemn the spending while Bush was in office, but become almost apologetic when explaining why tea parties didn’t form then. Cain explains that Bush had to deal with 9/11 and two wars. Scott isn’t comfortable talking about it. Critics claim Bush wasn’t fiscally responsible, that he heavily regulated the marketplace, that he trampled Fourth Amendment rights, and that he started two unconstitutional wars, but tea partiers sat silently on the sidelines until Obama became President.

But Cain differentiates between Obama’s $4 trillion debt in 20 months versus Bush’s $4 trillion debt over eight years. Like frogs in hot water, the American people stayed in the pot while Bush slowly turned up the heat, but when Obama cranked up the heat too fast, they started jumping out of the pot. Critics respond Obama inherited Bush’s economic crash which created most of that debt. Cain falls back on a common theme of his for another explanation, “The Tea Party movement didn’t show up during the Bush years because during the Bush years, that administration and the Republican Congress didn’t show the political arrogance that’s shown by this administration and Congress. They didn’t pass bills overnight where people didn’t know what was in them. We may not have agreed with some of them, but they didn’t just rush through stuff and assume that the American people were stupid.”

Some critics go further and blame racism because Obama is the first black president. “That’s just ridiculous” is Cain’s fiery response. He was unaware that the head of the Dayton branch of the NAACP had repeated the accusation of the national NAACP that the tea partiers were racist, or he would have more quickly agreed to speak at the upcoming Dayton Tea Party event. Rob Scott answered the local NAACP’s charges:

“The actions of the NAACP are purely false, inflammatory and outrageous. The NAACP going down this road shows their organization is but a mere political tool for the current catastrophic government policies occurring throughout the United States. The Dayton Tea Party’s mission is one that benefits all races.”

But the Tea Party principles mirror the slogans Republicans always use when they’re not in power. Republicans have claimed to support fiscal responsibility, small government, free markets and the Constitution for decades, but whenever they won power, they delivered just the opposite. Critics wonder why this time will be any different. In response, Cain highlights the differences between this movement and past conservative resurgences. He sees greater intensity than in 1980 because the Reagan revolution was driven by optimism while the tea partiers are driven by anger and outrage at the arrogance of Washington politicians. In 1994 Republicans engineered the takeover of the House. The tea parties are a movement of the people, and Cain predicts they will hold Republicans accountable if they get back in power. And he expects the intensity to grow up to the 2012 presidential election.

Cain dismisses claims that Tea Party candidates aren’t fit to hold office as variations on the theme that the Tea Party is too radical. To him, the real radicals are in the White House. “Progressives are socialists on steroids. People want to pick an argument over what is a liberal, what is a progressive, what’s a socialist, what’s a Marxist. I don’t care what you call it. It’s anti-American. All of them are anti-American in terms of how the Founding Fathers set it up.”

Cain confirmed that he is considering a run for president. “I’m prayerfully considering running for president in 2012. Prayerful because I’m a man of faith, and you don’t make a life-changing decision like that without a lot of prayer. I was motivated to even consider it because I, like a lot of people, am so disturbed by the direction that this administration is trying to take this country with the help of this incompetently led Congress.”

He’s investigating three concerns before he makes a decision. First, he’s developing a grassroots organization. Second, he’s investigating if he can raise money for a competitive campaign. Third, Cain is looking for a sign this November that the American people are looking for a problem solver, not another professional politician.

So far Cain is excited at the progress on all three fronts, so anybody interested in listening to a likely 2012 presidential candidate should show up at Courthouse Square on Oct. 14 at 6:30 p.m. with canned goods for the Foodbank.

Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at contactus@daytoncitypaper.com

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