By Guillermo Vallejo
This week’s GOP Presidential Debate showed what happens when a candidate offers a bold vision without comprising core values. All the candidates zeroed in on Herman Cain and his 9-9-9 economic plan. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, Herman Cain has surged in the polls. The reasons for this upswing in his poll numbers can be traced to several factors: Rick Perry’s embarrassing fight with the English language, Bachman’s obsession with HPV vaccines and Mitt Romney, well, Romney being himself. The truth is that the real reason for Cain’s rise has been the man himself.
The American Presidency has known many types of personalities. Our nation has been led by men of great intellect, leadership and integrity. They have also been led by men of ambition, petulance and paranoia. However, recently the Presidency has been the home of a certain type of leader: the professional politician. Our Republic was founded by individuals who knew that democracy works best when its elected officials are motivated by the desire to preserve and protect our constitutional guarantees. Men and women who serve out of a sense of duty and not out of a desire for prestige or power.
Herman Cain has had a long career outside of government. He has private sector experience and has led successful businesses. Judging by the comments leveled at him during the debate, you would think he was naïve and out of touch. The truth is Herman Cain represents the politician as envisioned by the founders; an individual who feels that he has been called to serve. It is not an honor, but rather a sacrifice. His 9-9-9 plan is simple and that is why people are flocking to him.
Our government has become bloated and gorged on a steady buffet of over-regulation, over-legislation and bureaucratic machinations. Our fiscal crisis is a result of this reality. Instead of trying to work within this broken system, we need to turn a new leaf. You cannot solve our nation’s ills by finding a solution that will work with our current system. Our current system is the problem. I’m not saying it will be easy or that it won’t cause some short-term shock, but it will help restore our nation and its confidence. Maybe what we need is a little “shock-therapy” to reset our institutions.
Herman Cain is not perfect, but his debate performances and interviews have proved him to be tenacious and a straight-shooter. I believe the time has come for Americans to be spoken to as adults and not patronized as children by our leaders. Hard truths must be told and old myths dispelled. I do not know what this election season will bring, but at the very least Herman Cain has succeeded in elevating the level of honesty in our national discourse. He has talked openly and honestly and the establishment cannot seem to make heads or tails of it. Perhaps the American people will finally reward courage and conviction instead of polished rhetoric and political opportunism.
Guillermo Vallejo works on Capitol Hill for a Florida Member of Congress. He is originally from Miami, Florida and holds a Masters Degree in Democracy and Governance from Georgetown University. The views expressed herein are his own and provided in a personal capacity, not tied to his work in the U.S. Government.