Herman Cain's Commentary Archive 2009-2012

October 31, 2011

I confound the ‘experts,’ but why would I do it their way?

My continued strong performance in the presidential polls has the media, pundits and political strategists confounded, because I am not running my campaign in the way they say I am supposed to.

Newsflash: I’m not going to start now.

Having said that, I think it’s worth considering how the media and the talking heads assess candidates for the highest office in the land, and the criteria they use for deciding who is a serious candidate and who is supposed to be perceived as some sort of fringe figure.

Although I am leading in the national polls and have practically run the table on the recent straw polls, the pundits and the political consultants say I don’t have a chance because I’m not doing it their way. They don’t like the fact that I’m spending time in states like Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama instead of living in Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s just not done! They are beside themselves because I supposedly don’t have a large enough staff. (They actually have no idea what the size of my staff is, but that doesn’t stop them from talking about it.)

And the way they flyspeck my campaign ads, you’d think they were advertising consultants critiquing a bunch of Super Bowl commercials. Just about every professional political consultant in America had a conniption fit over my recent ad featuring my chief of staff, Mark Block. (You know . . . the “smoking man” ad.) That ad has now had more than one million views on YouTube, and that doesn’t even include those who saw it on The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity. And since it began circulating, I’ve risen in the polls. My name ID has risen from 21 percent in August to 79 percent now.

So imagine what a fool I feel like for not listening to the so-called experts and marching in lockstep with the conventional wisdom.

I have said from the beginning that we would run an unconventional campaign. That’s not only because I’m an unconventional candidate. It’s also because I don’t much like what the conventional approach has gotten us over the years.

The candidates who have won by listening to the nation’s renowned political strategists have produced a $14 trillion national debt and nearly $60 trillion in unfunded entitlement obligations. They have to be dragged kicking and screaming into “deficit reduction” measures that don’t even put a dent in the deficit. They presided over a meltdown of the mortgage market and they allowed ObamaCare to become law.

And I’m a fringe figure because I don’t do things like they do? Got it.

There’s a reason this has happened. Conventional political strategy is, by nature, cynical. Political strategists show you how to position yourself for victory by taking the path of least resistance, and by jumping on opponents for “gaffes” and other trivia that has nothing to do with how a person would govern if elected. The conventional path to victory is essentially to avoid any and all risk, and never to give anyone a reason to criticize you. The problem with winning that way is that you usually end up governing that way too. That’s why big problems never get solved, because big solutions put officeholders at risk of political consequences, and their strategists tell them that’s trouble.

The reason I’m still leading in the polls is that the people are figuring this out. They’re coming to understand that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. They’re deciding to make message more important than money, and that’s going to make the voice of the people more powerful than the voice of the media, the pundits and the strategists.

If you were running for president, and you were getting that kind of reaction from the voters, would you suddenly abandon your strategy and start doing it the conventional way? I didn’t think so. Neither will I.

Besides, I might know a thing or two that they don’t. My management experience just might tell me how to get more out of a leaner staff than your typical campaign. My early efforts in Iowa just might have put us in a strong enough position to maintain support there while we spend time in other states. The latest Des Moines Register poll certainly seems to suggest as much.

But what really matters here is that it is not my objective to gain the approval of the media, pundits or political strategists. I am not trying to impress them. My objective is to win the confidence of the American people so I can implement solutions to problems that others have been too unwilling, or too incapable, to implement.

And if I’m confounding them now by the way I’m campaigning, just wait until they see how I’m going to govern.