This past weekend was a difficult weekend for me and for tens of thousand of other Herman Cain supporters. As a long-time supporter of Mr. Cain’s presidential campaign, it was painful to watch how his journey ended on Saturday.
I was a vocal supporter of the Cain campaign on my frequent “Red Eye” appearances, I have written at length about his campaign here and in other outlets, and I personally donated to the Cain campaign. I was a passenger riding the proverbial Cain Train since he was little more than an asterisk in this race.
I remained a Cain supporter until the end because for me this race has always been about the message — not just the messenger. None of the allegations that surfaced over the last few weeks changed the message of his campaign one bit.
That message was a simple one: Washington is broken and it is the politicians — of all ideological and partisan stripes — who are responsible for it. If we were truly going to change Washington, we needed a candidate who would break from the conventional mold, someone who would challenge politics as usual at every turn and was offering bold solutions and big changes — not just change on the margins.
The tea party was a revolt against politics as usual. It was as much a revolt against the excesses of Republican politicians as it was a revolt against Democratic politicians. The tea party put Republican elected officials on notice that we — the base of the GOP — were not taking it anymore. Since the tea party led the GOP to historic wins in November of 2010, Hill Republicans, particularly House Republicans, are behaving in an uncharacteristic fashion. They are holding the line on spending, refusing to agree to raise taxes at all, and working in earnest to rein in the size of government. These politicians didn’t suddenly get religion. They didn’t find political Jesus, they found fear — fear of the tea party. The truth is that the only thing that stands between Republicans on the Hill going back to the bad old days of the Bush-era GOP is fear of a backlash from the tea party.
The 2012 Republican presidential primary process must be one that strengthens the tea party and reminds establishment Republicans that we are unwilling to sit back and watch the politicians in Washington sacrifice our core values.
Now former Cain supporters like myself are left to find another candidate and another campaign that can carry that tea party message. While many candidates will be asking for a second look from former Cain supporters, I believe there is one candidate who deserves a first look. I strongly believe that former Cain supporters, tea party activists, and limited government conservatives should consider the campaign of former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.