Why Herman Cain resonates with voters

Jedediah Bila Contributor
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His tea party support is solid and growing. He won the Florida straw poll on September 24, receiving 37% of the vote, more than double that of runner-up Rick Perry. And the latest IBOPE Zogby poll revealed that “Rick Perry has tumbled by more than 20 percentage points over the past month among Republican presidential primary voters and is now second to Herman Cain, who leads the field with 28%.”

Herman Cain possesses two ingredients that are resonating with voters quite powerfully: executive experience and no-nonsense candor. A resume that includes regional vice president of Pillsbury’s Burger King division, president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and president of the National Restaurant Association attracts voters who are tired of politicians with zero business experience lecturing them about free-market economics. But it’s the latter trait — his candor — that I believe has caught voters’ attention more than anything.

I have had the honor of speaking with Herman Cain in person and interviewed him recently. I was impressed on both occasions by his refusal to tell me what he thought I wanted to hear, and to instead simply tell me what he thought. There is a refreshing honesty with which he delivers his message, one that is void of the arrogance and elitist condescension that characterize our current commander-in-chief.

Cain is down-to-earth, approachable and in touch with the values that built this country. His love of the American dream comes from having fought so hard to attain it. His commitment to free-market principles comes from the practical knowledge that those principles are key to building a strong and prosperous business, economy and country. His disgust with D.C. politics has driven him to lead a solutions-based campaign. Whether you agree with his approach or not, one has to give him credit for being unafraid to do something so many in Washington shy away from — toss the rhetoric aside and present an economic plan. Last, but certainly not least, Cain believes in America — and it shows.

What the future holds for Herman Cain with respect to the 2012 election remains to be seen. I, for one, am very glad he jumped into the race and is fighting the good fight. He has taken on Morgan Freeman’s nonsensical rhetoric about tea party racism, challenged President Obama’s class-warfare games and been so bold as to declare that “if you’re not supposed to call the president a liar, he shouldn’t tell a lie.” Cain took on our president’s recent address to the Congressional Black Caucus, in which Obama declared, “I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying.” Cain offered a strong, unifying response: “Growing this economy is what’s foremost on the minds of black Americans, Hispanic Americans, all Americans … Because the unemployment rate for black people is nearly 17 percent, instead of the 9 percent, they’re looking for something that’s going to boost this economy.”

We need more of that in our political leaders on the right — a willingness to call things what they are and to take on President Obama’s rhetoric, a refusal to play politically correct games and a leadership confidence that isn’t born out of pomposity, but out of a proven record of being a successful leader.

At a time when so many Americans are disgusted with politics as usual and political “leaders” who derived their knowledge of economics from free-market-hating leftist academics, Herman Cain brings something unique to the table. Despite his enormous success in the business world, he hasn’t lost sight of the journey he traveled to get there, and appears to be genuinely committed to protecting an America in which many others can make that successful journey too.

In a political climate where politicians’ records are laced with the likes of state mandates, mind-boggling inconsistency, crony capitalism and other not-so-appetizing components, many Americans find themselves looking to someone who doesn’t have years of political experience under his belt.

Instead, Herman Cain has just been living in the real world, like you and me. And that may be his biggest strength of all.

Jedediah Bila is a conservative columnist, television commentator and author of the new book Outnumbered: Chronicles of a Manhattan Conservative. For more information on Jedediah, please visit jedediahbila.com. Follow Jedediah on Twitter.