Monday, December 19, 2011

How Herman Cain Almost Became President

Herman Cain is no longer a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. I have mixed feelings about this personally. First, as a normal, rational human being and a man of my word, I’m relatively thankful. I pledged some time ago that if Herman Cain got into office, I was going to immediately emigrate to some other nation. I even went so far as to say that being jobless and homeless in some other first world country would be equal to or greater than living here with a job under Herman Cain’s steady guidance. Yes, I realize how ridiculous that statement is. Let’s not dwell on that, or on how myopic that really makes me look. Instead, let’s attempt to answer a question that no doubt many of us have asked ourselves over and over again: how did Herman Cain get so popular?
First and foremost, let’s address the fact that Herman Cain is indeed a black man. His conservative stances don’t negate that, despite what some commenters on various blogs would have you believe. I’m pretty sure when “they” are out lynching black people, “they” don’t stop to ask the lynchee’s opinion on the government’s fiscal responsibility, or whether or not a woman has the right to an abortion. (For the record “they” is the unnamed force which apparently still exists and lynches people. Ask Clarence Thomas for more details. I think I’m being sarcastic with that, it’s getting hard to tell) At any rate, the main demographic that Herman Cain had to cater to might have seen their parents or uncles or even older siblings spit on or speak derisively of Herman Cain and “his” kind (again to clarify, I’m talking about black people) at some point in time. So how did he suddenly manage to get them all to rally their support around him, even after the first and second allegations of sexual harassment emerged?

I have a theory, and of course, I’ll be sharing it here.
What’s the best part of waking up? Most of you can finish that sentence by saying it’s “Folgers in your cup”. What spells relief? R-O-L-A-I-D-S. Tyson’s feeding you, like family, especially if you feel like Chicken tonight. Otherwise, you may find yourself eating a bowl of Nut-N-Honey. These are all slogans that stick with us, even years after the products themselves disappear. You can’t even buy a bowl of Nut-N-Honey, I looked. All I got were really strange looks and one weird offer from a guy in van behind the supermarket. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that the generation that Herman Cain targeted grew up even more inundated with slogans than my generation. Our mothers, fathers, uncles and aunts all grew up with slogans. Slogans that may not have really told you anything about the product (what exactly are Folger’s flavor crystals) but either because of saturation or just sheer catchiness, kept those products in the front of your mind when it came time to make a purchasing decision.

Fast forward to Herman Cain and his 9-9-9 plan. How many of us really understood what that was about at first? Did he even bother to explain it in detail? Only after I sat down and did a thorough internet search did I find a legitimate analysis of the dangers of the 9-9-9 plan and what it would do to the poor and middle class in our country. Even then, there were people speaking up about the plan, but the general attack on Herman Cain was never his financial plan to save America from its debt crisis, or his COMPLETE lack of inexperience. Why? Because no one ever looked into his plan. It was a slogan. A jingle. Is the best part of waking up really Folger’s in your cup? Does Tyson really feed you like family? Do you feel like Chicken Tonight? No. In each of the slogan’s cases, we never really question the assertions made by ads, simply because they’re ads. Herman Cain was almost magically able to hide his ineptitude behind an ad, behind his slogan that was simple and easy for everyone to remember. The other plans were complicated and involved taxing this percentile this percentage unless they were this and that and the other. Herman Cain’s simple and easily remembered plan rang true with a lot of the core demographic of the GOP, and so they hopped on board. And for several glorious months, Herm could do no wrong. It was amazing. One of the most ill-conceived campaign advertisements I have ever seen was released (one that I personally think Herman Cain released to derail his own campaign) and people loved it. He and his advisors chose one of the cheapest Casio produced songs I have ever seen as his campaign music, full of synths and slow patriotic style singing and still the older constituency of the GOP rolled with it. And why? I theorize it was because he had a slogan, and his slogan was catchy and it was simple.

As we move deeper in the 21st century the role that adverts and jingles played has greatly diminished thanks to DVR, TiVo and streaming digital media. Now we watch our television largely commercial free, and we enjoy our music in much the same way. The generation growing up now will never know the magic that is a good jingle. Which may actually be a good thing.

And for those who think the 9-9-9 plan wasn’t all bad, I would like to point out this one fact. Herman Cain thought that to best way to shield the impoverished from his plan was to create “zones” where impoverished people who lived there would exempt from the income tax. Essentially, he wanted to group all the poor people together in an area, and then make it financially impossible for them to leave that zone or area unless they substantially increased their income. Thanks, Herm.

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