Presidential Qualifications: What are They and Do They Matter?

By Allison Schoenauer

Elm Staff Writer

In the first article I wrote for The Elm, I mentioned several candidates that students should be looking out for.  At the time, I had left out a candidate who had some buzz behind him, mostly as a joke during “The Colbert Report,” but seemed like too far of a long-shot to be taken seriously.

Like any good surprise in life, I was proven wrong.

Herman Cain, a businessman and banker from Georgia who is best known for his position as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, a pizza chain you have probably never heard of, officially entered the Republican race in May.  Between May and last week, no one really gave him much thought, even though he ranked higher than Governors Rick Perry of Texas and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts in the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll and had been doing very well in the debates since the very beginning.

Now, Cain has become the second most popular Republican running, beaten only by Gov. Romney.  He even outranks former Tea Party-favorite Gov. Perry.  So what makes Cain so popular?

Cain has a very attractive conservative history.  Born to a traditional, hard-working, poor family in Atlanta, Ga., Cain applied himself to his education. After graduation, held several high-ranking positions in several fast food and restaurant chains, including Burger King.  He brought Godfather’s Pizza back from bankruptcy before becoming the President of the National Restaurant Association.

So Cain has a successful business career.  Does he have a successful political career?  Not exactly.  Cain has never held office, but he has been politically active, successfully campaigning as his conservative political values. His most notable campaigns were against Bill Clinton’s 1993 Health Care Reform Bill, his Hermanator Intelligent Thinkers Movement—the aim of which was to rouse at least 100,000 conservative political activists in every congressional district, and he was the senior economic advisor to the Dole/Kemp campaign in 1996.

So Cain has had some successful and unsuccessful romps into the political sphere. He seems to be a strong economist and a very personable guy. One of his features is that he can take complicated concepts and simplify them to a large audience.  It doesn’t always work, though, to be a businessman and economist who likes to simplify very complicated systems like the economy.

The best example of this is Cain’s “9-9-9 Plan”.

The “9-9-9 Plan,” named after its feature of a nine percent flat tax on household income, business income and national sales tax, is the second step of a three-step process to overhaul the Federal Tax Code. That should throw up a red flag—Cain thinks that he can redesign a nation’s Federal Tax Code three times in four to eight years.  One plan to overhaul a bureaucratic system would take a decade, if everyone in the Senate and House plays nice. How long is three going to take?

Also, the plan is hypocritical and can be damaging to a great majority of tax payers. The plan will eliminate a payroll tax and the earned-income tax. This is supposed to give impoverished families more money so that they can better support themselves.  Impoverished families, however, already get tax breaks and refunds from the government to soften the blow of regular taxation.  Those breaks will be removed in the restructured system and the “9-9-9 Plan” will force upon these families, who normally spend what little money they have on food and clothing, to pay more taxes than they do now.

So could Herman Cain ever be President?  No, not at all.  He over-simplifies and doesn’t have the experience in politics (or winning campaigns) to actually win a presidential campaign.  If he ever made it into the executive branch, it would most likely be as the Vice President: prestigious, but harmless.

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