My Thursday night was quite unexpected, to say the least. I didn’t expect that one of the first events I would attend at the University would be a “College Truth Tour,” hosted by, of all people, former presidential candidate, Herman Cain. Call me ignorant, but what “truth” could Cain possibly expose about higher education? Nonetheless, politics were barely discussed in a night that surpassed ridiculous to sublime.
The Power Center wasn’t even half full, yet somehow an attendance record was set for the tour thus far — which says a lot about Cain’s lasting popularity. I highly doubt there was one Republican in the crowd, except for the chair of the University’s chapter of College Republicans. It was 600 liberal arts students ready to make a mockery out of this event and man. On top of that, the opening band was a group of guys singing Britney Spears’s “Toxic” accompanied by violin. Picture that.
The second Cain took the stage my first reaction was disbelief. Did this guy really run for president? His persona seemed forced. He talked back to the audience whenever someone shouted something outrageous. It felt like I was watching stand-up comedy. But, behind the laughs (and trust me, there were plenty) and the crowd chanting “USA, USA, USA” and “9, 9, 9”, there were parts of his message that resonated.
Cain discussed how the American dream still exists, even in an era of so much economic uncertainty. He stressed the importance of everyone having their own dreams and using goals as stepping stones to reach them. He told the crowd an uplifting story about his father and his own rise to success through jobs in the U.S. Navy, Pillsbury, Burger King, Godfather’s Pizza and even as a radio talk show host. He may have gotten lucky at times, but there’s no questioning that he worked hard to get where he is today.
Although this event was hosted by the College Republicans, it wasn’t particularly partisan. Cain said Washington needs to be changed and it will only happen if the public demands it. That’s something that I can’t disagree with. He also couldn’t help but comment that the demise of his campaign was due to political lies. That one’s up for debate.
Toward the end of his remarks, Cain made it clear through a hilarious rant, that the United States is the greatest country in the world, which deservedly brought the audience to its feet. The lack of partisan politics from a political figure was refreshing and welcomed. He didn’t endorse Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and made no reference to his own views as a Republican. It was all about America, the positives and negatives and the importance of an education.
It doesn’t matter to me that his views don’t necessarily align with mine because the fact is we’re both Americans who have achieved or aim toward success. There’s always some form of common ground with everyone, which is important to keep in mind as we inch toward the presidential election.
When the tour concludes at the end of the year, my guess is that Cain will fall into national obscurity. My hope though, is that his message will live on for a long time. Because what this out-there, crazy guy taught me is that with a college education and a good attitude, there’s still hope.
Derek Wolfe is an LSA freshman.