Lawrence O'Donnell's interview of Herman Cain last week illustrates one of the major differences between liberals and conservatives (of the paleo variety). The Left sees all of life as being essentially political. There is not a problem in the world that can not and should not be addressed politically. O'Donnell found fault with Cain for abiding by the advice of his father to "keep his nose clean" by avoiding the civil rights marches and sit-ins in the 1960s. Instead, Cain diligently applied himself to his studies to earn a B. A. in mathematics in 1968 from Morehouse College and then a master's degree in computer science from Purdue in 1971 while working full time in ballistics for the U.S. Department of the Navy. And of course he went on to have a very successful career in business. In doing so, he "saved" and created far more j0bs (for people of all colors) than the current administration could ever hope to do.
“Mr. Cain, in fact you were in college from 1963 to 1967, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, exactly when the most important demonstrations and protests were going on. You could easily, as a student at Morehouse have actively participated in the kinds of protests that got African-Americans the rights they enjoy today. You watched from that perspective at Morehouse when you were not participating in those processes…black college students from around the country and white college students from around the country come to the South and be murdered fighting for the right of African-Americans. Do you regret sitting on those sidelines at that time?”
Sitting on the sidelines? The assumption is blatantly obvious. For Mr. O'Donnell, as for Leftists generally, the only solutions to the ills of society are political solutions--often in response to the agitations of street protesters.
Herman Cain chose a different path. Although he encountered plenty of discrimination growing up, he didn't complain that life was unfair and that Jim Crow kept him down. He didn't appeal to the government to help him succeed. He understood that life is bigger than politics and there are other ways to go about improving one's lot in life. He went about his work with such diligence and such a degree of excellence that he made himself indispensable to those who were looking for the skills he possessed...and he was richly rewarded for it. He is a self-made man. This is one of reasons--perhaps the biggest reason--for his dramatic rise in the polls. He embodies the old virtues of diligence, thrift, hard work, and self-reliance, leading to prosperity, versus the whining entitlement mentality of the Left.
Cain's success should come as no surprise. Similar success will come to anyone willing to put forth the same kind of effort. This is the way of a free market economy. In a competitive environment racial discrimination makes no sense. It's self-defeating. Cain's uber competence made him a man in demand. It's what enabled him to scale the corporate ladder. In so doing, he paved the way for other black businessmen, since he undoubtedly busted the racial stereo-types of any racists he may have encountered along the way. Thus, he was waging his own battle against racial discrimination. Perhaps it wasn't as flashy as Mr. O'Donnell would have liked. Perhaps it didn't garner as many headlines as the sit-ins and marches. But one does have to wonder if, in the long run, his way will not be shown to have been far more effective.