Despite the fact that he's has been embroiled in scandal and controversy all week, Herman Cain still leads in the polls. And he's raising loads of money.
How is this possible?
Herman Cain has never held elective office, he struggles to explain his positions on important issues, and he's met with derision from powerful commentators on the left and the right.
Why has he continued to rise?
Perhaps Cain is exactly the sort of candidate we should have expected this election cycle.
For the past several years, the American voter has rebuked the political establishment at almost every opportunity. Republicans were punished in 2006, and again in 2008 -- and this was followed by a swift kick in the teeth for the Democrats in 2009 and 2010.
Along the way we've wrestled with The Combine over candidates like Sharron Angle and Arlen Specter at one end of the spectrum and Marco Rubio and Lisa Murkowski at the other end.
Of all people, perhaps Chris Matthews captured the sentiment best with this bit of commentary a few weeks before the 2010 elections:
I saw the strength of the flames that consumed him and will consume many others this rapidly approaching election night. I have waited all my adult life for an election in which voters have the fire to reach up and burn those who have been running the show for decades. But I didn't know it would come from the right and center.2010 could be the first year in modern times when being in office in Washington and part of Washington is the worst possible credential when facing voters. I don't know how far the fire will burn. Based upon last night's returns, I expect it has a long way to go. It could topple the House and, yes, the U.S. Senate. It could bring the defeat of people who feel even now they are not endangered. It could produce an election night spectacle of name brand politicians standing before stance supporters saying their careers are kaput.Why is this happening? Because this economic system is failing to produce the security and opportunity people have come to expect in this country. In this middle-class country, the middle class are scared and when people are scared, they get angry. They sense a rot at the top and are ready to chop it off.If the plan of those in power to raise a ton of cash and run nasty TV ads saying you can't vote for this new person, that he or she is flawed -- I expect the voter will say, "Are you telling me I have no choice but to vote for you? Are you saying that I, this little voter out there, dare not take a chance on someone who has not yet let me down as you have? If that is what you're telling me, that I have no choice, well, Mr. Big Stuff, you just have to wait -- stay up late election night and see what I have done."
Matthews was right, and it appears that the spirit of 2010 has not yet passed. Our elite politicians and pundits have lost credibility. Americans are marching to the beat of their own drums now.
Whether he wins or loses in the end, Herman Cain is a bellwether for the prevailing anti-establishment attitude.
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