Herman Cain speaks to small crowd on capitalism, socialism

by Kyle Mullins | 5/10/19 2:00am

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Cain spoke to a small audience yesterday about his thoughts on the difference between capitalism and socialism.

by Elsa Ericksen / The Dartmouth

Herman Cain, a businessman, former chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, gave a sparsely-attended talk about economics on Thursday evening to roughly 25 students and community members. 

In the talk, which was sponsored by the Young America’s Foundation and the Dartmouth College Republicans and titled “Capitalism vs. Socialism: The Battle to Save the American Dream,” Cain attacked “creeping socialism” and warned that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), are advocating policies similar to those that led to economic collapse in Venezuela.

College Republicans outgoing chairman Josh Kauderer ’19 introduced Cain, saying that he was there to “deflate the myth that is democratic socialism.” He walked the audience through Cain’s business experience, expressed a desire for a “marketplace of ideas” and said that Cain’s newest radio show, “The Herman Cain Show,” gets nearly a half million listens per episode.  

Cain began his talk by imploring conservatives to make their voices heard, saying that he “dares” those who disagree with him to “silence” him.

“Don’t be silenced,” he told the audience. “Then you’re playing into their hands.”

He attacked the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate field, saying that every candidate has “at least one” socialist idea. Cain also said there is “no such thing” as democratic socialism, calling it “communism-lite.”

“Once you start infusing socialist ideas little by little, you have what’s called the creep effect,” Cain said, adding that countries that currently follow socialist policies suffered a “death of a thousand cuts.”

He did not shy away from openly mocking prominent Democrats, at one point speaking in a high, squeaky voice to poke fun at Ocasio-Cortez’s signature “Green New Deal” proposal and saying that she had “too many names.” 

Cain used the blackboards in the classroom to create acronyms for capitalism, which he said stood for “Competition, Aspirations, Performance, Ideas, [Low] Taxes, Attention to detail, Laws, Initiative, Strategy [and] Money,” and socialism, which he said stood for “State controls everything, Ownership discouraged, Complacency, Individuals don’t matter, Assets seized, Lies, Inefficient, Socialism sucks [and] Misery for all.”

He emphasized the economic benefits of capitalism while explaining the acronyms, stating that capitalism leads to lower prices, rewards performance and incentivizes the creation of ideas. 

“In a capitalistic system, you can dream big, because if you dream big, you can pursue big things,” Cain said. “You don’t have the government trying to tell you, ‘Well, go ahead and dream big, but we’re going to take it away from you.’” 

He cited the nationalization of the oil company Citgo in Venezuela as an example of a government seizing assets, incorrectly claiming that former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez took over the corporation. Citgo was nationalized in 1976, 15 years before Chavez came to power.

Before walking the audience through the socialism acronym, Cain said that he didn’t mind if “this next section [offended] somebody.”

“When people get offended when you try to tell them the truth, they are trying to silence you,” Cain said. 

When he reached the “Lies” letter of the socialism acronym, Cain commented on U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee chairman Jerry Nadler’s (D-NY) efforts to subpoena the unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 election. 

“Legally, [Attorney General William Barr] cannot give a totally redacted document to Congress or he will have broken the law,” Cain said. “And now, Jerry Nadler is calling it a constitutional crisis — because the attorney general will not break the law! … That is a lie.”

Cain credited his success in business to capitalism and his own hard work. Cain vehemently dismissed any suggestion that he faced discrimination on account of his race, declaring that “in the corporate world, your performance is more important than your color or your gender.”

“But that is not what the media wants you to believe,” Cain said.

Concluding the talk, Cain told the students in the audience to ensure that they have a “dream.”

“You’re going to have some zigs, you’re going to have some zags, you’re going to have some setbacks, but if you’ve got a dream, you know where you’re headed,” Cain said. 

During the question-and-answer session, Cain was asked why democratic socialism seemed to be on the rise in the United States and among members of the Democratic party. He responded by pulling “TruthCards” — index cards that contained a variety of economic statistics and conservative talking points — out of his jacket pocket and stated that “they can’t refute the facts” as members of the College Republicans passed out the cards to the audience. 

Cain was asked by Joseph Chavez ’20 whether infrastructure projects like highways, dams and water pipes are “socialist.” He responded that “it’s not a socialist idea if everybody benefits equally.” 

The problem, Cain said, was that some people “mislead the public.”

“Now they’re promoting ‘health care is a fundamental right,’” Cain said. “No, it’s not. Is a Cadillac in every garage a fundamental right?”

Chavez said that he enjoyed the event, saying that it was “refreshing” to hear ideas from someone with a different political philosophy than his own. 

Jeff Rounsaville, a resident of Grantham, NH, said that he appreciated Cain’s emphasis on the idea that “[socialism] has never worked.”

“Pretty much down the line, everything that [Cain] said were things that I think are true,” Rounsaville said.

Incoming chairman of the College Republicans Daniel Bring ’21 said that the event was inspirational and energetic. 

“That’s always something we like to experience,” he said.