As some economists and critics debate the merits of the Herman Cain 9-9-9 tax plan, with some saying the solution is not as simple is scrapping the tax code in favor of such a straight-line formula, many Republican voters see it differently. It's a major reason why Cain, of Atlanta, has surged to the top of at least one recent poll besting former front-runners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.
Romney, of course, joins the critics in suggesting that Cain's plan is too simplistic. While Cain harps upon the necessity of throwing out the extensive U.S. tax code to go with his 9-9-9 plan which would eliminate all taxes in favor of a nine percent income tax, a nine percent corporate tax and a new nine percent national sales tax, Romney promotes his 59-point economic plan as Cain keeps gaining momentum in polls.
Some, like Romney, don't seem to understand this simplistic power that Cain is developing with the voters -- sending him to the top of the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that placed him in the lead with 27 percent support compared to Romney at 23 percent and Perry at 16 percent.
But all we have to do to understand why Cain's simple message is resonating while Romney's is not is to look at history, and take a cue from another well-known Southerner -- the late author William Faulkner. Well known for his complex writing style that pushed readers from around the world to understand and grapple with the social views and structure including racism, Faulkner was at one time a writer of a much simpler tone.
He was a Hollywood screenwriter, and his first novels were written in a more mainstream commercial voice. But the genius of Faulkner, who lived in North Mississippi in an era of racial oppression, was his ability to understand that society as a whole in the 1940s and 1950s, particularly those who lived around him, were seeing the world as too black-and-white.
And not just in terms of race. The society at that time rarely considered complexity, it was either this way or that way -- black and white. So Faulkner exposed the world to complex subjects like racism and how one neighbor viewed another through some of the most complex writing the world had arguably seen. It was just the right voice for just the right times.
Faulkner won a Nobel Prize, even though many didn't understand it at the time.
Now consider Cain, who has boiled America's economic problem down to his simple plan -- 9-9-9. Some say it is a solution. Some say it is a slogan. The reality is that it's both, a solution and a slogan. We'll not debate the merits of the plan here. That's for others. But we will look at why Cain's message has sent him to the top of at least one major GOP presidential race poll.
The world we live in today is no longer black and white like it was before. It's complicated. What happens in Washington stays in Washington -- most U.S. citizens barely understand, as Cain says, the many pages of complicated legislation. They just know the system is not working. It's not that they can't understand it. Most can.
It's just that there's so much, and it's so interwoven and involved, that it would take months to dig in and really get a grasp. Also, society today is simply overwhelmed by that gray matter that pervades in this non-stop digital world. Americans are in constant contact, and many, if they are working, are doing jobs that two and three people once did.
There are text messages and e-mails and information at every turn. The economy is bad, and people are hurting and they are being told from every direction why this is so and what can be done about it. But few have articulated this in a simple and clear manner becoming of the times.
The lives for many Americans have become too complex. They need a simple and clear voice. They need a simple and clear solution -- the exact opposite of how it was in Faulkner's day, so many decades ago. Herman Cain seems to understand this. It's why he's surging in the polls, even as some critics dismiss his plan for America's future.