Herman Cain was my friend.
Herman collected people. If you found your way into his world, you became part of his collection. There may be those who have had longer relationships with Herman, or more personal relationships or closer relationships, but if Herman took an interest in you, he made you feel as though you were as important to him as anyone else in his life.
My first encounter with Herman occurred in 2009 when he was a substitute radio host for Neal Boortz on his nationally syndicated radio show. Herman was especially interested in healthcare reform, with some crediting him with torpedoing Hillarycare during a scathing rebuke in a 1993 forum held by President Clinton. During the national Obamacare debate, Herman often devoted entire shows to this issue. As the founder of a national advocacy group, Docs 4 Patient Care, I found myself drawn into these on air discussions. I became known to Herman as Dr. Hal, a name that stuck with me since that first phone call. I became a regular caller whenever he was on air and Herman often relied upon me for the kind of “inside baseball” information on healthcare issues, that a practicing physician with healthcare policy interests could provide.
When Herman became a presidential candidate during the 2012 campaign, it was my great honor to support him. Docs 4 Patient Care brought together hundreds of doctors and Herman came to address our group, exhorting us to fight for our patients and for our profession. He connected with us and understood how government control of healthcare would hurt patients and destroy American healthcare, which Herman as a survivor of stage 4 colon cancer, openly acknowledged was the best in the world.
During the 2012 campaign, when Herman was ascending in the polls, he was the victim of unsubstantiated claims of inappropriate behavior dating back to his days as the CEO of the National Restaurant Association. Rather than put his family through a painful process, he withdrew from the race and went back to broadcasting and political commentary.
Herman took over Neal Boortz’s show as a full time host and we continued discussing healthcare on air and off. Docs 4 Patient Care became a leading influence in the Direct Primary Care movement and Herman was completely behind this model of healthcare delivery. To him, it epitomized the kind of healthcare freedom that he always believed Americans were entitled to. He returned to speak at one of our large annual meetings in 2018 to a group of doctors who had left traditional medical practices and instead delivered care directly to patients for an affordable monthly fee.
Herman loved to learn about all of the innovative and entrepreneurial efforts that were taking place in healthcare. To him, this is what made American healthcare great. He was very optimistic about the future of healthcare provided that government just got out of the way. He believed that doctors- not government, or private equity or hospitals knew how to do healthcare the best. He loved all of the deregulation that President Trump had pushed for and why he supported him in 2016 and why he was a leader of the Black Voices for Trump coalition in 2020.
Herman was an American success story. He excelled in everything that he did. His resume is extraordinary. He was a successful businessman, the president of a national trade association, a member of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Board, a successful radio and TV personality, a political pundit, and a successful presidential candidate who withdrew to spare his family embarrassment. He was the worst nightmare to the political Left - a Black American who was able to succeed in everything that he attempted to do and who refused to be a victim. He was a contradiction to the narrative that America was a racist country. Herman accomplished so much and he did it with good will towards all, with humor, wit, optimism and a strong faith in God and family. He should be held out as a role model on how to attain the American dream.
It is ironic that Herman passed away on the same day that another great Black American was laid to rest- John Lewis. These two men were both accomplished in their own right , having taken very different paths, but who both commanded respect and admiration from all who had known them both. Congressman Lewis blamed society for holding back people of color. Herman Cain flat out rejected that. He believed that anything is possible in America with the right attitude, desire and work ethic. It is tragic that the media does not treat Herman Cain with the same reverence as John Lewis.
Herman Cain was a national treasure and he will be missed. I wish that there would be someone who can fill this huge void that he has left, but I strongly doubt it. God really did break the mold when he created Herman Cain.
Herman Cain was my friend, and I will miss him dearly.