Herman Cain has revealed an embarrassing truth about his politics which is that he lacks even superficial knowledge about the world outside of U.S. borders. When he said that China is a threat to the U.S. because it is developing nuclear weapons and later retracted his statement with a new statement saying China doesn’t have a nuclear capability close to that of the U.S., he not only undercut his original assertion, but he displays an ignorance that poses a danger to Americans and the world at large if he came to power.
Leadership selection is the most important job the citizens of a nation must do in a democracy; otherwise we might as well continue with monarchies. It is particularly important for Americans to select a great leader since the United States is the strongest and wealthiest nation in the world. Whoever runs this country exerts great influence not only over the fortunes of its citizens but over the billions of people who inhabit the earth. The U.S. Presidency then must be occupied by someone who has a firm grasp of a wide variety of issues that are of national importance. If the President lacks that knowledge, then the President can be unduly influenced by his/her advisors who may take advantage of an ignorant President. A President must be knowledgeable and competent enough to see all sides to an issue; otherwise the President is merely a puppet to be manipulated by unelected people behind the scenes.
While some may argue that Cain–or any presidential candidate–cannot be expected to know everything under the sun, a presidential candidate should have at least a basic knowledge of history, economics, foreign policy, politics, and the sciences. That China has possessed nuclear weapons for decades is general knowledge; we are not asking Cain to be a rocket scientist. It is thus highly disturbing that someone who lacks general knowledge thinks he deserves the most powerful job in the country. China would never entertain the idea of putting someone who lacks knowledge and experience in the most important position in the world. That position ought to go to someone who has proven his/her competence in domestic and world affairs. Perhaps the U.S. should also demand such competence from its leaders.