Herman Cain came of age in the heat of the civil rights movement, but unlike many of his politically conscious peers at the predominantly black Morehouse College, he largely ignored it. “I wasn’t determined to make social change,” Cain tells the Wall Street Journal. “I wanted to earn some change … I wanted to make some money.” Cain says he was “totally apolitical” throughout his youth, focused entirely on making money, and improving his station.
When asked what did get him into politics, Cain gave a confusing answer: He said that at 16 he discovered that he’d need to earn $10,000 a year to get an American Express card, “and I remember thinking to myself, ‘One day, I want to make $20,000 a year.” Later he explained his actual political awakening: He says he was angered by a minimum wage hike in 1988, which would harm Godfather’s Pizza, and by a 1994 tax increase that hit his bracket. “It was just a sneak-a-tax. It only affected people of a certain category,” he says. “That's why I became a conservative.”