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Raising Cain

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One Man’s Fight for Individual Freedom.

Harry CainSenator Harry P. Cain of Washington defied the norm. Once seen as one of his state’s fastest-rising political stars, Cain’s personal convictions never allowed him to be comfortable in either political party for very long. Instead, he remained true to one paramount goal – supporting the rights of the individual.

Only thirty-four in 1940 when he was first elected mayor of Tacoma, Cain’s unpredictable and sometimes contradictory politics followed him to the U.S. Senate, the Subversive Activities Control Board during the Eisenhower Administration, and finally, even to the Miami-Dade County Commission in his adopted Florida.

In Raising Cain: The Life and Politics of Senator Harry P. Cain, C. Mark Smith takes us behind the apparent contradictions to reveal the core of Cain’s conservative-libertarian philosophy and his deeply held view that unless we are willing to fight to protect the rights of each American, the freedoms of all Americans are at risk. Nothing ever swayed Cain from that view. He stood nearly alone in opposing the internment of Japanese American citizens during World War II. He was an early supporter of voting rights for residents of Washington, DC. He worked for civil rights and community diversity in Miami. And in the controversy that ultimately destroyed his public career, Cain defied both his party and his president to fight for the civil liberties of thousands of Americans whose loyalty was questioned during the McCarthy era.

Raising Cain is both inspiring and thought-provoking. At one level, it profiles the life and politics of a fascinating and complicated man during a pivotal period of American history. On another, it raises questions for today’s citizens and policy makers. Despite the passage of years, Cain’s warning rings as true today as it did in 1955: “We can be safe and free at . . . the same time, but it is possible to become so safe that nobody can be free.”