I recently was compelled to reread my copy of Heritage Foundation Guide to the United States Constitution because I thought I may have missed something in the chapter about Article II and the qualifications for President. Nope- I was right all along. I could not find any clause stating that a President had to have been previously elected to any office. And although it has been rare, most Presidents did previously hold some elected office with the exceptions being military heroes like Andrew Jackson. The last person to do it was another military hero- Dwight Eisenhower.
But does this lack of political or military experience disqualify a candidate? I think that our Founders would think not. Which brings me to Ben Carson. The gist of the argument against him is his lack of political experience that will lead to gaffes along the way that will doom his chances. Most, dare I say, would prefer that that day comes sooner rather than later so that we can move onto the more “serious candidates.” This is nothing short of political snobbery. We can expect that of the Left, but on the Right it demeans conservatism.
And there is little to dislike about Carson. His compelling life story rising from the poor in Detroit to attend Yale and then becoming one of the leading pediatric neurosurgeons in the world is exceptional in and of itself. Yet because of his lack of political experience- that is, serving in elected office- he is easily dismissed before any vote has been cast or debate held. It is really sad when someone comes along and has a check mark next to practically every conservative policy position then is dismissively discarded because he lacks political experience.
This mindset is born of the belief that the primary season is a slog of an effort to thin the herd down to one. Those without the stamina to withstand the microscope of national politics fall by the wayside. But, what can be a better rehearsal for such a “slog” than Carson’s life story?
But, we are again reminded of political reality. In 1992, Ross Perot polled surprisingly close to both Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush only to finish a distant third. In the 1996 Republican primary, outsider Steve Forbes was surging in the polls and closing in on Bob Dole in Iowa only to go down to defeat. In 2012, it was Herman Cain’s turn and he led the polls at roughly this time in the 2012 election cycle. And lest we forget, Donald Trump was a “possibility” at one point in 2012 (ouch!). Does this electoral history and reality dictate a trajectory for Ben Carson? Should it?
Carson rose to notoriety because he did something none of the other potential candidates did- directly challenge Obama to his face. Given the softball questions tossed by the mainstream media at Obama and the sometimes pansy treatment afforded Obama by seasoned Republicans, Carson did one thing no one else has accomplished- actually made the man squirm in his seat in a face-to-face rebuke. In my book, that is good for some points in favor of Ben Carson.
But like others, I am also a realist without being a “dismissist.” Shouldn’t we give Carson an equal opportunity to make his case and showcase his talents, or to become a political failure? Thus far, he has an impressive life story, an accomplished medical career, some great speeches and a lot of charisma to his credit. When it comes to the nitty gritty of politics which involves specific policy proposals, we are just in the formative stages. And that could be an advantage for Carson.
For example, Bush has immigration reform and Common Core albatrosses to shed, Cruz his extremist label, Perry his baggage from 2012, Paul his foreign policy beliefs, etc. For Carson, its his “lack of holding elected office” label. To me, that could be a huge advantage. Considering his charisma, Carson could be an actual outsider from the actual outside rather. In this manner, he could tap into that disenchantment with the elected class among the electorate.
I have no illusions here about Carson’s chances of capturing the GOP nomination. It would truly be a huge event if he did. But for the first time in memory, the Republican Party has a qualified African-American speaking truth to power who is not a buffoon (Michael Steele) or carrying other baggage (Herman Cain). As this election cycle draws on and as Carson has a greater voice, let’s see if he does falter and let’s see how quickly the Leftist hypocrites crawl out of the woodwork and attack him for not “being black.” But most importantly, let’s not tear this man down from within lest we be relegated to list of hypocrites.