Diary

What's Behind the Continual Appeal of Ben Carson?

To many on the Left, Ben Carson remains an enigma.  Most of the attention on the “outsider” candidates focuses on two other people for different reasons.  With Donald Trump, it is his personality and ego and over-the-top statements.  Almost self-describing himself as the anti-PC candidate, his rhetoric could be rude and his tone nasty.  That appeals to some people who dress it up as, “He represents the fact that we are upset and frustrated with _____ (insert “immigration,” “political correctness,” etc.).”  He’s a plain, blunt talker who shoots from the hip.  The other outsider on the GOP side is Carly Fiorina who is winning converts not by making outrageous comments and using Twitter to belittle detractors, but through a principled, reasoned and intelligent dialogue.  That is equally refreshing in today’s world of scripted sound bites.

Then there is Ben Carson somewhere in between.  When looking at the Left’s continued criticism of him, they usually point out his accomplishments as a pediatric neurosurgeon as if suggesting he should have stayed in that occupation and never uttered a political word.  But, there is also an uglier side to their analysis of Ben Carson and it is nothing sort of racist.

Despite his upbringing in a lower class neighborhood of Detroit, Carson went on to bigger and better things.  There starts the Left’s criticism: surely a young black person in Detroit should act and talk more “black.”  Carson breaks that stereotype of the inner city black urban-dweller drifting into Left wing politics.  In essence, Ben Carson is, to the Left, not so much “black” as he is something else.

We have seen this underlying prejudice and stereotyping from the Left with another prominent black person- Clarence Thomas.  Thomas also worked his way up from poverty to become a Supreme Court Justice.  Like Carson, he likely benefited from affirmative action somewhere along the line.  And as a beneficiary of affirmative action, they- not talking heads on the Left- are uniquely qualified to discern the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of affirmative action.  They bring a unique perspective to the conversation.

What is more disturbing to the Left is that they are African-Americans who point the finger at black America for their ills and basically argue for personal responsibility rather than blame.  For example, commentators on some Leftist websites totally dismiss Carson’s statements about Ferguson and Baltimore and simply buy into the lines fed to them by groups like #BlackLivesMatter.  It is the easier solution to the problem- blame someone else: a racist society, racist police departments, etc.  Its a knee-jerk reaction on the Left even before the facts of anything are known.

And it is a racist belief.  When you cut through the bull of their rhetoric, it boils down to the fact that Carson does not talk “black” and does not think “black.”  How does their version of groupthink regarding the black community solve anything other than capitulation to their worldview?

Ben Carson remains relatively “high” in the polls as far as ranking goes which gets him onto the main debate stage.  But, let’s put this in perspective.  At about 5-10%, that is really not that much support or endorsement.  When push comes to shove, Ben Carson will not be the Republican nominee for president in 2016.  That does not mean that he cannot be an important voice in conservative or Republican politics in the near or distant future.

No one questions the sincerity of his conservative beliefs.  Sometimes the beliefs, when expressed, come off as misunderstood by the listener, especially if the listener is from the Left.  They do not understand that a flat tax does, in fact, have something to do with the Biblical notion of tithing.  Being secular and anti-religious, the Left dismisses the idea and criticizes it in language they understand- “it is not progressive taxation,” “it adversely impacts the lower income (minority) person,” etc.

And perhaps the Leftist characterizations and analysis of Carson is what is fueling his consistency in the polls.  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction and that reaction is the support Carson gets from conservative voters.  The more the Left portrays Carson as a kook, the more the Right circles the wagon to support and protect their own.  Carson’s poll rankings and numbers largely reflect the attacks from the Left.

There are likely many equally sincere voters who believe that Ben Carson is the conservative answer and viable presidential candidate.  But by the same token, intellect must dictate that the odds of him winning the nomination are very long and even longer in a general election against Clinton.  In that regard, Carson plays an important role- take the punches from the Left while more viable and realistic candidates do their thing.  The slurs and criticisms Carson endures will be a thing of the past and the Left will turn their guns on someone else.  This is not to denigrate those sincere supporters of Carson.  Although this writer cannot see Carson in the White House, I can see him in a Republican administration where his talents as a doctor and someone aware of the problems in the health care area could do greater good for America.  One needs to admire his steadfastness in the face of incredible odds and attacks from the Left.  Like any neophyte politician, he will make gaffes and come under scrutiny or have his words taken out of context.