Dr. Ben Carson’s recent campaign staff changes have caused the political pundits and media to gleefully opine that this is the end of the good doctor’s candidacy.
“Any time a campaign starts going the wrong way, there is always internal dissent and especially so when the candidate is an outsider and a first-timer,” said Edward J. Rollins, who co-managed Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential bid and Ronald Reagan’s 1984 reelection.
Rollins painted a bleak picture of Carson’s path ahead: “At this point, I think his candidacy is finished. He has money but his staffers are gone and nothing really to keep him going. Iowa isn’t seriously in play, he has no strength in New Hampshire.
Mr. Rollin’s grasp of events, like many in the political class, seems to be limited to politics. While Dr. Carson does have new staff in place and his ground game in Iowa is strong, that is not the main point. Dr. Carson and his followers know that there is a bigger issue here.
Dr. Carson’s campaign is more akin to the story of David and Goliath than to any recent elections. Most folks know the highlights of this story about the young shepherd boy David who slays the warrior-giant Goliath with a stone and his sling. Americans love the underdog, especially one that wins. It is interesting to see how the GOP field are fighting each other for that underdog/outsider status, but there is much more to this story. The whole thing is found in I Samuel 17.
The Israelites were at war with the Philistines (modern Gaza, go figure). To end the conflict, the Philistine Goliath challenged the Israelites to send out a man to go one-on-one with him. The losing side would become the subjects and slaves of the winner. The Israelite response was fear and trembling.
When David showed up in the camp to deliver food to his brothers, he heard Goliath’s taunt and asked the soldiers, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (26)
David, the outsider, sees the issue clearly: Israel’s soldiers cower in fear while the honor and glory of God and Israel are at stake. He has called them out, and they don’t like it.
David’s brother gets angry. He accuses David of being prideful, evil and with impure motives, but will not fight the giant himself. David ignores the lies.
Then David volunteers to fight Goliath. King Saul insists that David is too young and inexperienced, but David disagrees. He can kill Goliath just like he killed lions and bears to protect his flocks, with skill and God’s help.
Saul put his own armor on David and gave him his sword. David tried them out but wasn’t used to them. Instead, David chose five smooth stones from a nearby stream. With stones and sling, he approached Goliath.
The rest of the story is the familiar part. David faced Goliath, much to Goliath’s derision. Then David puts a stone in his sling, strikes Goliath on the head, kills him, and then chops off the giant’s head with the giant’s own sword.
The lesson is that David had to be David in order to successfully defend God and the Israelites. He couldn’t let the lies of his brother stop him. He couldn’t let the well-meaning Saul force him to fight Goliath under Saul’s terms. David had to be himself, to use his own methods, and most of all to rely on God.
The lesson is the same for the Carson campaign. Ben has to be Ben in order to be successful. He cannot let the lies of the media about his life, his policies and his motivations distract him from the conflict at hand.
Ben also cannot adopt the tactics and strategies of the political class, no matter how well meaning, to win the day. His recent campaign staff shake up is acknowledgment that he has tried it their way but it doesn’t work for him. In that same article, his former campaign chairman Barry Bennett said:
The divide between the outside and inside is too deep. There is nothing we could change structurally at this point to make it better. It is what it is, Dr. Carson is who he is. I have so much respect for him, but he wants to do things in a way that I don’t, so it’s best that I step down. I’m sure they’ll figure it out.
Dr. Carson has figured it out. He has shed the armor of “the way it should be done” and is choosing his own stones for the fight ahead. Despite what some are saying, it’s not Armstrong Williams who has the greatest influence on Dr. Carson, it is Dr. Carson’s love of God and the American people.
And who is Goliath in our modern analogy? Perhaps you were imagining the media, the political class, the Democrats, the Republicans, Russia, China, or even ISIS. The Goliath Dr. Carson is fighting is any one, any thing and any ideology that disgraces or defies a constitutional and Judeo-Christian America.
Dr. Carson’s candidacy is about saving America from her true enemies and leading us into a bright future. And it is far from over.