Why Not Ben Carson?

So, last night, I mentioned that I have settled on Ted Cruz as my candidate of choice for the primaries. I also mentioned I would take some time to discuss why I had not settled on some of the other candidates. I will begin with Doctor Carson tonight, as he is one of the more interesting cases. Most of you know that I’ve been following politics for quite some time now, and though I have stopped writing as much on purely political topics, that doesn’t mean I have tuned out of the process. Ben Carson from the time he first hit national headlines has always both had my respect for his honesty and grace in that first speech he gave, and given me serious concerns when the reactions from conservatives started rolling out. I will not say I do not support him simply because he has not held public office. I was a huge Herman Cain supporter back in 2012, and he had never held office either.

My trouble was two fold. First, unlike Mr. Cain, Dr. Carson has also never actually run for a public office before. He doesn’t understand the process and mechanisms, and it shows in how he has handled his campaign so far. Those things can be overcome with wise council and a clear message, but that brings me to the second issue with regard to political experience. Unlike Mr. Cain, who had spent the years between his failed Senate bid and his campaign for President studying and discussing politics, issues and the political system, Doctor Carson also does not have a clear political world view that he can articulate.

Understand, I’m not bashing the man here. As I said, I have a deep respect for his accomplishments, his story and his faith. I have a deep respect for his willingness as a simple citizen to take a shot at running for the highest office in the land, simply because he is concerned for the nation and desires to help. But, all that said, one of the things I mentioned yesterday as being a primary concern for me in this race is that the person needs to be solidly grounded in Constitutional principles and the history of the founding. Doctor Carson has demonstrated himself to have many of the other traits I mentioned. So far, he appears to be a man of strong faith, integrity, and character. I would imagine he possesses at least a modicum of leadership qualities from his time at Johns Hopkins. But in the area of the Constitution, the American political system, and the ideals of the founding, he has also demonstrated he is playing catch up. And with the current field, I quite frankly cannot see voting for someone that does not have that critical understanding already hardwired into their worldview.

The other major issue I had, and still have to some degree, isn’t so much with him, as with his followers and the means by which he came to be running. When he gave that speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, political pundits all over the conservative sphere lauded it as a slap in President Obama’s face, and strong stand for faith and conservatism. But, I listened to that speech, and that wasn’t what it was. It actually came across as relatively gentle chiding of the President, and a general call for both sides of the political aisle to come together because we are all part of a whole. Nice message, and well delivered, but hardly the hard-core conservative rant it was made out to be.

In the months that followed, the clamor for Ben Carson for President continued to rise, and I gotta say it really bugged me. I listened to much of what Doctor Carson was saying in interviews and such over those months, and it was quite frankly all over the map on issues important to conservatives ranging from abortion to gun control and health care. What I heard each time I took the time to listen was dissonance (a word you will likely hear quite a bit out of me for the next few pieces). His articulated positions didn’t jive either with his own other positions or with conservatism in general. And no one seemed to notice, the cry for him to run just kept getting louder.

No political correctness
No political correctness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the primaries finally came around, the situation hadn’t really changed all that much. Doctor Carson has a really steep learning curve, and I do believe he’s been making an honest effort to absorb as much information as he can as quickly as he can about the various issues that will face a President. At the same time, half of the time he has been given in debates seems to be taken up with aw shucks you’re finally letting me talk or a platform that consisted almost entirely of getting rid of political correctness for at least the first three or four debates. This is a problem. Worse, as much as I know Doctor Carson to be a man of faith from all I’ve read, his comments and answers with regard to that seemed off balance and out of sync. I know where that comes from. It’s a problem many in our nation are struggling against right now. We’ve bought into the permeating lie in the culture that faith is private and not to be mixed with our public affairs, and certainly not our politics.

And that leads me to now, Doctor Carson is not a bad man. Nor, in another time, would he make a bad candidate for President. In truth, I would dearly love to see him appointed to the position of dismantling Obamacare, streamlining and debloating the Department of Health and Human Services, until such time as he has helped develop a plan for getting the government out of the health care industry. I wouldn’t even mind seeing him run for President again in another cycle or two. By then, he’d probably make a good President.

But, for the time being, I can’t get past the need to have a candidate that has already developed a firm worldview that is Constitutional in nature and fully integrates their faith and their politics. Right now, in spite of his very steep learning curve, and extremely amazing progress on learning all he has and incorporating it bit by bit into a world view, Doctor Carson isn’t there yet. My fervent hope is that he chooses to step down with grace, sooner rather than later. Because those who pressed for him to run, in their fit of populist angst and idealistic fervor, will continue to support him until he does withdraw. Of those who have come on board later, whatever their reasons might be, many will also stick with him until the bitter end. Good men do tend to inspire loyalty in their supporters. But, as things stand, he’s not garnered enough of those supporters to carry him to a victory in the nomination process, and it’s likely he will struggle with other things like name recognition in the general. And he’s keeping the vote split among those who are looking for a conservative candidate to carry the GOP standard.

In the meantime, as with the others I mentioned yesterday, Doctor Carson deserves the thanks of our nation for having brought a citizen’s perspective to the rarefied air of Presidential politics. He has faced the slings and arrows for the most part with dignity and grace. He has articulated many of the common sense criticisms and solutions that we the people have been bandying about for the last several years. His courage in running has been a blessing, and truly, I do hope he knows he is appreciated.

Tomorrow, the Donald.

Be blessed and be a blessing, and happy voting!

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