So far, Donald Trump has pretty much dominated all talks about the 2016 presidential campaign. Spewing incredibly brazen rhetoric from building a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants to claiming that global warming was created by the Chinese to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive, Trump became such a hurricane of vulgar noise that even Fox News host Bill O’Reilly asked him to “turn it down.”
However, tens of thousands of his supporters saw his unfiltered words as a breath of fresh air and applauded his brash attitude and vehement opposition to political correctness.
As unimaginable as it was, Trump led the polls for months as he defiantly marched towards the presidency. But suddenly, his momentum just…stopped. Now, GOP candidate and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson is the new frontrunner, and that’s not a good thing.
Think back to the first Republican Debate in August. Donald Trump was still making headlines with his extreme opinions, and countless people were tuning in just to see him wreak havoc against the other candidates. During the chaotic squabble that occurred, Ben Carson stood patiently, largely ignored during the debate.
When he did finally get a chance to speak, he joked, “I wasn’t sure I was going to get to talk again,” (The Hill, “Carson at debate: ‘I wasn’t sure I was going to get to talk again,’” 08.06.15). Always chuckling, always soft-spoken, Carson seemed like the only friendly, reasonable candidate among an angry, ravenous mob.
Fast-forward to today, and we have Trump mourning the loss of his lead. “Carson is lower energy than Bush! I don’t get it!” exclaimed Trump at a recent rally (CNN, “Donald Trump on poll slump: ‘I don’t get it,’” 10.28.15).
Some may say that this shift is obviously for the better, as there are more than a handful of reasons to dislike the billionaire businessman. Others believe Carson should be in the lead since he is the best candidate in the election and can resonate with both Democrats and Republicans. However, as warm and charming as Ben Carson may be, he is no different than the garish, ignorant Donald Trump.
The question to address is exactly why Carson took the lead. It could be just because Trump’s outright brazenness has gotten old, but according to The Washington Post, Carson pulled through thanks to his enormous following of evangelical voters.
As a deeply religious man, Carson made it clear that America needs to return to its Christian roots, stating in a recent forum, “It is time to bring God back into our country.”
In regards to social matters, Carson is more than just simply opposed to issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion.
In fact, he has made many alarming, callous statements on these topics. In 2013, he compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia on national television, causing Johns Hopkins to withdraw him as a commencement speaker (ABC News, “Ben Carson Apologizes For Comment on Homosexuality,” 04.05.13). He once compared abortion to human sacrifice and found it “interesting” that Americans call other ancient civilizations “heathen.”
In his latest 2015 book, “A More Perfect Union,” Carson compares same-sex marriage to the “abnormal situation” of requiring cars to accommodate for conjoined twins.
Earlier this year, Carson stated that straight people coming out of prison gay proved that homosexuality is “absolutely” a choice and chuckled about how Christian bakers might poison a cake for homosexual couples to an audience who wasn’t laughing (Huffington Post, “Ben Carson Apologizes For Saying Prisons Prove Being Gay Is A Choice,” 03.04.15).
Based on his past, Ben Carson would probably appeal to a certain demographic of voters, the same who supported Senator Rick Santorum.
Yet Dr. Carson’s rather extreme remarks are not limited to these issues either. After the recent mass shooting in Roseburg, Ore., Carson commented, “I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away,” (Rolling Stone, “Ben Carson: ‘Body With Bullet Holes’ Preferable to Gun Control,” 10.06.15).
In 2014, he called President Obama a psychopath and compared his supporters to Nazi sympathizers (GQ, “What If Sarah Palin Were a Brain Surgeon?” 03.23.15). Less than a month ago during NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Carson stated, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” and later stated that he could never support a Muslim president.
At the Values Voter Summit, Carson stated that Obamacare is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery” and then later added that Obamacare is even worse than the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
Aren’t these the extreme statements that one would expect someone like Donald Trump to blurt out in a fervent frenzy? What’s going on?
Additionally, the most unsettling information is that for almost every criticism against these extreme remarks, Carson blamed the situation on political correctness. For attacks against his comparison between same-sex marriage and bestiality, he blamed political correctness.
For attacks against his comment about not advocating for a president purely because he or she is Muslim, he blamed political correctness. He criticized the “PC police” for pouncing on his every remark.
At a March 2014 event in New York, he compared modern times with a Gestapo Age, where he stated, “[America is] very much like Nazi Germany–and I know you’re not supposed to talk about Nazi Germany but I don’t care about political correctness. You know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate a population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe, and it’s because of the PC police.” He despises political correctness, and he’s not afraid to remind people. Just like Trump.
So what, some may ask. Those are just his personal preferences. Who cares whether he hates political correctness? His policies are what matters. Granted, policies are important, and Carson’s focus on education is not a bad one. However, here’s my biggest problem with Carson: he’s committing the same enormous mistake as not only Donald Trump but also Mitt Romney.
In other words, he is going out of his way to alienate a significant population of people in the country.
Just like Mitt Romney with his 47 percent speech and Donald Trump with his speech about Mexico, Ben Carson is purposefully casting out a large number of the people he’s supposed to represent without a single thought or care.
He makes off-the-cuff remarks that promote hostility, he chuckles off serious issues in a frivolous manner, he shuts his eyes and puts both hands over his ears when someone disagrees with what he says and when he’s faced with criticism, he uses the great bogeyman of political correctness as a scapegoat to dodge responsibility for his actions.
Yes, people should have the freedom to think and do what they want. However, being a leader is an entirely different story. A leader has the terribly difficult job of looking after everyone in the country and caring about them equally.
A leader is someone who can unite, someone who refuses to throw people aside or give up on them. If Ben Carson divides people with his words, then how can he ever hope to unite a nation with his actions?