By Julianne Malveaux
When neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson started flirting for a Presidential run, I thought he had lost his mind. Now that he has jumped into the fray, opening his mouth one too many times, I know he has.
The problem? Too many people disagree with me. He raised $20 million in the last quarter, more than any of his competitors (of course, Donald Trump is self-financing his campaign). For an outsider, he has done extremely well, raising $31 million in just a few months.
Why are people supporting him? Many are signaling their disgust with Washington politics by supporting the nerdy neurosurgeon Carson, and caustic former CEO Carly Fiorina.
In a recent CNN poll, Trump, Carson, and Fiorina beat more established candidates Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Senator Ted Cruz. Those who bring up the rear of the field include Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Senator Rand Paul, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and New Jersey Governor Chris Cristie.
During the first Republican debate, I thought I was watching a ten-person episode in a stand-up comedy reality show. The more substantive conversation at the “kiddie table” for those who polled lower than “front runners,” catapulted Carly Fiorina into the September 16 debate, where she handled the bombastic Donald Trump more forcefully than others.
Since that debate Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Texas Governor Rick Perry have dropped out of the race. There are others who need to drop out. Given his position in the polls and his now-expanding pocketbook, Ben Carson is not likely to go anywhere. Will we be stuck with the brother from another planet as nominee, and possibly President of the United States?
Carson admits that he does not know what he is taking on. When asked how, as President, he would handle the hurricane that threatened the East coast on September 30, he responded, “I don’t know.” Many of his other responses to questions mirror those of Donald Trump’s, which boil down to “we’ll figure it out.”
The voters are expecting Carson or Trump to “straighten out” the government because of their reputations, even though they have no experience in running a country.
How can we trust people who would build walls between the US and Mexico, or who could not accept Muslims in government? How can we trust a prevaricator like Carly Fiorina who uses nonexistent videos as a talking point in her campaign?
The brother from another planet may be doing so well in the polls because he is pandering to predominately conservative white audiences with his extreme views.
His clear contempt for African-Americans who are not in his corner is troubling. He says that the media has “manipulated” African-Americans. His comments seem to suggest that African-Americans do not have minds of our own, and that we are open to manipulation. Why didn’t he say that his white conservative allies are being manipulated by his homophobic, jingoistic comments?
Carson has said many of the things conservatives want to hear. He has described marriage as a union between a man and a woman, even as the LGBT community has waged a successful struggle for marriage equality. He has associated the gay community with “beastiality” and referenced marriage equality advocates with extreme groups like NAMBLA (North American Man/ Boy Love Association), which few support. He says homosexuality is “a choice” because people go to jail straight and come out gay.
Some support him because he is unapologetically “politically incorrect.” But he crosses the line between being politically incorrect and being offensive, inhumane, and bigoted. He would not trust a Muslim to be commander-in-chief. Half a century or so ago, there were fears that Catholic President John F. Kennedy might be unfit for office because of his religion.
The quote that catapulted Carson onto the public stage was one he made at the National Prayer Breakfast. He described the Affordable Care Act (often known as Obamacare) as worse than slavery. President Obama was in the audience and Republicans aplauded Carson for his audacity in confronting our President to his face. Since Carson had never been a slave (except, clearly, mentally), his comments were absurd. His comments suggested that he would use race, but in a pejorative way (consider the manipulated Black folks), but they were embraced.
If Ben Carson were anybody other than a reportedly smart African-American neurosurgeon, would he be holding his own in the polls? If he had not described the Black Lives Matters movement as “divisive,” would he have any traction? In the weeks since the September 16 debate, he has gained almost a million Facebook followers – 50,000 more than Donald Trump. Does that mean he could be President?
I trust that the brother from another planet will fizz out, but given this Republican race, anything could happen. Are we ready for an anti-Muslim, anti-gay, evangelistic hardliner to preside over our country? Wake up, voters. Carson is an impending disaster.
Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist in Washington, D.C. Her latest book “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama & Public Policy” is available for pre-order on www.juliannemalveaux.com.