Dr. Benjamin Carson was a famed neurosurgeon long before he exploded onto the national political stage with a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast last month. Now he’s hinting that his medical career might just be followed by a career in politics. He scattered a few teasing hints of such plans through his address to the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference, and also looked back at the negative reactions to his National Prayer Breakfast appearance with a mixture of humor and horror.
He noted that some of his critics have asked why a medical doctor would have any business weighing in on economic policy. “It’s not brain surgery,” he responded with a chuckle, and indeed much of his economic advice is a mixture of common sense (which Carson frequently praises) and the same brand of dispassionate analysis that informs surgical decisions. For example, he observed there’s an awful lot of money floating around beyond America’s borders, and our government could bring it home by “treating businesses as friends, not as enemies” and recognizing they are private enterprises lawfully seeking profit, not welfare agencies. He repeated his comments about truly fair taxation from the National Prayer Breakfast, advocating a low and flat tax system that punishes no one and exempts no one.
What horrifies Carson is the assertion that he had no right to voice his opinions at that February prayer breakfast because he has black skin, and stood in the august presence of King Barack I. He explained that a brain surgeon is well-qualified to give testimony about how people are all the same inside, no matter the color of the skin stretched over their skulls.
As for the propriety of a doctor offering moral and political advice, Carson said this fell under the finest traditions of self-government. “This is a country that’s for, of, and by the people – not for, of, and by the government. And if we turn it over to them, we cannot complain about what they’re doing… because this is the natural course of men, and we have to hold their feet to the fire.”
Angry criticism from the Left has not caused Carson to water down his critique of liberal policies. If anything, he was even feistier at CPAC. He explained that if he were an enemy of the United States, he would set about destroying the nation in four simple steps: create division among the people, encourage a culture of ridicule for basic morality, undermine the nation’s financial stability through excessive government debt, and weaken the military. “It appears, coincidentally, that those are the very things that are happening right now,” he observed. “And the question is, how do we stop it? Can we stop it, or must we inexorably follow the same kind of path that other pinnacle nations have followed before their destruction?”
A major component of Carson’s plan to avoid doom lies in educational reform, which he and his wife have invested heavily in through their scholarship program. Beaming with pride, Carson announced that one of his grantees had been accepted into the neurosurgery program at Johns Hopkins, where he has long been the director of pediatric neurosurgery.
“Education is a fundamental principle of what made America a success,” he declared, reviewing the importance of education (and a determined mother) in his own life, and pointing out that well-educated people are better equipped to pursue opportunity and provide for themselves, rather than lapsing into social safety-net dependency. “We can’t afford to throw any young people away,” he warned.
Carson sees the modern welfare super-state as an outgrowth of America’s innate generosity, but says it was a mistake to entrust that generosity to inefficient, self-interested bureaucracy over efficient, compassionate private charities. He has a dim view of the ulterior motives held by some champions of the welfare state. “What you’re saying is that ‘I, the superior elite, will take care of you.’ Why? Because, you see, that superior, elite group needs to feel superior and elite. And they can’t be superior and elite unless you have a whole lot of people down there groveling around. So you keep them down there by feeding them.”
As he did at the National Prayer Breakfast, Carson warned of the dangers of allowing government to control health care, which represents one-sixth of the economy. “If the government can control that, they can control everything,” he said. Instead, he proposes that 80 percent of the interactions between doctors and patients could be easily handled through health savings accounts, a proposal discussed in more detail in his book, America the Beautiful.
Carson also entreated his CPAC audience to “resist this war on God,” the forced cleansing of religious and moral principles from public life. He views this as an “absolutely absurd” assault on freedom of speech and religion. “Let’s let everybody believe what they want to believe,” he countered. “And that means, P.C. police, don’t you be coming down on people who believe in God and who believe in Jesus.”
This would interfere with the manufacture of division and paranoia among the people, which he cited as step 1 in his four-step plan to destroy America. “We need to understand that we are not each others’ enemies in this country. And it is only the political class that derives its power by creating friction. It is only the media that derives its importance by creating friction… that uses every little thing to create this chasm between people. This is not who we are. We have much more in common with other people than we have apart. And we have to be smart enough to understand that, and we have to live by Godly principles of loving your fellow man, of caring about your neighbor… of developing your God-given talents to the utmost, so you become valuable to the people around you… of having values and principles to guide your life. And if we do that, not only will we remain a pinnacle nation, but we will truly have one nation – under God – indivisible – with liberty and justice for all.”