Let’s talk about Ben Carson.
Astonishingly, I have met people this past week who do not know the story behind Carson’s bid for the presidency. In response to the question, “Do you know who Ben Carson is?” one woman asked if he was a congressman, another asked if Carson was the Hewlett-Packard guy, and one boy said, “Do you mean Donald Trump? Because I know who that is.”
So let’s talk about Ben Carson.
A neurosurgeon turned author turned political commentator for Fox News, Carson is open about his Christianity. It is a staple feature to his candidacy platform. I admire this — Lord only knows the struggle that ensues when a presidential candidate attempts to balance “church and state.” And in a Republican race peppered with big name Evangelicals, Carson has held his own, despite an obvious lack of political experience and an underwhelming debate persona.
It is in the small-group setting that Carson seems to shine. At a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this fall, Carson put everything on the line, saying that, “I can tell you that my faith is very important to me, and I believe that one of the reasons this country excelled beyond anything anybody else has done, and so quickly, is because of our value system. Our values were based upon our Judeo-Christian faith, and as we throw that away, we see that we are no longer excelling, and we’re actually moving in the opposite direction.”
While Huckabee and Cruz, filled with fire and brimstone, are calling Obama’s administration the most “anti-Christian in American history,” Carson is content to be the more conservative among the conservatives. He has even been forthcoming on the subject of his own inexperience, saying in a San Francisco morning TV interview that “there’s nobody who knows everything,” and that the ones who perform well are those who “know how to utilize the experts around them.”
Despite all of this, I don’t know if Carson is the man for the job.
Historically, there have been U.S. presidents with little political background, but those individuals were still either decorated war heroes (e.g. Dwight Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant), or had at least one to two years of mayorship or governorship (e.g. Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson, although Wilson’s election can largely be attributed to the GOP split between Taft and Roosevelt). Twenty-six presidents had previous experience in law, and 22 had military backgrounds.
In a postmodern world, maybe Carson’s bid is not so far-fetched. He is a renowned neurosurgeon. He is a proven leader, an accomplished speaker, an author and a political enthusiast. He is a man of God, and like the judges of the Old Testament, many believe he is being raised up “for such a time as this.”
Who am I to doubt that this is the case? But, if the U.S. is going to elect a commander-in-chief with no experience in either military strategies or foreign policy, then we need to be sure Carson is, indeed, the chosen one. If he is not, then we could be forced to brace ourselves for four years of cabinet leadership.