Friday, October 04, 2013

Ben Carson for President?

I just got an email forwarded by a friend from a Draft Ben Carson for President campaign. For those who don't know, Ben Carson was propelled into the political limelight by a keynot speech he gave at the National Prayer Breakfast. (He may have also become a victim of the ongoing IRS scandal as a result.) Here is my response to the email:

He seems like a great guy. I appreciate a plain-spoken man and he clearly has a grip on the conservative talking points. But it takes a bit more than talk to qualify for the Presidency, and there is no way to know much about how he would go about implementing his ideas. I don't, in principle, object to people running for office with no prior political experience, but President is a pretty big deal and we need to have some grasp of how he would design his reforms and how he would manage to get them through Congress. It may be too early to ask that question, but his lack of executive or legislative history is a big question that needs to be answered.

Also, I realize the original email is not coming directly from Carson, but things like this make me nervous:

Dr. Carson is the only man who can heal and unite Americans - black, white, Hispanic; men, women; employer, employee; young, old.

Nonsense! There are plenty of black conservatives who would be good candidates, and there are plenty of non-blacks who have the political skill to unite different ethnic and socio-economic groups. I like what I see of Carson and would vote for him if he were the Republican candidate, but lets leave the Messianic language to the Democrats.

National Debt. Cut government spending by 10% each year, across the board, until the budget is balanced!

Sounds good, but I need to see the plan.

Obamacare. Repeal it! Replace it with a free market health savings account.

Just about every Rebulican will be saying something like this. Again, need to see the plan.

Taxes. Make it flat and make sure that everyone has skin in the game. Everyone pays.

Fair enough. There are other viable options, but this could work if done right. The "everyone pays" part is going to be a tough sell. Even a black guy is going to get skewered by the NAACP and other such groups. If anything, he might get more heat from them as a "race traitor" or the various other kind expressions that left-leaning blacks use against conservatives. Not that that should stop him, but we are kidding ourselves if we think that he will get a pass just because he is black.

Abortion. End it now! It is barbaric.

As I have said in lots of other places, this isn't the President's job. I realize conservative politicians have to say this sort of thing to prove their cred, but I am always a little uneasy when politicians gloss over the constitutional obstacles to doing this on the Federal level.

Illegal Immigration. Listen to the American people, secure our borders. End it.
Redistribution of Income. Stop it. It’s un-American.
Welfare. It not only encourages self-destructive behavior, it is a trap. Replace it with a truly compassionate, free market approach that enables those on welfare to gain prosperity through employment and entrepreneurship.

Again, with all these issues, we need to see the details. These are some of the thorniest issues in current politics and no president is going to be successful at dealing with them if he doesn't acknowledge the great difficulty of the problems.

Judges. Appoint judges committed to the US Constitution.

This is what I would have liked to hear on the abortion point above. Also, as with everything else, we need more details.

Political Correctness. It is dangerous. It hinders progress and divides our nation.

Whoa! I totally agree, of course, but why is this in a presidential campaign? He needs to be very careful talking about this. If he means he isn't going to base his policies on politically correct considerations, fine. But if he means he is going to try to weed political correctness out of the system, that will quickly get involved in 1st Amendment issues. Maybe this is just more base-rallying rhetoric, but careless words can kill a campaign.

Right to Keep & Bear Arms. It's a vital part of the our Bill of Rights! End of story! 

Fair enough, but his comments to Glen Beck were a little more ... nuanced. Not necessarily a deal killer, but he is going to have to think this through a bit more.

Democrats and Republicans. Both have been part of the problem. America first!

This is probably just more rhetoric, but his Wikipedia page notes that he doesn't actually affiliate with any party. That is going to have to change if he runs for the Republican ticket. If he runs as an independent, then no deal as far as I am concerned.

One last point: Dr. Carson has done a great deal of good with his Carson Scholars Fund. It woud be even better if he expanded it to include scholarships for private High Schools, but that is another subject. I actually think he could do a lot more political good by concentrating on this sort of thing than by running for president. One of the problems with a lot of conservative thinking is that we tend to think that the only important thing in politics is to hold office. But that betrays the very principle of limited government that we are supposedly advocating. Giving young minds the opportunity to learn to think clearly is a much longer-term benefit to the political process than anything a politician can do, especially at the Federal level.

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