CAMPAIGN ANALYSIS: Carson’s view of political development

Columnist, retired neurosurgeon and possible presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Maryland, March 8, 2014. CPAC closes after 3 days where thousands of conservative activists, Republicans and Tea Party Patriots gathered to hear politicians, presidential hopefuls, and business leaders speak, lobby and network for a conservative agenda, looking to Congressional gains in 2014 and a Republican president in 2016.     REUTERS/Mike Theiler   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MEDIA) - RTR3G9D5

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A while back, I found some decent footage of Hillary Clinton talking to BlackLivesMatter protestors, and expanded her views of politics. She’s a career politician, and her views are pretty consistent with someone who has a structural view of societies.

Well, I found some decent footage (linked at the bottom of this post) of Ben Carson explaining a variety of positions. … It’s a fairly long video, so the reader doesn’t have to view it all. But, this post is going to try and explain Carson’s understanding of politics, and how it’s separate from Hillary’s.

As with the last post, this isn’t an endorsement; it’s only an attempt to reconstruct how Carson views societies and political life, which is important to know for a presidential candidate. AMIRIGHT!?


PEOPLE! They’re generally good.

Well, the first thing that I notice right away is that Ben Carson believes in the power of human-to-human interaction and contact. He’s a level-headed guy who appeals to logical answers to problems. If you listen to him talking, everything he says pretty much operates on the assumption that people want to work problems out, and are capable of understanding one another.

As far as problems that face the United States, Carson does not find huge structural, systemic problems, like Hillary does. Instead, he sees a lot of these problems as miscommunication between people; and thereby miscommunication between aggregate groups of people. The issue is that there is no mechanisms that foster individual and group interaction, and instead these groups and people are compartmentalized, and not interacting. This, in turn, creates an atmosphere where problems fester, and could explode; like the Langston Hughes poem.

Because it’s more difficult to hate someone you know, he places a lot of stock in communication between people.

… if you think about it, it’s easier to hate a stranger driving the car next to you than it is to hate your co-worker; simply because you’ve interacted with them. So, in this view, interaction changes the dynamic, and people can learn to co-operate. Contrast that, Hillary would probably say that people will remain who they are, and constant dialog won’t change that.

While Dr. Carson (in the video) says he finds that relationship development has helped ease racial tensions in Missouri, I’m willing to bet that Hillary would say that nothing has changed; in fact, the only solution is to fix the systemic issues within the police force (protocols, rules, regulations, etc), which in turn will alter behavior and over time the community will change.

Here’s a few examples showing Carson’s logic. Dig:

— We all know there are racial tensions across America. In Carson’s view, these tensions can be relieved not by introducing procedures or laws, because information, communication, and dialog are the only tools that can fix these issues. This is explained in the video, by him.

… His proposal attempts reconciliation through public outreach and diplomacy among leaders, because people talking to one another about problems is his primary mechanism to resolve disputes — because people are capable of understanding. The leaders, in turn, work with one another over time, come to an understanding, and that understanding will yield a mutually beneficial policy.

Does it seem simple? Yes, it does, but I don’t see any other presidential hopeful who has this approach.

— Carson’s idea on immigration: First, seal the border (something all candidates say, but don’t expand on). But the real meat of his idea is that he proposes, a temporary window of application where, work visas are issued for those who have pristine records. Following this action, the next step would be to leave it up to the people to decide the criteria for becoming a citizen for those select immigrants.

… That proposal is one that is meant to mediate how selected immigrants are vetted into the American system.

The idea isn’t to kick them out (because that’s pretty much impossible). Instead, Carson assumes that integration can occur; again, he relies on the communication mechanism to mediate between US citizens, and those potential citizens (FYI this proposal says nothing about the portion of illegal immigrants who won’t stay — and I’m not sure what his answer is).

So, if you’re the type of person who finds that people are capable of development and change (assumedly for the better), then Carson is closer to your type of candidate. In contrast, if you think that people will not change willfully, and a person’s position will stay where it is (or solidify) over time (i.e. a racist will always be a racist), then Hillary is probably your better candidate.


Laws; they gotta account for individual views.

Another interesting approach of Carson is how he views laws. In the video, he’s asked about that religious woman (the name escapes me) who won’t marry gay couples. He says she shouldn’t be in jail; but he justifies it an interesting way.

For Carson, it’s wrong that she broke the law. However, because the law didn’t exist when she took office, then she can’t be blamed fully for her convictions. So, in this view, had she known that gay marriage was legal prior to taking office, perhaps she wouldn’t have become the Clerk. His solution is to create some mechanism that targets this problem (though that mechanism isn’t expanded on).

This view suggests that laws need to account for human views and understanding of law. Yes, it’s wrong for the woman to refuse gay marriage licenses, but, there is no other way for her to carry out her beliefs; thus, breaking the law is the only way for her to communicate those beliefs. The idea becomes action, and that action is legally invalid, but not invalid from an individual view. So, the individual’s idea must be accounted for in some way.

It seems to me that Carson suggests that there is a frictional transition when new laws are implemented, and those who disagree should have some avenue to not participate with such laws. While it’s a logically solid position, I would find some difficulty targeting precisely what Carson is getting at; but, he’s a smart dude, and that’s probably what he wants to articulate in a presidential position. It is also a slightly dangerous position — but, it seems these days, that the legal system is increasingly being challenged every day (look at marijuana and the increasing role of religion in business), and Carson is adding to that.

Regardless of the mechanics, I thought it was some quality insight from Carson (it starts around 4:50 in the video). I would also say that it has a bit of a Libertarian spin on law (because it champions liberty) — so that might appeal to some of you.


Helping people

Another principle political belief that I hear Carson use is individualism — which is of course why he’s running under the Republican banner.

He claims his core objective is to “give people ladders” so they can climb out of whatever situation that is.

And how do we do this? By listening to people, and implementing solutions from that feedback. I suppose it’s a valid solution. Go ask people what would make them happy, and what they need to motivate them to succeed.

While it’s a valid, logical solution, I would also ask the reader to question whether or not people really know what will make things better. I mean really, if I ask 20 different people what would help them out of poverty, I would get 20 different answers — and how can policy be created from that?

… The view has some issues, but it’s still a solid approach — very Jeffersonian.

While it’s a simple solution, it’s theoretically possible — given people genuinely want to help one another. I would say that Carson seems optimistic about people in general, and is of the opinion that change is possible through mutual communication, listening, understanding, and protecting individual liberty.


Agree or Disagree

Here’s where you can like or not like the approach of Mr. Carson.

On one hand, he presents himself as a calm communicator who emphasizes the power of personal relationships to change attitudes — and I think he’s genuine about that. He’s obviously an extremely intelligent person, and a very skilled surgeon (and I’m sure part of his interest in being president is to leave a legacy in his field in some way, regulatory wise or other).

With Carson, you won’t get overly complex political-y-type answers — as is expected from someone who hasn’t been formally trained in politics or law like Bush or Clinton, so I’m sure that’s refreshing to a huge portion of America. To contrast Carson, Hillary presents a very different picture of people; one that is less optimistic, and I’m willing to bet Bush is close to the same.

Carson’s simple narratives are a strength, because people can readily understand his messages, and his political philosophy is pretty straightforward. The messages are easily digestible, logical, and perhaps his approach is to present his ideas in this way to induce a calm, zen-like environment that encourages mutual understanding; rather than one filled with constant problems.

**Remember: Both parties believe in law, individual protections (although Republicans aren’t too Union friendly), and free-market business (with variations in level of autonomy). Disagreements stem from views of how people interact with one another in society, and what human nature is (and how we behave) — which, contrary to popular belief, has no answer.

I would encourage people to think about politics by using human nature as a starting point, and then construct a view of the world; that way, people can understand political problems a bit easier.

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