Most people don’t understand how much Dr. Carson’s decision to endorse Donald Trump crushed my politics loving soul.
As a kid my mom would read his life story to my siblings and I. As a teen, I read and was inspired by “Gifted Hands”. Later, I watched the TNT movie. His inspirational story of perseverance and accomplishment gave me such a sense of pride. His feats as a neurosurgeon and subsequent efforts to give back through his Carson Scholars program were notable.
When I saw the National Prayer Breakfast speech, I knew he was destined for bigger things. Over the next two years, I saw firsthand all the well-meaning people waving signs at every DC event encouraging him to run for president.
I was able to meet he and his wife in the summer of 2014. He was in the city to advocate for life and marriage. It felt good to meet my childhood hero and be able to convey my appreciation to him.
When I saw he was running for president, I had misgivings but I kept them to myself because I really wanted to be wrong. The fact that he had never held political office and was a foreign policy neophyte were an issue for me. In spite of my qualms, I wanted him to succeed however. As a Black conservative, I was hoping that his run would inspire others to see what the GOP platform was all about.
I wasn’t especially impressed with the way he ran his campaign but I hoped for the best. Although there was excitement around his candidacy pre-Iowa caucuses, his faltering debate performances and strategic missteps eventually ended his campaign.
His subsequent endorsement of Donald Trump was such a letdown on a personal level. I learned long ago that you can’t put your complete trust in any politician but I try to keep an open mind until I am shown otherwise. Co-signing and legitimizing Trump’s ill advised and vitriolic campaign was the last straw for me.
In a recent MSNBC interview, he compared the RNC delegate rules to Jim Crow laws in the antebellum South. As a history major and a Black person, I can’t understand how one would equate clearly stated rules voted on by members of by a private organization to a system of widespread and pervasive discrimination against an entire ethnic group. He tried to walk the statement back but the damage was done. When you make more news than the person you are a spokesman for, you are doing it wrong.
Yesterday, he argued that abolitionist and Union spy Harriet Tubman should not replace former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. He maintained that Jackson’s fight against crony capitalism and work to balance the national budget were of vital importance to American history. Jackson has a mixed legacy at best but my issue with Dr. Carson’s statement on the matter is the lack of self-awareness. One has to choose which battles are worth fighting and how much political capital to expend on trivial matters. Once again, I’m left wondering how weighing in on this particular issue serves to further any of his long-term goals.
From here on out, I will have to separate Dr. Ben Carson (celebrated neurosurgeon, author, and humanitarian) from presidential candidate and Trump surrogate Ben Carson in my mind. A poorly run campaign and a bad endorsement do not cancel out all of his other accomplishments but I can’t view him quite the same way.
Dear Dr. Carson, you overcame tremendous obstacles to become one of the world’s most cerebrated neurosurgeons. Please don’t become a caricature of your former self or sell your soul for a seat at the table in a Trump White House. You are better than that and you have too much to offer to the next generation.
The Cerebral Conservative