The Second Republican Debate: Ben Carson

Dr Ben Carson is a former neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital but don’t let that fool you- he’s incredibly stupid in every other field, but this stupidity wasn’t particularly on show in the debate. Obviously I’m not saying I agree with Carson but it was interesting to see that, despite the very right-wing crowd in front of him, his policy suggestions were quite moderate (for someone who thinks God called him to run for President). Remarkably he is currently second in the Republican field and his position as a soft-spoken outsider has been one of the main reasons that he has been so successful. Unlike some of the most right-wing politicians in the GOP field like Rand Paul or Ted Cruz, Carson as a genuine chance of being the GOP nominee, which is terrifying.

Carson’s first few pieces of speech at the debate were around bolstering his position as an outsider by articulating broad statements without real substance that would increase his popularity. He reiterated his accurate belief that “typically politicians do things that are politically expedient”, and then said he was worried that if a Republican wasn’t elected it would “lead to a situation where the next generation will not have the chances we’ve had”. He then went on to say that pundits who has been critical of his candidacy because he refused to be connected with big money or special interests “forgot the people”, which even for someone who wants to see full communism like myself sounds reasonable.
He was next asked about his fiscal plan, which he had previously framed as based on Biblical tithing, but is actually what we would now call a 10% flat tax. Other than preventing America from getting into surplus, Carson suggested, in a very Reaganite way “get[ting] the government out of the way”, which seems to imply that he would be in favour of cutting back government regulation. When asked whether he would support Donald Trump’s plan for a more progressive tax system that would result in the wealthy paying a higher rate than the poor, he said that that was “socialism”. I’m not an expert but I’m pretty sure that Donald Trump, who made most of his fortune in selling private property, isn’t trying to peddle socialism in the Republican Party.
I think that if I speak quietly enough people will mistake it for political competence.
I think that if I speak quietly enough people will mistake it for political competence. (CNN)
When asked about the minimum wage he suggested one good thing, and one bad thing. The one sensible suggestion was to index the minimum wage to inflation to prevent having to keep arguing about putting up or not. The second suggestion was to have two minimum wages: one for young people and for older people. This is a terrible idea because what it would do is encourage business people who hire people on minimum wage to fire those employees and replace them with young people so they could legally pay them much lower wages; with these millions of people, many of whom do not have an especially good educational background, put out of work more people will required financial assistance from the government and with average wages decreased in this way, the population’s disposable income is reduced, reducing consumer spending.
Carson was next asked about immigration; although he said he wanted to seal the border, which in the GOP means to militarise it until bacteria would struggle to get into Texas, he actually suggested something which could be deemed as somewhat moderate by independents: allowing people who do not have a criminal record to become what he called ‘guest workers’ in the agricultural industry along with a six month grace period to pay back taxes, with failure to do so making that person illegal once again. I oppose this concept on the grounds of workers’ rights because I fear that such a legal status would be open to abuse from unscrupulous employers, however if I were a swing voter in America that supported neo-liberal capitalism I would probably look at Carson as less extreme than say Donald Trump. When this suggested was characterised as amnesty he responded that it wasn’t because “farmers need immigrants as Americans won’t do those types of job”, which, although true, doesn’t answer the question because he has a cognitive dissonance that says that “amnesty = bad”, even if what he proposes is basically a very harsh version of amnesty.
On issues related to the War on Terror Carson said that he opposed the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan; Dr Carson also claimed that he advise George W. Bush to become energy independent and that the threat of such a policy would “hand over anybody”. He then took the courageous decision to encourage a Republican audience to be like JFK and encourage everybody to become focussed on one national goal. Despite this bravery he continued to to chance his arm by arguing that “being aggressive in every situation isn’t answer”, which, considering the make-up of the crowd, was an interesting statement that would appeal to more moderate voters but not to the warmongering simpletons that comprise the GOP base.
Before the debate concluded Dr Carson waded in on the issue of vaccinations, which apparently is a relevant issue of debate among Republican voters. Although he correctly affirmed that there was no link between autism and vaccines, he said that too many vaccines in too short space a time could have unknown repercussions; the promulgation of this falsehood is both immoral and dangerous and, considering that Carson is a medical doctor, his failure to come down hard on Donald Trump’s scepticism toward vaccinations is shameful.
As I alluded to earlier Carson is incredibly right-wing but what his debate focus did was broaden his appeal to people on the more moderate wing of the party that wished to have an outsider as the GOP presidential nominee but wanted desperately to stop Donald Trump. Suppressing his more radically conservative beliefs in favour of pseudo-intellectualism that could appeal to moderates as well as the Tea Party was a stroke of tactical genius that can only be applauded; what cannot be applauded, however, is that this tactical strategy which positioned himself as an alternative to Trump, has made Carson more electable.
If Carson is elected to the White House, not only would there be financial problems but the American government would be represented around the world by a Bible-thumper that believes that God speaks to him, and that has never happened before (if by ‘never happened before’ we mean ‘since 2000’).
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