With Ben Carson taking the lead over Donald Trump in Iowa and perhaps nationally there will be new media focus on him in the third Republican debate. So far he has not gotten much scrutiny, but that will soon change.
What does Ben Carson’s America look like? In many ways perhaps not so different from that of Trump’s, Fiorina, and most of the rest of the Republican presidential field. More style than substance has distinguished the various GOP candidates from one another, but in so many ways they share along with the congressional Freedom Caucus (the Tea Party) faith in what I shall call the five Cs: Conservatism, Constitutionalism, Capitalism, Christianity, and Caucasianism. It is these five Cs–especially let’s call them the Five Fundamentalist Cs–that really is the core of what Ben Carson’s America looks like.
Carson’s campaign slogan is “Heal, Inspire, Revive.” Ted Cruz’s is "Reigniting the Promise of America.” Trump’s is “Make American Great Again.” All three speak to an America in decline, one that has drifted away from it basic principles or values. They want to bring America back to an ideal they once saw in the US but which they see having slipped away, especially under Obama. It is a retro image of America–no, not a benign Norman Rockwell one–but nonetheless one that looks at the country with a halcyon view of the past. It is less looking at the world though rose colored glasses or one that has golden tones. It is instead that world of the five fundamental Cs.
It is a conservative America, one hostile to change and resistant to new ideas, especially those based on science and reason. Thus it is an America that denies global warming, ignores the reality about immigration, cannot come to grips with the fact that vaccines work and do not cause autism, and questions whether other countries have ideas from which we can learn. But on the other hand, Clinton sold us out in Benghazi, Planned Parenthood got rich selling dead baby parts, and Obama is a Muslim who is not an American citizen.
It an America of constitutionalism. No, not a constitutionalism that generally emphasizes individual rights but one of limited government, especially a federal government. It is a belief that all government is wrong, but especially the federal government since the New Deal, and there is a need to strictly enforce the Constitution to limit the size of the government. It detests presidential power–at least as used by Obama–and selectively wants to give absolutism to the Second and Tenth Amendments–but sees no constitutional impediment to waterboarding or restrictions on government spying on its own citizens in the interest of national security. Nor does the Fourteenth Amendment means what is says when it declares all who are born in the US are citizens. And even if it does mean that, we should change it in the interest of getting the Constitution right in terms of what it is supposed to mean.
It is an America of capitalism. It is no coincidence that the Declaration of Independence and Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (the book giving the first expression and description of capitalism) both came in 1776. Markets are good, government is bad. Who needs regulation, such as the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act, as Trump recently remarked. Business can figure out how to protect the environment much in the same way that the Obamacare is not needed because the private sector can find better ways to insure more people than the government can. We do not need to tax the rich, the benefits of capitalism will trickle down to all of us. Welfare disincentivizes the poor and crowds out charity, taxes discourage individuals and businesses from investing, and left to its own devices, privatized government services will do it faster, better, and cheaper than all those lazy overpaid government workers.
It is an America that is Christian. God Bless America. We are one nation under (a Christian) God. Muslims are not welcome and are suspect, especially unfit to be president. Jews are tolerated, and non-mainstream Christian faiths such as Seven Day Adventists are not really Christian. The Constitutional Framers never intended a separation of church and state. Government should be able to enforce morality, ban abortion, prevent gays and lesbians from marrying. Christians should be able to invoke the First Amendment to discriminate, to refuse to provide for birth control for women, and force everyone to pray in public school. With God on our side America can again be a great nation–just let’s not remind anyone about all the times true Christian politicians have been caught with their pants down.
Finally, it is an America that is Caucasian (and male). Especially ironic in part for Carson. But it wants a color-blind America–or at least one that says that the only color that matters is white and that all of us should act that way. It denies racism still exists, all lives matter and not Black Lives Matter, and that police target racial minorities. We need to erect a big wall across American borders (Even Canada for ex-candidate Walker) to keep not just the illegals out but perhaps also to keep all immigrants out. America was better when it was almost all white, but now immigration is flooding America with lazy, welfare-dependent rapists and murders who just want to come to the US to steal our jobs. Oh, except for those agricultural jobs, according to Carson, that pay so low that no real American’s want them.
Ben Carson’s America is what they think the country was like 50 years ago. Or maybe 100 years, of perhaps what it was in 1787 or 1776. It was an America where God made America a shining city on a hill where rich white guys ruled and where everyone else knew their place, whether it was on the plantation, in the kitchen, or working for the businessman who knew best how to invest his money and provide for us all.
This is Ben Carson’s America.