A Critique of Carson: Why the Good Doctor would be a Disaster
Recently, Dr. Ben Carson surpassed Donald Trump in an NBC poll as the leading Republican presidential candidate. Carson is a retired neurosurgeon, well known for his separation of conjoined twins and his work on developing techniques to control brain seizures. Carson’s popularity among conservative voters is likely attributable to the fact that he is a complete outsider to politics. This strikes a chord with voters who are disillusioned with the current state of Washington. Further, there are many voters who share his views.
Dr. Carson’s social and economic stances are clearly very conservative. In the realm of foreign policy, Carson supports strengthening the U.S. military and having our country take even more of a “leadership position” in the international arena. This often translates to unprovoked unilateral military action and unnecessary foreign entanglement characteristic of the Bush Doctrine.
At a time when Americans face many hardships, particularly with regards to economic inequality, we need to focus on domestic rather than international issues. Indeed, the best thing that the United States can do for the international community is to focus on improving our own domestic conditions before increasing our international presence. While it is true that our country has a moral obligation to give humanitarian aid to countries in need, such an obligation must be fulfilled with multilateral efforts. Further, it is immoral and contrary to international legal norms for a country to implement first-strike policies. What's more, such policies are likely to place the United States in a very deep quagmire. This is a lesson we should have learned from the Iraq War. It is also important that we decrease rather than increase our military spending. We need to instead be spending more money on programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which are essential to the well-being of millions of Americans.
Carson also maintains that welfare perpetuates poverty, indicating that he lacks an understanding of the realities of poverty in this country. Most economists agree that economic mobility is limited in the United States, and many conservatives like Carson try to blame Americans who suffer from poverty for their own conditions. The truth is, many hard-working Americans simply earn low incomes or are unable to find work at all. In most cases, it is unfeasible for individuals to lift themselves out of poverty. However, conservatives like Carson try to argue that this lack of economic mobility is an issue of laziness rather than of social contingency -- they would rather distort reality than admit that the well-off have a moral obligation to give to those who are less fortunate. Conservatives such as these refuse to admit that income redistribution is necessary for true equality of opportunity to be realized in the United States.
Carson has also attacked a woman’s right to control her own body. In fact, Carson compared abortion to slavery. This analogy is not only disgusting -- it is inaccurate. A person is an autonomous being, and thus possesses the right to not be controlled by another's wishes. A fetus, by contrast, is not an autonomous being. Until a fetus is viable, it is dependent upon its mother for survival. Thus, a fetus does not possess the rights of an autonomous being. Many conservatives like Carson attempt to argue the very opposite: they argue that a fetus has the same rights as a born individual. Yet, this is completely illogical. It is true that a fetus has the potential to become a born individual, but that does not give it the rights of an autonomous being. Likewise, a child has the potential to grow into an adult, but we do not give children the same rights as an adult. This is made evident by the fact that we do not allow children to purchase alcohol or guns. Carson’s opposition to abortion is an odious attempt to impose his religious beliefs on others.
Clearly, Carson is an undesirable candidate from a liberal perspective. However, even conservatives who agree with many of his views should refrain from supporting him due to his lack of political experience, trustworthiness, and sensibility. While many voters are anti-establishment, it is overly pessimistic to believe that all Washington insiders are corrupted by their experience in government. This mentality results in political experience actually disqualifying candidates for the presidency. In reality, a presidential candidate needs experience in the White House and/or Congress in order to be able to effectively lead the national government. How else would a president-elect know what they will be doing once they get to the Oval Office?
In addition to lacking political experience, Carson has also proved that he is not a trustworthy individual. For example, Politico revealed that Carson lied about being admitted to and receiving a scholarship from West Point. Further, Carson has made a barrage of gaffes and other absurd comments. For example, in response to the recent Oregon shooting, Carson wrote on Facebook, “I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking our right to arm ourselves away.” It is one thing to argue that the right to bear arms is essential for personal protection, but what Carson said is that the right to bear arms takes precedent over human life. This is only one of many ludicrous statements he has made throughout his campaign. Carson would clearly make an ineffective president. Hopefully, a more qualified Republican presidential candidate will soon surpass him in the polls.