If you’ve followed me on Twitter or Facebook for more than five minutes, you may have noticed I’m paying a lot of attention to the presidential primary races. Look further, and you may notice a certain affinity for one of the since-dropped-out candidates:
It’s true. I unashamedly supported Dr. Carson’s candidacy for president. I believe his story embodies everything that’s good about what America has to offer: Born into poverty, Ben Carson went from the “dumbest kid in class” to graduating at the top of his class and went on to a career as one of the best neurosurgeons of all time. He’s the guy who figured out how to separate conjoined twins without having to choose which one to keep. His story is so incredible it was made into a movie with Cuba Gooding Jr. playing the part of Dr. Carson.
He was also awarded the presidential medal of honor for his work. The guy is literally a national hero. And since his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013, he’s built a following as a potential political leader as well. It’s refreshing to see someone take a stand for his principles while not personally attacking people who disagree. Add to that his calm, never frazzled demeanor, his conservative values and rock solid flat-tax plan, and he is basically the ideal political candidate, and the antithesis of everything slimy politicians are known for.
Yes, I wanted Dr. Ben Carson to be our next president.
When people asked Dr. Carson why he was running, he would often talk about how he had the choice to retire quietly and enjoy the fruits of his successful career. He could relax and enjoy time with his wife and grandchildren. But he knew that the country he loved was deteriorating and headed in a direction that would offer his grandkids a worse America than the one he had known. He wanted to restore American values and principles in order to ensure future generations could have the unique opportunities and liberties he enjoyed throughout his life.
Which is why I can’t understand his endorsement of Donald Trump.
Yes, they are both political outsiders. Yes, Donald Trump vows to “Make America Great Again.” Yes, he knows how to make deals and get stuff done. But the man is quite the opposite of Dr. Carson.
His rude, brash demeanor, along with paying his supporters to fight protestors stand in stark contrast to Carson’s humility and calls for civility in our political conversation.
Trump’s economic protectionism is a 180-degree turn from Dr. Carson’s nearly pure free market stance.
Donald Trump’s lack of actual substantive ideas is completely the opposite of Carson’s well developed policy proposals on the economy, education, fighting terrorism, healthcare, and more.
Even Trump’s story, of inheriting his father’s fortunes, using government loopholes to succeed and hurting people in need to further his interests, is a completely different version of America than the one in which Dr. Ben Carson grew up. In fact, it seems the values and principles Dr. Carson would like to restore and pass down to his grandchildren are completely at odds with everything Donald Trump represents.
So why did Dr. Ben Carson endorse Donald Trump for president?
In Dr. Carson’s own words, “There are two different Donald Trumps. There’s the one you see on the stage, and there’s the one who is very cerebral, sits there and considers things very carefully, you can have a very good conversation with him.”
I agree with Dr. Carson: There are definitely two Trumps. There is apparently the on-stage bully Trump, and the mild-mannered, considerate Trump no one outside his personal sphere has ever seen. There is the pro-life Trump in this election, and there is the “pro-choice” Trump for the first 60 years of his life. There is the Trump who thinks his judicial activist sister would make a good Supreme Court Justice, and the Trump who doesn’t think it would be a good idea to nominate her because it might be seen as nepotism.
There are two Trumps—within weeks, days, and sometimes hours of each other. But I differ with Dr. Carson because I see that as a major weakness, and a warning sign. As writer Mollie Hemingway wisely pointed out, “I think everyone knows there are multiple Trumps. [The] fascinating phenomenon is that everyone thinks their favorite version is [the] only real one.”
If we don’t know who Donald Trump claims to be during an election, how do we know we’ll like what we get when he’s the president and four years stand between him and the next check on his ego?
Since Dr. Carson announced his endorsement of Donald Trump last Friday, several people have asked if this changes my mind on Trump.
In short: No.
Dr. Ben Carson’s endorsement of Donald Trump does not change what I believe to be true about Donald Trump. It caused me to question Dr. Carson’s reasoning and try to understand his decision, but that process has only strengthened my beliefs. It’s worth noting that it looks like even Dr. Carson is starting to hedge his endorsement a bit.
But when I participate in elections, whether for president or county councilman, I vote for the candidates I believe will further the interests of our community and nation for the benefit of everyone. I don’t believe Donald Trump would be a good choice to represent my county, my state or my country.
Despite my appreciation for Dr. Ben Carson and what he has represented throughout his life and in this election, I will never vote for Donald J. Trump.