Ben Carson’s meteoric rise above other Republican candidates is, at the very least, rather surprising. So far, Carson has set himself apart the rest of the GOP in the primaries in two ways.
The first being that Carson is not a career politician. Prior to his candidacy, Carson worked as a neurosurgeon for almost 30 years until retiring in June 2013. In his several decades-long career, Carson has received an assortment of accolades for his work: from medical to political, from the National Academy of Science to the NAACP and the White House.
In Carson’s manifesto, America the Beautiful, he defended his entrance into politics, arguing more individuals from fields of science and “others trained to make decisions based on facts and empirical data” ought to get involved in Washington.
The second way Ben Carson stands out from the republican crowd, is due to his diplomatic nature. Carson has not received any smear or attack tactics as of yet, and hasn’t been on the offensive against fellow Republican candidates either.
Carson explained this by saying, “I am not a fire breathing dragon” in an interview with CNN.
During Republican debates, Carson does not appear to distract himself with cutting down any of the competition or rocketing himself to the center of the debate. Instead, he holds the fort down and focuses on his own arguments.
Perhaps this calm, cool and collected Carson is a result of his campaign not being his first time in the limelight. Carson has written nine books, six of them being bestsellers. His autobiography, Gifted Hands, was made into an award-winning television movie starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. as the doctor. Carson was also the youngest director of neurosurgery at 33 when he took on the role at John Hopkins.
Nevertheless, Carson isn’t free of controversy or ignorance. In 2013, Carson compared universal healthcare to slavery. Earlier that year, he compared LGBTQ to pedophilia and bestiality. As of this year, it has come to light that several of Carson’s books contain plagiarized material.
Carson could very well be the GOP’s candidate for the general election, and might even be president. If he wanted to gain the approval of a broader audience, however, his social policies would need to become more moderate. Many independents could be alienated by Carson’s desire to restrict abortion past 20 weeks of fertilization and to increase the presence of the Christian religion in government, which he discussed in an interview with PBS this past March.