Whatever you think of Ben Carson as a presidential candidate* his life story and accomplishments are indisputably inspiring. And wherever he finishes in the GOP field, that story and those accomplishments give him a powerful stature with which to speak to a party that needs to speak more persuasively to minority voters and people struggling to climb the income ladder.
Carson as a candidate can’t speak exclusively to these people who tend not to vote Republican — that’d be a pretty dead-end approach to winning a Republican primary — but he does have a message for them. And he outlined it this week in an op-ed in USA Today.
Noting the recent protests of Bernie Sanders’ campaign events by members of the Black Lives Matter movement, Carson says their anger would be better directed at “the real sources of our hopelessness,” and suggests where they march instead (emphasis and links original throughout):
“Let’s head down to the board of education. Teaching is a tough job and thank God there was a teacher who convinced me that I was not dumb, but our schools are failing and we have no power to abandon them. The actions of rogue police officers take black lives one at a time. Our public school system has destroyed black lives not in the ones and twos, but in whole generations.
“The schools don’t teach and our children don’t learn. Too many public schools are controlled by teachers unions focused more on the convenience and compensation of adults rather than the education of children who started out far behind. Their failures don’t kill as quickly, but they do kill as surely as a bullet.
“Let’s confront the entertainment industry that lines its pockets by glamorizing a life where black men are thugs and our women are trash. Let’s tell them we plan to start talking with our wallets.
“It is time for them to pick on someone else because we have had enough. Demeaning women is not art, and it shouldn’t be profitable. Neither is glorifying violence and equating prison time with authenticity. ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ No. 1 in movie theaters, is just the latest example. You only have to watch the trailers.
“Let’s go down to city hall. Living behind a door with three deadbolts is not living in freedom. Being too scared to walk around your block at night is not the pursuit of happiness we were all promised.
“Let’s go over to the crack house. We need to tear it down. Profiting from selling poison to our children and destroying lives must not be the ambition of our children. These monuments to our destruction deserve our active scorn not our silent acceptance.
“We should go to Washington. For decades they have fought the ‘War on Poverty.’ Poverty won. We lost.
“Over 19 trillion dollars has been wasted, but can anyone identify a single battle won as a result? We certainly have not helped the poor ‘lift themselves out of the ruts of poverty’ as Lyndon Johnson promised — far from it. These programs have been a great American failure.
“We should have a talk with the Democratic Party. Let’s tell them, we don’t want to be clothed, fed and housed. We want honor and dignity.
“We don’t want a plan to give us public housing in nice neighborhoods. We want an end to excuses for schools that leave us without the means to buy our own houses where we choose to live. We want the skills needed to compete, not a consolation prize of Section 8, Food Stamps and a lifetime of government paperwork.
“Finally, we need to go over to the Republican Party. We need to tell them they have ignored us for too long. They need to invite us in and listen to us. We need to communicate and find a different way.”
A lot of Americans certainly have a lot to be angry about on these points. The past seven years haven’t made much of a difference on any of them for the people holding the protests. Maybe it’s time for them to follow Carson’s lead and try something different.
* I am aware of Carson’s rise in the polls since the first GOP debate earlier this month. I still do not believe he will be the nominee. But then, I never thought Trump would lead the race, so what do I know?
(Note: I am at the Georgia Chamber’s congressional luncheon in Macon, where we’ll hear from, among others, Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson and Fox News Channel’s pollster/focus grouper extraordinaire Frank Luntz. I’ll report on what they have to say later, but comment approval may be a little slow in the meantime. Thanks in advance for your patience.)