Ben Carson, Paranoid
Yet if Carson is only moderately conservative, he’s radically paranoid. His rhetoric betrays a sweaty-palmed fixation on government power, and a fear that President Obama has made himself into an American Caesar. Those fears are most clearly manifested in his tendency toward hyperbolic comparison. From his somewhat nuanced take, in “One Nation,” on Trayvon Martin’s death, Carson goes on to argue that the liberal disdain for black conservatives is as pernicious as Jim Crow. At the Values Voter Summit in 2013, he compared the Affordable Care Act to slavery, and argued that both are mechanisms of government control. This is part of a world view in which homosexuality is a matter of volition and possibly a product of a willful, covert effort to subvert traditional values. This is why Carson is able to reconcile support of civil rights for African-Americans with their denial to gays and lesbians, as he stated on CNN last week. African-Americans are not, after all, black on purpose.
The most relevant comparison for Carson isn’t to Cain but to Michele Bachmann, the last Presidential aspirant who, despite membership in a group with a history as targets of discrimination, came to represent the twitchy ideals of American panic. Carson has written of his youth, “Many of the whites in those days found ways to rationalize their unjust treatment of fellow human beings, arguing that they were not racists but rather protectors of traditional values.” Carson’s presence as a potential Presidential candidate represents a triumph, albeit a cynical one, over those rationalizations. He’s moved the country one step closer to that moment when we will be measured not by the color of our skin but by the content of our conspiracy theories.