There’s No Secret to Ben Carson’s Success


What accounts for Ben Carson’s popularity? It’s not really that hard, says Ed Kilgore:

Less obvious — and finally being recognized by political reporters spending time in Iowa — is that Carson is a familiar, beloved figure to conservative evangelicals, who have been reading his books for years.

Another factor…is that Carson is a devoted believer in a number of surprisingly resonant right-wing conspiracy theories, which he articulates via dog whistles that excite fellow devotees (particularly fans of Glenn Beck, who shares much of Carson’s world-view) without alarming regular GOP voters or alerting the MSM.

Yes indeedy. Carson has written eleven books, six of them in just the past two years, and evangelicals eat them up. Just like they eat up his devotion to hardy right-wing conspiracy theories. And on the political front, Carson knows exactly what turns evangelicals on. Here’s “Ben on the Issues”:

  • Protecting Innocent Life
  • Balanced Budget Amendment
  • Education (“Any attempt by faceless federal bureaucrats to take over our local schools must be defeated.”)
  • Keep Gitmo Open
  • Health Care: ObamaCare is a Looming Disaster.
  • Keep Faith in Our Society
  • Russia and Lessons Learned
  • Protect the Second Amendment
  • Stand By Israel, Our Bulwark Middle East Ally
  • The American People Deserve a Better Tax Code

That’s about as good a look at the evangelical id as you’re likely to get. And lest you think that Ben actually has something to say about these issues, he doesn’t. Here, for example, is his complete and unabridged policy statement on taxes:

The current tax code now exceeds 74,000 pages in length. That is an abomination.

It is too long, too complex, too burdensome, and too riddled with tax shelters and loopholes that benefit only a few at the direct expense of the many.

We need wholesale tax reform.

And, we won’t get that from career politicians in Washington. They’re too deeply vested in the current system to deliver the kind of bold, fresh, new reforms that the American people are demanding.

We need a fairer, simpler, and more equitable tax system. Our tax form should be able to be completed in less than 15 minutes. This will enable us to end the IRS as we know it.

Basically, this says that Ben Carson hates the IRS and hates taxes. And that’s enough. Very few people, liberal or conservative, actually care much about policy statements. They care about voting for a candidate who thinks like them. Carson has made it crystal clear that he thinks like a conservative evangelical, and that’s what they like about him. Just like a different set of pissed off voters likes Donald Trump. Style and tone are irrelevant, and there’s no mystery about why conservative voters are attracted to both a blustery loudmouth and a sleepy conciliator. Both Trump and Carson have clearly staked out who they are and how they think. That’s why they’re doing well so far.