Dr. Ben Carson with a cabinet position is the perfect example of everything wrong with Republican politics in our public government.
The original news over the appointment came with the conservative buzz that Carson would be the first secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to have ever used governmental housing, but, unfortunately, it seems this was a mistruth started by an aid to Carson and picked up by former governor Mike Huckabee on Twitter. However, the Carson family still benefitted from public benefits nonetheless, and it certainly did not prevent Carson’s biography of being one of amazing medical achievement and determination to succeed.
The reality is that public assistance seems to have benefitted Carson’s childhood without leaving him dependent on governmental assistance. This makes his political perspective on governmental assistance a bit personally ironic. Carson’s political career began of course with his high-profile, 2013 National Prayer Breakfast speech critiquing the sense of dependency he feels the public government fosters with its public assistance aims.
Accordingly, Carson’s general political vision of laissez-faire governance makes it difficult to guess how he might utilize the department’s $47 billion budget. Public housing assistance is a main responsibility of the department Carson is about to run, so the national intelligentsia is naturally curious about his safety net intentions given that he seems to be morally opposed to much of the department’s existential purpose.
The appointment was not without a dose of classic Carsonian irony. He originally turned down the appointment and claimed that he wasn’t prepared or qualified to head a cabinet department, which of course is amusing given that Carson tried to be elected President of the United States—or the position that heads all the cabinet departments together. He was even the frontrunner of the Republican primary for a moment early on while the Republican primary base was sifting through and trying out various non-Trump candidates.
It begs the question of why Carson was running for president in the first place if he felt uncomfortable with the responsibility and gravity of a mere cabinet position. Many have made similar arguments about the seeming lack of seriousness with which Donald Trump ran his own presidential campaign. As contemporary presidential elections continue getting more expensive and, as Trump proves, easy to win without experience beyond photogenic bluster, perhaps our elections will simply become elaborate book selling tours of self-promotion. Mike Huckabee certainly seems to have run for president not because he thought he could actually win but because he wanted to sell copies of his culture war-manifesto “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy,” a “G”-loving panderfest to traditional Republican voters’ wallets.
Ben Carson’s faux presidential run was even more profitable, just not for Carson or American democracy. There is ample reason to believe he was duped into running by campaign entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on the sudden political star power he earned from his popularly received Prayer Breakfast speech. These campaign entrepreneurs quickly squandered the unexpectedly numerous donations he received by paying campaign companies conveniently owned by Carson’s campaign officials and their relatives.
Carson’s laissez-faire attitude and/or disinterest in campaign finance suggests an obvious foreshadowing of how his prospective Department of Urban Housing and Development will operate. However, it is fitting with Donald Trump’s general theme of picking unqualified and private-minded appointments to run and self-police the public government.
It’s also why Ben Carson is the perfect example of Republican failure in governance. Republicans are really not interested in public government at all—or the work involved of keeping government public and effective. With historical repetition (the ’20s and the ‘Aughts!) Republicans are going to have total control of the US government again, and the GOP Congress will get to “starve the beast” again with economically irresponsible tax cuts. Meanwhile, if history is an indication, the Trump Administration’s robber baron ranks of special interests will fleece the federal budget and launder tax money. There is a very discernible pattern likely to repeat itself once again with Trump’s recipe of executive power (read up on President Harding and his epically corrupt and economically laissez-faire administration, for instance), and you heard it here first.
There is a bright sun behind the inevitable conservative storm of laissez-faire anarchy and a likely fleecing of the public government, and it is the happy reality that nothing will advance the cause of democratic socialism more than our nearly inaugurated Trumpian antithesis experiment.
The Republican Party’s planned tax cuts will necessitate the shredding of America’s safety net, and the people will begin to suffer again and learn to stop voting for con men taxocrats like Trump, who claim with social-Darwinist gusto that the under-compensated and economically-displaced would be millionaires if we just stop taxing the billionaires, for another generation or two.
Trump’s political vision is a legalism of wealth, and the regular Republican trickle-down effort is a Ponzi scheme that will never turn things around for the main streets and small towns that elected Donald Trump. Modern conservatism has become a religion of avarice, and it’s anti-public tendencies have led to a 2017 executive branch headed by egotistical Know-Nothings like Ben Carson and Donald Trump.
Picture courtesy of Gage Skidmore.