Ben Carson, who in many polls is now the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, calls himself a “reasonable person.” Indeed, this is how much of the press has covered Carson — suggesting Carson’s pleasing “bedside manner” offers “a soft-spoken alternative” — especially when contrasted with his bombastic rival Donald Trump. But if you pay attention to what Ben Carson is saying, not just how he’s saying it, it is utterly clear how extreme and outrageous Carson is — staking out positions far beyond Donald Trump, the majority of Republican voters, and certainly the majority of the American people. And what’s also clear is how dangerous Carson is, especially for women.
And yet, the “reasonable” perception of Carson persists, which makes a little sense when his demeanor is compared to Trump’s clownishness, but does not stand up in light of the facts. Carson cited his own “reasonableness” on Meet the Press this weekend when he said this: “I’m a reasonable person and if people can come up with a reasonable explanation of why they would like to kill a baby, I’ll listen. Rape and incest — I would not be in favor of killing a baby because the baby came about in that way.” In case you missed it through the muddle of all that reasonableness, that was a presidential candidate — and a doctor — saying that he believes abortion is murder and that all abortion should be outlawed with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
And then, because that isn’t outlandish enough, Carson compared abortion to slavery:
We’ve allowed the purveyors of the vision to make mothers think that that baby is their enemy and they have the right to kill it. Can you see how perverted that line of thinking is? During slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave — anything that they chose to do. What if the abolitionist had said, you know, “I don’t believe in slavery. I think it’s wrong. But you guys do whatever you want to do.” Where would we be?”
In other words, abortion is like slavery and pregnant women are like slave owners. You have to imagine Donald Trump watching that one and thinking to himself, Whoa, even I didn’t say that about Mexicans!
But that’s not even the first time Dr. Carson has analogized health-care choices and slavery. In 2013, Carson told a group of conservative voters, “Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” Ben Carson with slavery analogies is like Mike Huckabee with Nazi analogies. Or Ben Carson with Nazi analogies, actually, since he throws them around a lot, too. Like when he recently suggested that the Holocaust would have been “greatly diminished” if Jews had been armed.
Reasonable, schmeasonable. Here’s the thing about Trump: He sounds unhinged every time he opens his mouth but many of his positions make some sense. Not on immigration reform or immigrants, for that matter, and certainly not on a host of other issues. But Donald Trump once considered himself pro-choice and at least still says he supports exceptions for abortion bans for rape and incest. He opposes the TPP trade deal and says he wants to raise taxes on hedge-fund managers. And he opposes cuts to safety-net programs like Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. He doesn’t sound very reasonable when he explains his views — for instance, regarding safety-net cuts: “I’m gonna make us so rich you don’t have to do those things.” But at least *some* (emphasis on SOME) of the things he’s saying are reasonable, which has provided democracy lovers like me some modicum of hope.
Trump’s supporters are mostly a mix of the ideologically hapless and the racially anxious gravitating toward the centrifugal force of a celebrity. But Ben Carson’s supporters are, for the most part, fierce right-wing ideologues.
In this formulation, Ben Carson isn’t the anti-Trump. Trump is a sheep in clown’s clothing. Carson is a wolf dressed as a sheep. Carson is espousing a very extreme set of views around which he has coalesced a very extreme base of voters. If Trump wins, it may very well mean the end of the republic. But if Carson wins, it will very much mean the maintenance of government and its manipulation to advance a very narrow, very extreme agenda. There is nothing reasonable about Ben Carson. His ideas and his candidacy are dangerous for women and for all of America.