September Is All Set to Be Ben Carson Month

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Donald Trump’s moment in the spotlight is up. He won’t go gently into that good night, but go he will. The big question at this point is who will replace him as the tea party’s temporary favorite? The answer appears to be Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who made a name for himself among conservatives with a speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. Here’s a short excerpt:

The PC police are out in force at all times….We’ve got to get over this sensitivity….what we need to do in this PC world is forget about unanimity of speech and unanimity of thought….PC is dangerous….one last thing about political correctness, which I think is a horrible thing, by the way….I’m not politically correct….

Do you notice a trend? Carson also talked about HSAs (a replacement for Obamacare) and tithing (a 10 percent flat tax) and the deficit (bad) and education (good) and moral decay (ruined the Roman empire) and, yes, even mentioned God a few times. But political correctness is his real schtick, and he hates it even more than Trump.

But why? Since Carson seems set to become the Next Big Thing, Ed Kilgore decided to explain him to us. In the first GOP debate, Carson made mention of the “Alinsky Model,” which enjoyed a brief vogue among conservatives a few years ago and then sort of disappeared from sight. Kilgore takes off from there:

The “Alinsky Model” is a dog whistle to a certain breed of conspiracy minded hard-core conservative, as is the identification of [Hillary] Clinton with the “secular progressive movement.” Both are references some might recognize from Glenn Beck’s many discourses, and both are meant to describe people who are actively and consciously working through deceit to enslave if not destroy (Carson’s word) America. The Alinsky Model’s main weapon, according to most aficionados of this sort of thinking, is “political correctness,” which happens to be Dr. Ben Carson’s favorite phrase for everything he is fighting against.

….The more you listen to Carson talking about “political correctness,” the more it becomes obvious he’s not attacking college speech codes or disputes over racial or ethnic or gender terms, but liberal elite mockery of right-wing conspiracy theories….In this context, it becomes clear that Carson’s occasional “gaffes” aren’t really accidents, but what he believes: Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery; Obama might be planning to cancel elections; Democrats are opening the borders to bring in immigrants who will increase the welfare population and thus keep Democrats in power. Even though these are not unusual beliefs in the fever swamps of the far right, they are exotic for a major-party presidential candidate.

….And there’s something extra special about an African-American preemptively labeling suspected incidents of racism and sexism as mere political incorrectness, which he then defends as essential free speech! Let it rip!

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your next man of the moment. Like Trump, he specializes in mood affiliation politics: nice, easy, common-sense solutions to all our problems, without bothering to explain how any of this stuff can actually work. Unlike Trump, he has a very calm demeanor. So if you like your third-grade comfort food politics with a side of bombast, Trump is your guy. But if you like it smooth and affable, Carson is. Take your pick.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate