In recent days the media has been abuzz with speculation over cabinet appointments within the incoming President-elect Donald Trump administration. Specifically, much talk has focused on Dr. Ben Carson and his announcement that he was not interested in serving in a cabinet post.
Observers have tried to read the tea leaves and read into some underlying story as to how Dr. Carson arrived at this decision and what it signals. However, they are missing the point.
I have known Dr. Carson and his family for 25 years. This is a man who possesses remarkable vision. He imagined possibilities in his chosen field of medicine and then made them a reality.
He was the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in the United States at the age of 33 when appointed at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1984. He has served on the boards of major companies like Costco and Kellogg, received more than 60 honorary doctorate degrees, numerous national merit citations, and was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008. And yet, arguably the most important thing that makes Dr. Benjamin Carson a fantastic appointee for the cabinet position of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is his compassion.
Dr. Carson believes that whenever there is a concentration of people with a lot of poverty, it doesn’t matter what their race is. A multitude of conflict and the types of trouble we have seen over the past decade will continue if we aren’t able to carry out the mission of HUD. HUD’s mission to create “strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all… improving the quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”
In recent years Dr. Carson was called to serve, and he accepted the call by running for the presidency. He would have made an outstanding President, but it was not to be. Part of what makes him so unique is his vision for what this country can achieve are how it can be shaped to reach its full potential.
Growing up in inner city Detroit and Boston, Dr. Carson has seen a lot of trauma and has spent a significant amount of time in neighborhoods with various problems. He has also spent time reflecting on the Obama administration’s HUD rule designed to “desegregate” housing by withholding funds from communities that fail to further their projects “affirmatively further” fair housing. He has written: “The new rule would not only condition the grant of HUD funds to municipalities on building affordable housing as is the case today but would require that such affordable housing is built primarily in wealthier neighborhoods with few current minority residents and that the new homes be aggressively marketed to minorities.
In practice, the rule would fundamentally change the nature of some communities from primarily single-family to largely apartment-based areas by encouraging municipalities to strike down housing ordinances that have no overtly (or even intended) discriminatory purpose — including race-neutral zoning restrictions on lot sizes and limits on multi-unit dwellings, all in the name of promoting diversity.”
Dr. Carson will continue to possess that vision and work toward its realization.
Running an agency of the government is a management challenge that requires incredible organizational skills and expertise. The President entrusts his cabinet officials with enormous responsibility and looks to them to master the details and muster the men and women who work within their agencies to accomplish the objectives at hand.
I have no doubt that Dr. Carson would have met and exceeded any challenge set before him and done a fantastic job. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you can hire management, but not vision. It’s a unique attribute that people either possess or not.
In the end, Dr. Carson will work tirelessly on behalf of the American people, including those in our rural and urban communities to assure that all Americans have affordable, safe, and quality homes.