When it’s all said and done, and the 2016 political season has come to an end – two things will have assuredly happened. First, we will have elected a new President of the United States. Second, the tone of electoral politics will have changed forever in the United States. Dr. Ben Carson, who announced yesterday that he would be suspending his campaign, has forever changed electoral politics in the United States for the better. He will be remembered as having run one of the most unique and – especially by contrast – dignified campaigns in presidential election history.
To be completely fair to Carson, he did not actively seek the role of presidential candidate; he was drafted into it. After his appearance at the National Prayer breakfast in 2013 (his second, making him and evangelist Billy Graham the only persons to be invited twice speak at the breakfast), in which he criticized so-called progressive policies and called them essentially un-Christian, many people took notice of Carson. The closer they looked, the more they like what they saw. A slow, gentle, but unmistakable mantra began to gather steam among Americans urging Carson to “Run Ben Run.” This phrase echoed throughout Carson’s travels through America in the early months of 2014, as he visited cities and towns, speaking at churches, high schools and book signings. It began to take on real significance when a political action committee with the same name was formed.
Carson was initially surprised but appreciative of all of the accolades and encouragement he was receiving from all around the country. He was already transitioning into a retirement after an illustrious medical career, and looking forward to devoting time to personal pursuits. But the clamor from those around the country who saw Carson as a ‘Breath of Fresh Air’ continued to encourage him and make him consider the fact that God had a plan for him beyond just retiring to a life of comfort and ease. Ever eager to obey and appear willing in the sight of God, Carson seriously considered the options. He ultimately let both his faith and his intellect guide his decision to take the risk and enter the presidential contest.
Those who really know Carson, who understand the magnitude of what he was able to accomplish in the field of medicine, know that he is a person who is quite accustomed to taking risk. What may not be widely understood even among people who know him is that he has evolved a robust and unique framework for when, why and how to take calculated risks. In fact, he wrote an entire book on risk-taking in everyday life called “Take the Risk.” He starts out with the premise that the extent to which we avoid taking risks also reduces our ultimate potential in life. But one of the most interesting aspects of his framework is the B/W Case Analysis, in which Carson essentially poses the questions: What is the Best/Worst thing that can happen if I do this? What is the Best/Worst thing that can happen if I don’t do this?
Carson did not enter the race with his blinders on. He was fully aware of the fact that with his lack of political experience and his stand on great moral issues, he was not likely to be the ultimate nominee. He said as much many times during the early parts of the campaign. But he also knew that he was taking a calculated risk that was essentially all upside for him and America. At the very worst, he would have contributed to the debate and got people thinking clearly about the important issues of the day. At best, he would have a chance as President to deeply influence those values through using the political pulpit to guide the country in the right direction. And so he decided to take the risk, knowing full well that his chances of victory were seemingly slim.
But the other thing that Carson did throughout the campaign was maintain an even keel. He never got too far up when he led in the polls, and never got too down when he trailed. He certainly never allowed his status in the election polls to cause him to waiver in his message. He believed, and continues to believe that we are facing a crisis of values that threatens the very fabric of our country. The effects of that crisis are born out in the critical issues America is facing – political impasse in which people don’t listen to someone else merely because of a political label; a burgeoning and unsustainable national debt that has grown out of our inability (in the world’s most wealthy nation) to live within our means; and a breakdown in our global leadership driven by a reversion to political correctness rather than truth in our discourse.
Throughout his campaign, Carson constantly came back to these issues. He never engaged in the mud-slinging, character assassination or dirty political tricks that have come to typify a serious run for the top office in the land. He is just too good of a man for that. He cares too deeply about our country to get dragged down into gutter politics for the sake of expediency. He knows full well that you can turn a loss into an ultimate win by the character with which you play the game. And for bringing that set of values to the public sphere – where they are sorely lacking at present – Dr. Ben Carson is to be highly commended.
Williams is Carson’s Business Manager and Adviser.