While everyone was transfixed by Donald Trump’s ascent from carnival sideshow to ringleader of the GOP primary circus, an equally insidious figure climbed the ranks at an unassuming pace that would make the tortoise proud. According to a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, Ben Carson leads Trump for the top spot in the Republican Primary.
So what exactly has Carson done to make up this ground? Major policy overhauls, charismatic speeches, and raw displays of emotion? No. Actually, Carson has merely appropriated the strategy of the frontrunner; rile up the fearing Tea Party base through anti-establishment rhetoric, anti-gun control hypotheticals (which have become increasingly nonsensical), and general antipathy.
While the rhetoric has been similar, the electioneering styles of the two top candidates couldn’t be more different. Trump’s bullish anger and masterful decibel enhancement stand in direct contrast with Carson’s mild-mannered persona, which he showcased during his time on Meet The Press last Sunday. For twenty grueling minutes, Carson long-blinked his way through Chuck Todd’s interview as I watched, agape, aghast, and alarmed, acrimoniously ululating at my television set, my yawp almost as intolerable as the neurosurgeon’s anesthetic-less, publicly aimed lobotomy.
The most compelling moment of the interview occurred when Carson, poet that he is, drew a metaphor between slavery and abortion, paralleling abortion exceptions for rape and incest with apathy toward slavery. This is nothing new for the candidate; his somehow-no-longer-surprising rhetoric has been continually rife with slavery and holocaust comparisons (see: Obamacare is the worst thing in since slavery).
It seems that Carson draws these comparisons not because they are excellent examples, but because his wanton hyperbolic comparisons rile up his political base. In answering Todd’s question about abortion exceptions, Carson began, “During slavery — and I know that’s one of those words you’re not supposed to say, but I’m saying it…”
Ben Carson, you maverick!
The counterpoint is easy: you can say slavery, but if you are going to compare something with one of the great injustices in human history, it better be pretty damn awful. And yet, by showing his indignation towards others’ indignation at his slavery metaphors, Carson draws more support from a base that is currently being chased by the Boogeyman of Political Correctness. He has taken upon the fictitious mantle of rebel-who-says-whatever-he-wants-as-a-means-of-political-dissent. In reality, he says these things because he is either woefully misinformed, an asshole, or a much better politician than many have assumed.
Whichever it is, it is working. And it is terrifying.
If Carson’s support doesn’t go elsewhere soon, we should start preparing for the end times; after all, he could be the worst thing since slavery.