YORBA LINDA - Retired Seventh-day Adventist neurosurgeon prospective Republican White House candidate Dr. Benjamin Carson practiced what may become his campaign stump speech in front of a supportive crowd at the Nixon Presidential Library on Sunday. While Dr. Carson made no mention of his faith tradition, he sprinkled his prepared comments with references to God. The event was part of Carson's One Nation book tour.
"Interestingly enough, when I retired last year, I thought that life was going to be peaceful," Carson began, to appreciative laughter. "But the Good Lord had a different plan for me," he said. The crowd cheered loudly.
Speaking to a large crowd in the Nixon Library ballroom, Carson said that the Affordable Care Act caught his attention, "Because," he asked "what is one of the most important things that a person has?" "Their health!" the crowd responded.
Carson said that unbeknownst to many, Richard Nixon "had a wonderful health care program that he wrote extensively about," adding that "before Ted Kennedy died, he said one of his big regrets was not supporting that program." Carson said that the last thing individuals should do is "put your health care in the hands of some faceless bureaucrat, who really, in many cases doesn't even care about you."
Carson offered his own proposal for providing Americans with health care--a health savings account for each American, "even the most indigent people in our society" that can be funded "in a number of ways." Carson did not elaborate on what those ways would be. But because individuals would manage their accounts rather than a governmental agency, Carson said his health savings accounts would be free from "bureaucratic overload." Carson depicted his proposal as a free-market model that would be available across state lines, and would get rid of the "two-tiered system" responsible for disparities in care. "We wanna put the constitution back on the top shelf," Carson said in an appeal to those who believe President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act is unconsitutional. The line drew more loud cheers.
"The vast majority of Americans acutally have common sense," Carson said. "The problem is that they've been beaten into submission between the PC Police and the Mainstream Media."
Carson tackled the question of America's national religion: "The President of the United States has said that this is not a Judeo-Christian nation," Carson said. "But he doesn't get to decide that." More applause. "We get to decide what our values are," Carson told the crowd.
Carson called on his listeners to help turn out the vote. "People can only exercise their power when they are well-informed. Our government is supposed to conform to the will of the people, and not the other way around," Carson said, and the crowd cheered.
Referencing the words of Thomas Jefferson, Carson said that when things get bad, people will go to sleep. But when things get really bad, he said, people will wake up. "Well guess what. It's time to wake up," Carson said. The crowd roared its approval. "God gave us brains so that we could think for ourselves," Carson said. "Amen!" said crowd members amid cheers.
After speaking for about ten minutes, Carson took two questions from the audience. The first came from a ten-year old boy who asked Carson, "What can I do to become a brain surgeon and lead the country like you're going to?"
"The real key is education," Carson said in response to the boy's question. Noting his upbringing in poverty, Carson said that he hated poverty. "I was sure there was some mistake, and I was born into the wrong family," he said. Carson said that what he had as a child was of prime importance to him: "A mother that would not be a victim." His mother made him read books, Carson said, and he hated it. But in the process of reading books about accomplished individuals, Carson says that he learned the person most responsible for one's happiness "is you!"
After taking one more question, Carson exited the ballroom to a backdrop set up in an adjacent museum, where he posed for photographs and signed free copies of his One Nation book. If Carson does make a bid for the White House in 2016, and all indicators point to this likelihood, his views on God, education and health care will enter the national political discourse. Time will tell what other plans the Good Lord has for Ben Carson.
Jared Wright is Spectrum's managing editor.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6348