Ben Carson’s irresponsible rhetoric is not conservative

ben carson1 Peter 1:22 says, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” To me, this verse captures the ethos of true conservatism: obedience to the truth. Sincere love means truthful love that doesn’t sugarcoat or sell out to political correctness. I don’t always agree with conservatives about what constitutes obedience to the truth, but I very much respect this basic posture of integrity. Having said that, it would be disobedient to the truth not to name Ben Carson’s rhetoric at the Value Voters Summit this week as tremendously irresponsible and dangerous to genuine conservatism.

Here’s what Carson said:

I have to tell you, you know Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is slavery in a way because it is making all of us subservient to the government. It was never about health care, it was about control. That’s why when this administration took office it didn’t matter that the country was going off the cliff economically.  All forces were directed toward getting this legislation passed… Vladimir Lenin, one of the fathers of Socialism and Communism, said that socialized medicine is the keystone to the establishment of the socialist state.

Whatever is wrong with Obamacare, it is disobedient to the truth to call it “socialized medicine” and insinuate that its purpose is to make America into a Communist state. The state-level health care exchanges give people choices between private health insurance options. There is no public option. The reason for making health insurance mandatory for everyone is so that sick people with preexisting conditions who hadn’t been able to get health insurance before won’t make the premiums skyrocket. The “individual mandate” idea was originally proposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation in the late 1980’s.

It’s fine to have all sorts of criticisms about Obamacare, but comparing it to slavery is ridiculous and despicable. And just because Ben Carson is black doesn’t mean that he should get away with it. I wrote earlier this week how people in my generation are not even able to hear or consider rationally the actual ideas that conservatives are putting forward. It’s because of rhetoric like this.

It really is a sad thing because there are so many good people in our country who are real conservatives with ideas which aren’t scary crazy. I was having an email conversation with someone from my church who shared with me some ideas from a conservative politician about how to address issues of social inequity. And I actually agreed with a lot of them. Not all of them. But they certainly weren’t scary or crazy. I thought this guy is someone I could have a reasonable conversation with. And I was really surprised to learn that he had been the chief of staff for Rick Santorum.

When people like Ben Carson are making irrational hyperbolic comparisons between efforts to get health care for uninsured people and slavery, you can’t blame that on liberal media spin. Red meat may fire up an activist core who want to believe that the other side is utterly diabolical, but there’s nothing conservative about playing fast and loose with the truth. And it’s a huge turn-off to people who care about the truth whatever their political views are.

This is why I really appreciate people like my friend Alan Noble who edits the Christ and Pop Culture blog on Patheos. Alan is a true conservative and a very thoughtful and compassionate Christian. He’s willing to stick his neck out and take some flak for denouncing people who are supposedly on his side that are not being truthful. He runs a weekly column called Citizenship Confusion that raises importing challenging questions about some of the things that conservative Christians are being told they should support. I hope that more conservatives like Alan will be willing to take a stand, so that somehow someday our society might be able to have rational, respectful political conversation.

46 thoughts on “Ben Carson’s irresponsible rhetoric is not conservative

  1. The Doctor told the truth. Of course the administration and its cabal of operatives find that inconvenient. So, they and their supporters decry that truth as brutal, unfair, etc., etc., etc., . Now, the political operatives who support the current administration will decry his brutal, ad nauseam and ad infinitum. They are nothing more than thieves. They put their hands in the pockets of their children and grand-children and steal their future. They are quite willing to live high and party hard while their children and grandchildren are left to pay the bill. And they call it fair? If as some of those liberals suppose it takes a village… then the village is now now sacrificing the future of the children for the current benefit of those who have already wasted and splurged their own incomes and savings. They are like someone who is addicted to credit cards. They load themselves down with debt. And then they shovel the cost of their own lifestyle onto the shoulders of those who have no voice or vote in the matter.

  2. A politician exaggerating? NO WAY!

    Sounds like every statement that is released out of Washington these days. All flair, no substance.

    It’s not just one party doing it. Everyone is doing it.

  3. It hurts a bit to hear all this talk about socialism and communism, as if these economic forms of social organization are synonymous with satanic worship. I try to follow the example set by Jesus and that has led me to become a Methodist. When I do it, I find glory. But my starting point from the age of 19 to the age of 54 was as a socialist. I denounced both Democrats and Republicans. I am not a socialist anymore, but it wasn’t the end of all intelligent life that you all think it was. Why I am not a socialist anymore is another story. What I can’t understand is the hatred for the idea of shared abundance. That is, after all, the whole idea behind socialism. What if we all agreed to work for each other and share the fruits of all our labor? That is a good idea; a society based on love for one another., At least it’s not based on greed and fear, which, from where I sit, are the two motivating factors in capitalism.
    I pray the Lord’s prayer a lot these days, and the part I like best is Jesus’ statement of intent: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth.” You all act like that order isn’t even in there. It is not wishful thinking. It is a call to action. Do you think that’s going to happen under capitalism?
    So what if we haven’t evolved to the point where we need to be for God’s Kingdom to rule us all yet? I believe Jesus when he says that’s where He is leading us. And he doesn’t want us to wish for it. He wants us to do it. Jesus calls us to be more sharing, more giving, more serving. What would St. Francis say to hear you all!

      • That’s why I am not a Socialist anymore. The question is, is that the only way what Jesus called for will take place? I don’t think so. I remember what I learned when I was a Socialist; that states serve classes. Is that to be denied? Do you honestly think that the United States does not serve the rich? Socialist states have always ended up replacing the rich with bureaucratic despotism. So are we to chose which satan we worship? Two false idols have captured us. I believe that Jesus Christ has the power to change our hearts. I also believe that through Christ the human race is advancing. It’s not in a straight line, I agree. But Jesus is now the most famous person that ever lived, and if we keep going, Jesus will transform this planet. This is the reason to live. (For me, at least.)

  4. I have attended Dr. Carson’s speeches. He does many of his talks at schools to encourage children to not give up. He is very well versed in Black History, contributions blacks have made and never been given credit for and he is a very smart compassionate man.

    Obama Care is a “TAX’ period.
    That is what the Supreme Court ruled.
    Wait till people get this bill.
    The poor are going to love it.
    The working class making over $50,000.00 a year are going to go into shock.
    Just one more instance where the church and public at large JUMP on an issue before they check the details and facts.

  5. Somebody help me out here: 1) Obamacare (all 27,000 pages of it) was crafted by the for-profit-healthcare-industry-titans-on-Wall Street. 2) When it passed, the closing bell on Wall Street clanged louder than usual and they popped the corks on the Dom Perignon.
    3) The poorest of the poor are still not covered nor can they afford the premiums, and the harried middle class (what’s left of it) will have their premiums escalate without mercy.

    My question for conservatives (Carson included) is this:
    What’s not to like? The unregulated free-market is still king pit bull. Is it a question of ideological purity in the tea party faction?

    • Look at the figures.
      Expect to pay 8.37% of your income for healthcare. The exception is if your employer helps offset some of the costs or you are exempt because you are a Federal Employee.
      Here is how the calculation might work for a 40-year-old individual making $30,000 a year:
      Estimated benchmark premium for a 40-year old = $3,857 per year (which will vary from area to area)
      Person is responsible for paying 8.37% of their income = $2,512
      Tax credit = $1,345

      Individuals with incomes over about $45,000.00 do not get the tax credit and must pay the full cost.

      You can use this link to estimate your costs.
      http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/

      • That’s fine. Is it being a person of integrity to compare Obamacare with slavery and insinuate that it is a Leninist conspiracy? If not, it doesn’t matter what Ben Carson has done to inspire kids, etc. He failed to be a genuine conservative on this point. If being a stickler for the truth doesn’t matter as long as you’re on the “right side,” then you’ve lost your soul.

    • See my prior post. It’s because Obama is starting from the “wrong” worldview from the perspective of evangelicals who believe in worldviewism so anything he proposes is not only wrong but utterly satanic even if it’s an idea which originated with the Heritage Foundation which is where the basic principles of ObamaCare came from.

  6. Have you read Tom Daschle’s book? Obviously not. Maybe you’d believe it if you heard it from a Dem at the front line of the government’s deep desire to take over healthcare.

  7. Morgan, I don’t get you on this one at all. The ethos of conservatism is obedience to the truth? Where did that come from? Reading that jarred me. I’m sorry to say this as I like so much of your writing, but it is a serious abuse of 1 Peter to ally it to conservatism (or any other ideology for that matter). The truth and love Peter describes are the truth and love of Christ Jesus; their application is universal, not sectarian.
    Conservatism is a mindset, a set of values, not one that I share but I can respect someone who argues for it with integrity. Individual conservatives may be loyal to the truth, as may individual liberals or socialists, but surely no political ideology has a greater claim to truth than its opponents?

    • I’m not saying that conservatives have a monopoly on the truth but if there’s one positive thing I can say about the true conservatives that I know it’s that they value integrity. And so “conservatives” who don’t don’t deserve to be called conservatives.

      • It’s good when anyone values (and practices) integrity, and it’s good to know people who do. I don’t see it as a defining characteristic of conservatism though, either per se or in comparison to others. But I suppose conservatives / socialists / environmentalists / scientists / lawyers / humanitarians / atheists and (especially?) Christians must have integrity to be called “true”.

  8. I’m gonna disagree with the assertion that Dr Carson’s remarks aren’t conservative, though, Morgan. They may not be thoughtful, considerate, truthful. But they fit well into the conservative mainframe.

  9. I always appreciate respectful debate, but when someone pulls the “God is on my side card” by plainly stating that I am dishing up misinformation (simply because I come down on a different side of the healthcare debate than you) and that I am storing up judgment for myself because of my position, you have arrived at the height of arrogance. So like they say on Shark Tank, because of this – I’m out.

      • Where did that come from? Sometimes people choke on political red meat. I am used to right-wing fundamentalists using 1 Peter to blast their political and religious opponents. Watching liberal fundamentalists wield the same cudgels is something new.

        • So you don’t evaluate the substance of my claim at all and just attack me for the mere act of critiquing. You would say then that it’s legitimate to compare Obamacare and slavery?

          • Where do you think I could have framed things differently? I want to communicate more effectively.

          • Ask your for a rural appointment. Your communication skills and cross cultural competency will markedly improve somewhere in Southside Virginia.

          • That still doesn’t answer my question in the immediate context. You said I was being a “liberal fundamentalist” and you said it wasn’t what I said but how I said it, so for that feedback to be useful to me, I need to know what the trigger was in what I wrote that made you say that.

    • For what it’s worth, I wasn’t referring to you. I was talking about the made-up stuff like death panels and so forth. It’s a sin that makes God no less angry than fornication or abusing drugs when the people on Fox news make stuff up and broadcast it widely.

  10. Thanks for the serving of more political red meat, although I have learned from the past two blog posts how to define evangelical and conservative.

  11. Amen, Morgan! Unfortunately, in today’s world, there seems to be an absence of nuance and facts in political discourse. One fact that always strikes me is the one that shows just how poorly our health system is performing compared to other nations. Certainly, infant mortality rates are a key indicator of the health of a nation, and we rank last among industrialized nations.

    I find the rabid fear of socialism quite odd, especially when you consider that early church members often lived in communities where they shared everything–a far cry from American individualism. I certainly gives me pause.

    Being an African American, I find Ben Carson’s equating the Affordable Care Act to slavery abhorrent. Rampant acts of terror, rape, lynchings, and millions of bodies at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, simply cannot be compared (I am reminded of Clarence Thomas’ “high-tech lynching” comment.). Yes, it is bearing false witness and an egregious false equivalency. Of course, let’s consider all the lives that have been lost due to the fact that our current system is broken; we don’t hear about that.

    Much of what I hear that passes for discourse betrays an idolatrous notion of America that bears little resemblance to anything I can imagine when I think of a “Christian nation”–a vision were the “leasts” have enough, but it seems like any notion of distributive justice is too much for many to swallow. Truly sad!

    • All that compassionate sounding care of the New Testament church in Jerusalem where they lived in community and had everything in common is a perfect example of why socialism doesn’t work. They went broke because many of their congregates started just sucking off the community tit and the rich churches in the surrounding areas had to support them. You don’t have to look very hard to see the clear parallels to the welfare system of today and the likely outcome of healthcare being added to the community pot. It will break us and everybody will look deeper into the pockets of the rich to pay “their fair share”. Socialism will only work in heaven where our character has been transformed to be like Christ’.

  12. Morgan, great post. I like your comment about bearing false witness and spreading misinformation about Obamacare are storing up wrath for themselves. Sadly, people don’t take the time to understand things for themselves and blindly buy into whatever people like Carson they seem to like. Now I am sure there are problems with Obamacare. I don’t understand why there is not a focus on fixing what is believed to be wrong instead of killing the whole thing. The Carson’s of the world don’t pay attention to the stories of those that have been desperate to get insurance, and now are in the process of getting it. People with children…people with health issues…people that are poor. The prosperity gospel that has infected this country has made may Christians forget about the poor, so they of course oppose Obamacare and anything Obama tries to accomplish.

  13. I think to control the capacity and freedom of access to something as necessary for life as healthcare by a government that has proven incapable of doing right by so many people is on par with controlling the capacity and freedom of an individual to pursue life – yes I believe this is a great evil wrapped up in nice sounding “compassionate” words.

    • As a Scot, the widespread antipathy I read of in America to health care leaves me totally baffled. The British National Health Service is probably the most valued institution in our country, and rightly so. Even Margaret Thatcher had to declare that “the National Health Service is safe with us” when there was a fear that it might not be.
      I have to agree with you though that to control the capacity and freedom of access to health care is a bad thing. So don’t let the insurance companies or the private sector control it. Let your government open it up, make it available to all.

  14. Ironically, you ‘got me’ on this one. Bishop Peter Story (of South Africa) made an interesting comment about how the U.S. political spectrum is missing its true Left-wing ~ I agreed with him when he said the Democrats were a moderate left, at best. He insisted that those voices were needed, even if they should not be dominant. Our country silenced that half of the spectrum but allowed Mr. Carson’s to remain intact.
    How you ‘got me’ was to remind me that a moderate conservative perspective is also an essential part of our spectrum — that the tact which some so-called “conservatives” does not represent all of the ‘right’-side of our spectrum. As a crossed-to-the-other-side Liberal (who embraced the label) I a, often too hard on anyone who identifies as ‘conservative’ the way I used to.

  15. You totally lost me on this one. Ben spoke truth that is consistent with almost every political relationship of influence who have been methodically embraced by Obama during his life. He has unabashedly embraced socialism his whole life and communicated during his original campaign that he planned on fundamentally changing America which he has had a measure of success in doing. To deny the socialistic/communistic influence in his life and his efforts to introduce those types of policies in America is to ignore myriads of corroborating evidence available if one is willing to stop listening only to the main stream media and research for oneself the facts.

    • jmobeox6, do you really believe Dr. Carson spoke truth when he said Obama Care is the worst thing that has happened in our country since slavery? To accept that as truth is to place Obama Care along side the loss of lives in wars, the terrorist attack, the assassination of presidents, the murders of civil rights activists in the 60’s, political corruption that actually resulted in politicians being convicted of their crimes, etc. and to conclude that Obama Care is worse than any of these.

      • I truly believe that if implemented as currently intended it will result in far more untimely deaths than could have ever been attributed to slavery due to the absolute control by government of health care. How can something that size have the capacity to care or be responsive to the needs of the individual? We truly become slaves to a monster that already eats our money, is changing our freedoms and will not think twice about denying you or your ailing parents the timely and necessary health care.

        • Love you brother but that is just out there. The people who have been bearing false witness and spreading misinformation about Obamacare “death panels” and so forth are storing up wrath for themselves just like any other sin. Time and time again, people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin have been caught lying and there have been no consequences. Ultimately the truth has to matter more than winning an argument.

          • The truth is out there for those willing to face it and open their eyes to it instead of embracing something that sounds so compassionate but lacks the basic elements of responsible conservatism. (Ben especially needs to read this part) Even the early church sounded great and compassionate when they sold all and had their money in common to give as there were needs. But then reality set in and even in that “nice Christian setting” people started taking advantage of getting their needs met without the responsibility that should accompany adult maturity. So even in the church in Jerusalem they finally had to institute the rule that if you don’t work you don’t eat. Wow, how harsh and uncompassionate (sarcasm). No, in fact it was caring to require people to be responsible and make their own way in life and not depend on the church or in this case the government for those freebees and handouts that have no requirements attached demanding responsibility. Embracing socialism in any form has the appearance of compassion but due to human nature has never succeeded in any society who has tried it. And if you really think that a single payer system is not what this is all about then you are not listening to the clearly spoken words of those promoting it when they have said over and over that they are disappointed that they were not able to get the single payer system right up front but that it will come. Here is a quote from Harry Reid

            “I was let down and I remain disappointed Democrats didn’t push harder for a public option. And I was also disheartened they didn’t at least start the conversation with single-payer. Yes, I realize the idea of a single-payer system was politically untenable, but then again, it’s up to Democrats, and more specifically liberals, to make a strong case for single-payer”.

            And if you are unwilling to consider all the evidence and horror stories out there as to the planned “death panels” little old me sure can’t change a mind that is closed except to that with which they already agree.
            And as it relates to Ben Carson, I have read the book that recounts his life and believe him to be a man who seeks God’s guidance and who has very intentionally become very well versed on Obama care (far more than you or me) and I trust his opinion to be honestly conveyed based on the character he has displayed over his life and to denigrate him the way you did does not do you justice.
            No one should own the right to enslave me to their opinion of what constitutes healthcare.

          • Time will tell who is misinforming who. But it will most certainly not be either you or me in the judgment seat saying for whom the wrath is stored up for.

    • So to you there is nothing wrong with saying that owning another human being is the same thing as a health insurance system?

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