Dr. Ben Carson has been on the rise, this week posting poll numbers that have him increasing his ranking by double digits since the last debate. Again, it has left Washington insiders scratching their heads wondering how another outsider, even though he was a brilliant physician, has been able to connect with the American people in such a way that gives them faith that Carson, with no previous governing experience, could lead our country.
While the political class is finally getting why Donald Trump is on top, they can’t make sense of Carson. But to put it quite simply, as one politically savvy Texan did, Trump and Carson are “two sides of the same coin.” And he is right.
When talking with folks in the heartland about Carson and asking why this outsider and not the others, it was clear. Carson is Trump but a measured, more even-keeled version. As one friend put it, he is “peaceful but strong.” Carson and Trump are both outsiders, successful in their respected professions and they both hate big government.
Trump and Carson, while alike but different, are just like two other potential rivals in this race, Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden. While little separates them on the policy front, they are miles apart on style.
In effort to translate Carson’s appeal to the insiders, here are some of the comments from his supporters in the flyover states. These comments not only shed light, but really drive home what this election is going to be about: authenticity, relatability, and compentency.
Carson has that “just like me”:
“He is a normal guy. He’s had to work everyday. Just like me. He understands my and my family’s daily struggles. He’s intelligent but doesn’t gloat or make me feel stupid. He’s not a politicain and has no ties to Washington.”
“He believes in a culture of personal responsibilty and not dependency. That responsibility extends itself to healthcare.”
“He never plays the race card.”
A man of faith:
“He leads from his knees and is family oriented. In a society where Christianity, or any religion for that matter, is shamed, it’s nice to have a leader who turns to God for wisdom. Our country was founded on Christian principles, and I believe Dr. Carson can help us return there.”
Carson’s intelligence isn’t lost on anyone. The word “brilliant” came up for nearly everyone. His neurosurgeon’s background highlights the “thoughtful and methodical” approach he would bring to the office. As an overwhelming majority of Americans feel our government is failing them and have little faith in the system, this quality is highly attractive, especially when facing opponents who have been a part of the government for so long.
While there has been growing support of Carson, there are those still on the fence. These folks really like Carson but hesitate:
“He is very smart and a good man, but I feel right now we need a little more of a hot headed bully to make the turn before a strong softer spoken leader….”
And a final common comment I heard:
“I like Ben Carson. He’s a brilliant man. However, his lack of governing experience may be problematic. And, I wonder just how tough he would be.”
In their own words, these voters from Oklahoma and Texas have explained the appeal and the hesitation about Dr. Ben Carson. Maybe their words will answer some of the questions arising from his recent momentum.