September Is All Set to Be Ben Carson Month

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Donald Trump’s moment in the spotlight is up. He won’t go gently into that good night, but go he will. The big question at this point is who will replace him as the tea party’s temporary favorite? The answer appears to be Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who made a name for himself among conservatives with a speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. Here’s a short excerpt:

The PC police are out in force at all times….We’ve got to get over this sensitivity….what we need to do in this PC world is forget about unanimity of speech and unanimity of thought….PC is dangerous….one last thing about political correctness, which I think is a horrible thing, by the way….I’m not politically correct….

Do you notice a trend? Carson also talked about HSAs (a replacement for Obamacare) and tithing (a 10 percent flat tax) and the deficit (bad) and education (good) and moral decay (ruined the Roman empire) and, yes, even mentioned God a few times. But political correctness is his real schtick, and he hates it even more than Trump.

But why? Since Carson seems set to become the Next Big Thing, Ed Kilgore decided to explain him to us. In the first GOP debate, Carson made mention of the “Alinsky Model,” which enjoyed a brief vogue among conservatives a few years ago and then sort of disappeared from sight. Kilgore takes off from there:

The “Alinsky Model” is a dog whistle to a certain breed of conspiracy minded hard-core conservative, as is the identification of [Hillary] Clinton with the “secular progressive movement.” Both are references some might recognize from Glenn Beck’s many discourses, and both are meant to describe people who are actively and consciously working through deceit to enslave if not destroy (Carson’s word) America. The Alinsky Model’s main weapon, according to most aficionados of this sort of thinking, is “political correctness,” which happens to be Dr. Ben Carson’s favorite phrase for everything he is fighting against.

….The more you listen to Carson talking about “political correctness,” the more it becomes obvious he’s not attacking college speech codes or disputes over racial or ethnic or gender terms, but liberal elite mockery of right-wing conspiracy theories….In this context, it becomes clear that Carson’s occasional “gaffes” aren’t really accidents, but what he believes: Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery; Obama might be planning to cancel elections; Democrats are opening the borders to bring in immigrants who will increase the welfare population and thus keep Democrats in power. Even though these are not unusual beliefs in the fever swamps of the far right, they are exotic for a major-party presidential candidate.

….And there’s something extra special about an African-American preemptively labeling suspected incidents of racism and sexism as mere political incorrectness, which he then defends as essential free speech! Let it rip!

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your next man of the moment. Like Trump, he specializes in mood affiliation politics: nice, easy, common-sense solutions to all our problems, without bothering to explain how any of this stuff can actually work. Unlike Trump, he has a very calm demeanor. So if you like your third-grade comfort food politics with a side of bombast, Trump is your guy. But if you like it smooth and affable, Carson is. Take your pick.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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