16 November 2014

Ben Carson: Gay Rights Are Non-Issue

Ben Carson
Early in November 2014, Dr. Ben Carson, who recently left his job at Fox News to launch his unofficial presidential campaign, sat down with Larry King for an extended interview. During the discussion, the famous surgeon shared what appeared to be the general American view on same-sex marriage.

Asked by King if he thinks gay marriage should be considered a "civil rights issue," Carson responded, "For me, it’s not a big issue."

"You know, I think any people can do anything they want to do," he continued. "It’s just that they don’t get to redefine everything for anybody else. So I’m very much a libertarian in the sense of believing ‘live and let live,’ but that goes in both directions and some people don’t recognize that."

Twitter was abuzz and flooded by favourable reaction from conservative Americans, who overwhelmingly drowned a few and isolated resentment from the long forgotten relic of the past, the lesbian and gay community.

However, perhaps even more revealing than the favorable reaction was the composition of those who reacted.

Instead of the well-known GOP activists who typically support such strong statement of independence, tweets of support from the center-leaning voters dominated the Carson reaction. These were people who had become familiar with the retired pediatric neurosurgeon through his regular appearances on The Fox News Channel and his best-selling book. And, by and large, they were not long-time participants in state politics.

That reaction has been a common one following Carson’s public engagements around the nation this year. In Iowa and the other early-voting states, in particular, it is Carson’s ability to draw from a new herd of caucus-goers and primary voters that makes him a potential presidential candidate to watch, despite his glaring vulnerabilities.

A rhetorical missile-launcher in human form, who has never before run for public office, Carson is easy to dismiss as a serious contender. But already a hero among grassroots conservatives who hold outsized influence in the early GOP nominating process, Carson’s capacity to make significant noise in 2016 should not be overlooked.

The political newcomer was long renowned in the medical field for being the first surgeon to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head (and was even played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in a made-for-TV movie). But as recently as two years ago, he did not amount to even a blip on the presidential radar screen.

That all changed in February 2013, when Carson earned a chorus of adulation from the right after outlining his black-and-white principles on various hot-button issues at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington – with President Barrack Obama sitting just a few feet away.

Since then, a growing stream of grassroots conservatives have discovered something they love in Carson’s unique political potion, which combines three core ingredients: a compelling life story, his unimpeachable credentials as a political outsider and a blunt approach to speechifying, all refracted through his reserved, soft-spoken personality. (There may be an unspoken fourth ingredient – that Carson is an African-American conservative.)