What the GOP Can Learn from Dr. Benjamin Carson

Dr. Benjamin Carson, a recognized pioneer and expert in neurosurgery, spoke at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast. President Obama was in attendance. Dr. Carson’s remarks are getting a lot of attention. We can thank Al Gore for that since he was the one who invented the Internet. We’re now able to do an end-run around the establishment media.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the good doctor is presidential material. While Dr. Carson probably will not run for President, he offers some good lessons for Republicans to follow:

First, speaking the truth is required even if it offends people. There is a difference between being offensive and offending someone because of differences of policies. There are right and wrong policies. Liberals have made a disagreement over policy an offense in and of itself, and doubly so if a minority introduces it. Dr. Carson dismissed such a notion:

“It’s not my intention to offend anyone. But it’s hard not to. The PC police are out in force everywhere.”

He didn’t care if what he said offended people, and that included the President of the United States. As a Christian, Dr. Carson knows that President Obama is under God’s authority. And while we are called on to pray for the President and others holding governmental positions, we are not required to agree with the President’s policies if they are wrong.

The Constitution also guarantees us that right. The First Amendment makes it clear in four different ways: press, speech, assembly, and petition.

Second, when outlining a policy, keep it simple. Republicans are in need of speech coaches. Most people think in terms of contrasts. In a few paragraphs, Dr. Carson outlined easily understood ways to fix the tax code and healthcare. Anybody listening to him could understand him. He didn’t need charts or use political gobbledygook.

Third, the liberal establishment is a barometer of a conservative’s message. Democrat Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) criticized Dr. Carson’s comments as “not really an appropriate place to make this kind of political speech, and to invoke God as support for that kind of view.” For liberals, conservatives can pray all they want; they’re just not allowed to act on those prayers. Only liberal religionists are permitted to act on their religious beliefs.

Keeping Christians from being involved beyond the church building and Sunday worship hour is a common liberal theme. I’ve kept the following quotation in my files since I first saw it published in 1986.

“That [Christians] may rant and rave against humanism and feminism and any other ‘ism’ on Sunday, but come Monday the children belong in school.” ((Rheta Grimsley Johnson, “‘People’ vs. fundamentalists,” The Marietta Daily Journal (September 2, 1986), 4A.))

Os Guinness described this as “The Private-Zoo Factor.” ((Os Guinness, The Gravedigger File: Papers on the Subversion of the Modern Church (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1983), 79.)). It’s OK to look at, but don’t ever let it out.

One might even be able to make the case that the Russian church’s lack of social involvement had a part to play in the 1917 revolution that led to religious and political oppression and the spread of Communism around the world.

“It is a sad but irrefutable fact that the Russian Orthodox Church at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution was engaged in a fruitless attempt to preserve its religious treasures (chalices, vestments, paintings, icons, etc.) and was therefore unable to relate meaningfully to the tremendous social upheavals then taking place.” ((Donald G. Bloesch, Crumbling Foundations: Death and Rebirth in an Age of Upheaval (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 30.))

Liberals don’t care if we guard our religious treasures to the neglect of everything else. What they don’t want us to care for is the application of religion to public policy, unless, of course, they can find a way to use it for their liberal agenda. “[W]here religion still survives in the modern world, no matter how passionate or ‘committed’ the individual may be, it amounts to little more than a private preference, a spare-time hobby, a leisure pursuit.” ((Guinness, The Gravedigger File, 72.)) Theodore Roszak used an apt phrase to describe much of modern-day Christendom: “Socially irrelevant, even if privately engaging.” ((Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends (New York: Doubleday, 1973), 449.)) And that’s the way liberals want to keep it.

Fourth, Dr. Carson pointed out that it’s not enough to be against a policy; there must be an alternative. “I don’t like to bring up problems without coming up with solutions.” People get tired of hearing people only saying what they’re against.

Fifth, the solutions offered don’t always have to be government solutions. Dr. Carson hosed that policy changes can actually shrink the authority and power of the State.

So if the GOP wants to get back in the political game, then it will need to take some coaching from the good example of Dr. Benjamin Carson.