Why is Ben Carson fading and Donald Trump rebounding?
The answers can be found in my new book Cycles of Change: The Three Great Cycles of American History & the Coming Crises That Will Lead to the Fourth. (Amazon-Kindle 2015)
Change has come to America. It is already here: Climate change, social change and political change.
The old answers no longer work. They no longer satisfy: People on the right and left alike demand new policies.
Trump recognizes this. Carson does not.
That is why Trump is still riding high in the polls and Carson is fading fast.
But David A. Graham, writing in The Atlantic on December 2, does not realize that serious issues and substantive differences are involved in this dynamic.
Graham is typical of the complacent and superficial mainstream media. He reduces Trump to a personality, an emotional phenomenon, and he sets a superficial interesting but utterly false parallel between Trump’s appeal and Carson’s.
“Two outsider candidates, atypical presidential contenders with no debt to the traditional party structure, little interest in old-fashioned political pieties, and no practical experience in either campaigning or policymaking.”
Wow! How profound! Is this what passes for serious thinking at The Atlantic these days?
Yes. It is.
What is important is the striking differences between Trump and Carson – not their similarities.
Trump is angry, abusive and insulting. When attacked, he strikes back. He is the kind of man who would never be invited to a Georgetown dinner party: Except he would own all of the self-important, preening little puffed-up frogs carefully cultivating their stale witticisms at all those dinner parties.
Far more important – Trump raises serious issues. He challenges the liberal-faux conservative free trade consensus across America. He rejects the advocates of unlimited military intervention around the globe. He believes America can and should reduce and seriously regulate its flow of immigrants. These are real policies. They are different.
Carson by contrast, when pushed, lazily echoes the conventional Republican Right on everything. Why is this?
It is because Carson is serene, complacent and extraordinarily intellectually lazy.
There are superficial and important parallels between him and Ronald Reagan in this regard. Reagan’s supreme self-possession and self-confidence were enormously reassuring to a worried, disoriented public from whom the American Dream had gone terribly wrong in the 17 years since John Kennedy had been assassinated.
But Reagan lived and breathed politics, policies and issues. His passion on this was the fundamental reason for the end of his first marriage to movie star Jane Wyman.
Reagan thought slowly and deep. He challenged easy, commonly-held intellectual assumptions. He looked for new answers and different ways to solve old problems.
Carson does not. He expresses simplistic views on the entire spectrum of issues. He always reduces complexities to simplicities. He never gets embarrassed or morally outraged or angry, except of course when it’s a lifetime of conditioned reflex for all those Big, Bad Liberal Atheists.
Tithing, the flat tax, put Putin in his place, demonize all Muslims, put China in its place, for Carson everything is either glowing white or darkest pitch black. It’s all so clear to him.
Carson’s bedside manner and sublime serenity played well for half a year as a contrast to Trump, especially as his style also carried subliminal echoes of Reagan – very important to middle aged and formerly middle class Republican primary voters.
But eventually even Carson had to put up or shut up. And it quickly became clear that on all issues, he hasn’t a clue. He can’t even obfuscate on outrageous positions the way successful Republican politicos learn to do with their mothers’ milk.
But Carson isn’t milk, he’s toast.
Martin Sieff is the author most recently of Cycles of Change: The Three Great Cycles of American History & the Coming Crises That Will Lead to The Fourth. (Amazon-Kindle 2015) and Gathering Storm : The Seventh Era of American History and the Coming Crises That Will Lead to It (Amazon-Kindle2015)
Martin Sieff is an editor at Sputnik, the Russian-owned news organization. He is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East (2008), Gathering Storm (2014) and Cycles of Change: The Three Great Eras of American History and the Coming Crisis that will Lead to the Fourth (2014). Follow Martin on: @MartinSieff