Todd Wolfrum
Todd Wolfrum

If he runs in 2016, Ben Carson will be the first presidential candidate since George Washington who can put “performed miracles” on his resume. Washington pulled off the impossible by winning the American Revolution. Carson’s miracles came in the world of brain surgery back in the 1980s.

The movie Gifted Hands, a biopic starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., captures Carson’s rise from poverty and ignorance in 1960s Detroit. Carson’s mother, who saw her sons failing in school but could not even read herself, turned young Ben’s life around when she shut off the television and made him and his older brother start reading two books a week. The track from there to performing unimagined procedures on the operating table and saving the lives of children makes for a good flick.

Carson is being recruited by an element in the Republican Party to run for the highest office in the world in 2016. According to his last two books, “America the Beautiful” (2012) and “One Nation” (last month), this could be problematic. Carson is a professed independent who identifies bipartisan rancor as one of our country’s defining problems. In short, he’s not your typical party-line candidate and won’t be. If he decides to run as a Republican, it will be on his own terms.

Republicans, at least conservative Republicans, should be able to live with that. Carson worships in the temple of logic. Although in his books he repeatedly emphasizes how everyone needs to examine both sides of any argument, whenever he applies reason to a current issue, he lands squarely in the conservative camp. One could say he’s right-thinking.

In fact, the problem with a Carson candidacy may be his love of meditative deduction. The American public long ago abandoned logic in its politics. We like to applaud, not think, at the end of a politician saying something. Mostly, we already have our minds made up and just want someone to say what we’re already thinking. It’s too early to tell if Carson will be able to maintain the soft-spoken, patient approach that he now takes with the media after the media, which never much cares for long-term reasoned approaches, turns on him, and it will.

He advocates cutting corporate tax rates (America has the highest in the world) to spur economic growth. He advocates self-reliance and not handouts to eliminate poverty. He advocates what amounts to a flat tax on income. He also strongly advocates against Obamacare. What he does that Republicans haven’t been able to do is provide a viable alternative. His plan highlights expanded Health Savings Accounts to encourage patient responsibility and government-funded medical school for aspiring doctors – his closest thing to a liberal proposal. As a surgeon, he knows that tort reform is an absolute must.

To balance the budget, he proposes an across the board cut in every federal agency of 10%. If that doesn’t fix it, another 10% cut the next year. That would be a practical way to get there and force tough decisions on the people who are supposed to be making them instead of on the next two or three generations.

Carson brings what few other conservatives can: street cred. As an African-American from Detroit, he may say many of the same things Mitt Romney said, but no minority from the inner city gave a flying expletive what Romney ever had to say about anything – they tuned out at “I’m Mitt Romn-.” Romney was a good guy and did his mission work, and, most importantly, was right in his arguments. But he never lived in hopeless poverty.

And although Bill Cosby has been preaching self-reliance and the value of the traditional family to the African-American community for years, there is still a “yeah, but” attitude when the likes of Cosby, people with extraordinary talent, say it. Might as well be Michael Jordan saying that if you just work hard, you can be like Mike. (But what if I can’t jump?) Carson’s life is on display and it’s something real - start by reading two books a week.

Carson experienced racism when racism wasn’t taboo and he doesn’t hold grudges about it, at least not outwardly. In 2012, President Obama got 100 percent of the vote in some all black districts. Carson v. Hillary – those districts are up for grabs. And as a man of a more accepted faith, the Evangelicals who stayed home rather than vote for a Mormon would be out in full force for Carson. Further, I would wager that over 95 percent of the people who voted for Mitt would also vote for Ben.

It may take someone with these kinds of credentials to do some of the things that obviously need done and someone of Carson’s intellect to do other things that aren’t so obvious. If he does run, he will be coming at a perfect time for conservatism. After an eight-year experiment with socialism, America will be primed for the opposite. Take the time to read his books and watch his movie – this might be the guy who could save us all.

(This and other Wolfrum columns can be read at toddwolfrum.com)