The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.
Prior to becoming a presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson was a nationally recognized and respected neurosurgeon who sat on over fifteen corporate boards. He became a nationally recognized political figure after his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast where he criticized President Obama’s policies. Before he became a political figure, Dr. Ben Carson was known as an inspirational figure that would often speak to low income youth about his past to inspire them.
Ben Carson was a young boy who grew up without a father. He speaks about the impact of education on his life as a result of his mother’s constant persistence that he read a book each week. However, Dr. Carson says, he was a very angry young man who attacked his mother with a hammer one time and attempted to stab a friend of his another time. Given the way Dr. Ben Carson carries himself today, many found this so difficult to believe. Dr. Carson credits his faith in Jesus Christ for his radical conversion. As Dr. Carson grew older, he became the regional director of the ROTC in Detroit. Dr. Carson says that he was told that he would receive a full scholarship should he decide to apply to West Point, the most prestigious military university in the country. Instead, Dr. Carson says, that he applied to the only school he had the money to apply to which was Yale. At Yale, he began his journey to pursue a career in medicine.
Dr. Ben Carson, the second leading GOP candidate nationally, has been under mountains of pressure several times during his short political career. Whether it has been for his belief in traditional marriage, his faith, or his views on evolution; he ignites controversy despite the gentle and elegant way he expresses himself. This past week, Dr. Ben Carson has come under pressure for something else – his past. This week, Dr. Ben Carson has been questioned regarding his scholarship offer to West Point and the incident involving a friend that he reportedly attempted to stab.
Regarding the attempted stabbing, the media claims that the name he uses for the victim does not exist. This claim has been confirmed by the Carson campaign. However, the media claims that Carson uses a pseudonym because the victim does not want his identity revealed. The issue regarding his scholarship to West Point, which was written about in his book Gifted Hands, was that there isn’t any documented evidence of any scholarship. The media even argues that he never began an application so he could not have been offered a scholarship. Further, they argue that there is no such thing as a scholarship at West Point because tuition is free. The Carson campaign has fired back, claiming that his words never implied a scholarship was offered, and rather that he would have received one should he have decided to attend West Point. Further, they point to West Point’s website which also uses the terminology “scholarship” to reject the notion that they do not offer scholarships.
Although many believe that the media was going to shift public opinion regarding Dr. Ben Carson, all indications show that it will not. On the contrary, the media will not play a role in shaping people’s opinion of Dr. Carson. Dr. Carson calls the latest attacks on him a “witch hunt” on conservatives and cites the media’s complacency with Obama’s sealed academic records to back that up. This has resonated with the conservative base of the Republican Party. Several presidential candidates have come to Dr. Ben Carson’s defense. Even some media outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post have called out Politico and other media outlets for misrepresenting the facts.
By all indications, Dr. Ben Carson remains stable in the polls and has further solidified his base. Dr. Ben Carson’s social media base has grown, and he is drawing hundreds of thousands of views on his videos firing back at the media. Dr. Ben Carson’s campaign has sent out two clear messages to the media: we will not back down and thank you.
Joe Shashaty is a fourth-year political science student at Cal Poly Pomona.