Carson knows that with the right mindset, anything is possible
© Getty Images

Today’s society is fixated on “gotcha moments,” sound bites, and headlines to formulate opinions. Instead of being impartial to the information we receive, many people are subjective instead of objective. Disregarding intent and opting to haphazardly formulate opinions lead to biases based off of fallacies and incomplete information. Not only is this dangerous in politics, but it has set a precedent for what has become an unfortunate norm in today’s society.

During my time working with Dr. Carson as a presidential candidate and as his communications director after his campaign, there is no doubt in my mind that he cares about bettering people’s lives. He is someone who has dedicated his life as a renowned neurosurgeon doing just that, and while some don’t always agree with his delivery and rightfully so, his heart is always in the right place.


He is a brilliant man, who like many of the people who now rely on the agency he heads, want’s nothing more than to foster an environment that allows those people to achieve as he would say, “all that God has created them to be.” I will be the first to admit that Dr. Carson is not a politician who always thinks about the political implications of his words. Instead, he speaks truth to power, and while that truth may sometimes be masked in complexity, it is the intent of his statement that should capture our focus.


Dr. Carson stated, “I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind,” and there is much truth in that statement. Dr. Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford University and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, argues that a person’s mindset is critical to a person success, regardless of where they come from, and that is exactly the point Dr. Carson was attempting to make.

Like many of us, Dr. Carson recognizes that there are great odds stacked against Americans living in poverty, including lower access to quality education, safe communities, quality healthcare, transportation — the list goes on. However, adding more money to fix those problems will not completely remedy the situation of those living under such harsh conditions. We must also focus on the changing the mindset.

A person’s mindset is critically important to how an individual views himself or herself and his or her abilities. I believe the point Dr. Carson was attempting to articulate was that if a person does not believe they can live beyond their current environment, it is extremely difficult to help them. And that is generally true. If you do not believe in yourself, it is hard to better yourself.

I am reminded of Plato’s theory of forms and his allegory of the cave, in part because a person born into poverty views their current reality as the only reality they are able to attain. However, it takes not only greater resources but also a change in the person’s mindset to move beyond their current condition.

In typical political fashion, Dr. Carson’s statements were completely overblown. Could he have articulated things better? Sure. But the premise of his point is valid. We must do more to help people climb out of poverty, and that will take a combination of private, public partnerships to increase resources as well as changing the people's mindset.

As a society, we must concern ourselves with real issues and cease our appetite for things not even worthy of being considered news. We should save our staunch rebuke for things that actually warrant them, and Dr. Carson’s statement does not even come close to qualifying for that category.

Shermichael Singleton is a Republican political consultant. He's worked on the presidential campaigns of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, and most recently Ben Carson, serving as his coalition’s adviser. Follow him on Twitter @Shermichael_.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.