Carson’s indelible legacy won't be defaced by petty politics

Carson’s indelible legacy won't be defaced by petty politics
© Camille Fine

A recent report claimed that the people of Baltimore, Dr. Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonCarson's affordable housing idea drawing undue flak Overnight Energy: Trump EPA looks to change air pollution permit process | GOP senators propose easing Obama water rule | Green group sues EPA over lead dust rules Green group sues EPA over lead dust rules it says are too lax MORE’s long time home, have forsaken their local hero. That claim is wedge politics at its most cynical. Dr. Carson’s decades-long legacy of life-saving acts and groundbreaking medical brilliance will shine on despite recent attempts to besmirch his character. It is almost as if the people forgot how Dr. Carson’s Carson Scholar’s program has brought hope and continue educational opportunity to hundreds of inner city children across our nation. They forgot the literally thousands of lives Dr. Carson saved with his own hands as one of the world’s most accomplished and renowned neurosurgeons. Dr. Carson is without doubt a hero’s hero — one of the very few living people who deserve such a legacy.

Where do these political elites get off claiming otherwise? Carson has long extolled the virtues of self-reliance, moral striving and good character as the gateway out of poverty and into prosperity. Unlike many others who give mere lip service to plight of the poor and marginalized, Dr. Carson and his wife Candy have put their money where their mouth is. Dr. Carson sees education — not government handouts — as the key to social, economic and moral uplift for the masses of black people. It should come as no surprise that a man of demonstrated faith and compassion would take his job as the secretary of HUD seriously. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Despite the media’s attempt to portray Dr. Carson as a clueless buffoon in way over his head, since taking office at HUD, Carson methodically and deliberately studied the problem of housing the poor. He has looked at the long-term data and realized that generations of families have been essentially stuck in poverty, relying upon government services for subsistence rather than making choices and striving to achieve the American dream. Dr. Carson is heartfelt in his empathy for the plight of the poor. He aims to solve the problem of protracted poverty by offering a pathway toward prosperity.

 

The people speaking out against Carson know this, and many of them exemplify the ethic of striving for achievement in their own lives. Whether it is former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, who having worked closely with Dr. Carson while in office and afterwards and should know better; or the principal of the Archbishop Borders School in Baltimore who removed the portrait of Carson that hung in the school’s hallway — these people all have a political axe to grind. 

Nevertheless, their hollow protestations reveal more about their own political ambivalence than they say about Carson’s diminished image. They are unhappy about having been left out of the political gravy train, and are clamoring behind the scenes for a seat at the table. On the one hand, they despise people like Dr. Carson and Omarosa for having a seat at the table in the Trump administration, and on the other hand, they are envious because they feel left out. 

The reality of the situation is that Dr. Carson is making great strides toward leveraging the agency’s almost $50 billion dollar budget and sprawling, labyrinthine array of programs toward the singular objective of lifting people up from poverty. By proposing to raise rents in subsidized housing projects, Carson is signaling that residents should begin to get on the road to self-actualization and responsibility. He is not merely trying to streamline the agency, however. He is proposing a completely new perspective about the role of government as a lever for economic development in impoverished communities. 

Along those lines, he proposed Opportunity Zones, which is essentially a government tax credit that incentivizes business to develop projects and hire local citizens. Jobs, not handouts, are ultimately the key to eliminating poverty. As Dr. Carson stated earlier this year, “[Opportunity Zones] are an amazing vehicle for getting unrealized capital gains invested into areas of economic need ... these areas that are traditionally neglected suddenly have a lot of capital pouring into them. And we’re doing it in conjunction with the municipalities that we’re working in, trying to create holistic communities.”

Here Dr. Carson has laid out a brilliant new way for communities to begin to invest in their own salvation, and instead of focusing on this "amazing" opportunity and devising ways of taking advantage of it, local politicians remain fixated on trying to feed on the stultifying teat of government largess. They see their own political platforms and economic base being threatened should the citizens they claim to represent one day wake up and realize that the door is open for them to take their destinies into their own hands and cut out the greedy middle men — local politicians and a school system mired in dysfunction, mismanagement, fraud and decay. 

These cynical political games have to stop. Dr. Carson is no heartless villain out to deprive the poor. The reality is quite the opposite. He wants to help the poor leave poverty behind and to join the ranks of the middle class and wealthy. The old way of patronage politics in these inner cities is a shrinking pond, with local big fish trying to suck up all the remaining air. Their time is rapidly fading, and these utterly ridiculous claims attempting to diminish Dr. Carson’s legacy are just about their last gasp.

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is author of the book "Reawakening Virtues" and served as an adviser and spokesman for Dr. Ben Carson's 2016 presidential campaign.