By Ashley Flynn
Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D., has recently been hailed a hero among conservatives after he ditched the so-called political correctness and expressed his opinions opposing high taxes and ObamaCare in his keynote speech at the National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 7.
The next day, Dr. Carson’s name filled the headlines including a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “Ben Carson for President.” Dr. Carson went from politically unknown to potential presidential candidate within a matter of days, and this October he will stop in Wabash to speak at the Wabash County Republican’s annual fundraiser.
Before his famous speech, Dr. Carson was better known for his medical achievements. Although he recently announced his retirement, Dr. Carson served as director of the division of pediatric neurosurgery at the John Hopkins Children’s Center. He was the first and only surgeon to successfully separate craniopagus (Siamese) twins joined at the back of the head in 1987. Dr. Carson holds more than 60 honorary doctorate degrees and has received hundreds of awards. In 2004, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the President’s Council on Bioethics.
In June of 2008, Dr. Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the President, which is the highest civilian honor one can receive.
Along with all his medical achievements and awards, Dr. Carson is president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments. The fund is currently operating in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It has awarded more than $5 million to more than 5,000 scholars. The program also establishes Carson Reading Rooms to encourage young students and their families to discover the pleasure found in books and recognize the true power of learning.
Dr. Carson has written five books, and he will discuss his book “America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great,” during his time in Wabash.
In the book, Dr. Carson shares what he believes is good about America and where America has been misled. Dr. Carson has insight of what it is like to grow up in dire poverty and rise to the top.
“He is the true reflection of what the American dream is all about.” Barbara Pearson, Republican Committee Chairman of Wabash County told The Paper of Wabash in an interview.
Pearson, who took her position in March, put Dr. Carson at the top of the list when thinking of potential speakers. Dealing with only his handlers, she was able to make her number one choice happen.
“With God’s help, we were able to secure the funds we needed through the generosity and tremendous support of the Wabash community and surrounding areas and from there it just started falling together. I knew that this was supposed to happen,” Pearson said.
Pearson hopes Dr. Carson will help bring Republicans from the county together.
“We have a lot of groups within the Republican Party, but we’ve got to come together. That’s all there is to it,” she said. “We’re not going to have any success if we keep trying to do things our own way. We have to find common ground and come together. We can work on things we don’t agree on later.”
“I think that bringing Dr. Carson here will be the catalyst to push us in that direction because he is not only a brilliant man but he has a lot of common sense ideas and approaches to things,” Pearson said.
Pearson and other Republicans see Dr. Carson as a good representative for their party, although he claims independent political status, as his views align with the Republican Party. He is a prime example of someone who worked their way up in life.
Dr. Carson grew up in Detroit in poverty. His divorcee mother had a third grade reading level, but refused to give up on her children. As a boy, Dr. Carson received poor grades and had a bad temper, but his mother encouraged him to read books and write reports on them. At first he was reluctant, but soon realized that books could take him anywhere.
Dr. Carson graduated from Southwestern High School with honors and went on to attend Yale University and the University of Michigan Medical School. At the age of 33, he was named the youngest major division director in Johns Hopkins history.
“He has made it to the top and all out of dire poverty. Nothing held him back, and that’s one thing I want people to see,” said Pearson. “It encourages people that regardless of their situation to say ‘I don’t have to stay there.’ You can do whatever you want if you work hard.”
“I think as a country we’ve become so apathetic to things. We think no matter what we do, we can’t change anything. But we can. If we all come together, we can make a meaningful difference,” Pearson said. She believes Dr. Carson’s speech will inspire and encourage people to make changes.
“What he says resonates with the American people. We are all sitting back listening to him talk and we say, ‘exactly,” Pearson said.
After Dr. Carson’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, some believed he should apologize to President Obama who was sitting not too far away, but Dr. Carson did not believe it was necessary. Pearson agrees that being politically correct is not always the way to go.
“One of his bigger points is he says we aren’t talking because of political correctness. We have to push that aside and ask ourselves, how can we push the country forward.’ I believe Dr. Carson can help us start doing that,” she said.
Although Dr. Carson is a physician first, he has made quite an impression in the political world. He is not running for any political position as of now, but he has not ruled out the possibility. Many believe his background gives him a lot of insight into politics.
Dr. Carson has ideas about the IRS and ObamaCare.
“He has a genuine concern for the country. The things he talks about affect people’s lives. He has ideas about trying to restructure the IRS and tax code,” said Pearson. “He has also come up with an alternative for ObamaCare, which would be more like a health savings account, and being a physician he has more inside knowledge of the effects on the medical profession.”
Pearson hopes Dr. Carson’s visit will get people in the community excited about politics again.
“I want people to know that by getting involved they can help make a change,” she said.
The money raised from this fundraiser will all stay within the county. The Wabash County Republican Party will use it to support candidates, and they are interested in purchasing a building sometime in the future.
Dr. Carson will be in the Ford Theater in the Honeywell Center Oct. 20 at 3 p.m.
Pearson is still accepting donors who will have the opportunity to have dinner with Dr. Carson after the show.
Tickets ($42, $35, and $25) are on sale now to the general public, and they can be purchased online or in person at the Honeywell box office.