In case you didn’t realize it, Republican candidate Dr. Ben Carson is still very much in the presidential race. Even after a disappointing loss in Iowa, where he received 9.3 percent of the vote compared to Senator Ted Cruz’s triumphant 27.7 percent and accusations from Cruz’s camp that he dropped out after leaving Iowa before the results came in, Carson remains optimistic about his chances. Unfortunately, he may be the only one.
Carson’s “healing hands” may not save him in the New Hampshire Primary, yet another state with a miniscule number of Black voters. But if he makes it to South Carolina, he may get an opportunity to finally talk to African Americans in a significant and genuine way.
As he continues campaigning, rumors are afloat that he will make a major announcement next week. In the interim, he spoke with EBONY.com on how he plans to pull the country out of economic despair, fixing the critical situation unfolding in Flint and had choice words for those who think he doesn’t have a good grip on foreign policy.
EBONY.COM: After Iowa and New Hampshire, there will be opportunities for you to speak directly to African American voters, many of whom are registered Democrats or simply undecided. Why should African Americans vote for you?
DR. BEN CARSON: Well, hopefully once they listen to me and see what I am talking about. I’m talking about how you empower people, not how you cheat people in a state of dependency which is primarily what the Democratic party has been doing. I want to talk about how the Black community uses its resources. If we learned how to turn our dollars over in our own community before we send it out, enormous wealth could be generated. Then learning to reach back and pull each other along, that’s going to really be the key. I’m also talking about how do we jump start the economy and that is something that will help everybody. I want to give a six-month hiatus on corporate taxes which currently generates over $2.1 trillion overseas. That’s money not being brought back. The only stipulation is that 10 percent of that money saved has to go towards creating job opportunities for people on welfare and people who are underemployed. It would be the biggest stimulus since FDR’s New Deal and it wouldn’t cost the tax payers one cent. It would also allow Corporate America to start thinking once again about investing in the communities around them because that’s what going to work. Government programs don’t work. They are self serving and create bigger bureaucracies which cheat on each other. We want stuff that really works.
EBONY.COM: We have all heard about the horrific injustice that occurred in Flint, Mich. I’m assuming you are familiar with that community since you grew up in Detroit. What policy mistakes do you believe happened there and what are the solutions?
CARSON: There’s plenty of blame to go along on that one— from the local level all the way to the Environmental Protection Agency. Everybody fell down on the job there. What we need to do is examine the situation closely and put safeguards in place to ensure it never happens again. I think we also need to recognize that lead poising is very damaging and it’s going to be very expensive but we have an obligation to take care of those people. Until they repair the problem, they will have to continue to provide filters and bottled water but either they remove those 100,000 residents to another location or they revamp the piping and the water system. There is no cheap way around this horrendous mistake and it needs to rectified.
EBONY.COM: You have said that education is the means to a better, much fulfilled life. With the astronomic cost of higher education in our country, do you believe that some institutions like community colleges should be free?
CARSON: No that’s ridiculous. If you understand the economic situation that we are in right now…we have a national debt of $19 trillion and a fiscal gap of over $200 trillion so any such talk honestly makes no sense. However, there are reforms in the policy that need to be looked at. When I was in school there were subsidized government loans with a two or three percent interest rate. Now, look they are at five to eight percent compounded so it can really even be higher than that. It’s impossible to get through that kind of situation and that’s what needs to be revamped. Pell Grants already exist for low income people who want to attend Community College. For those who are not low income, we have another solution but it’s a four letter word called work.
EBONY.COM: Reforming the criminal justice system is an issue that is extremely important to the Black community. What’s your plan to ensure that the system becomes less racially biased?
CARSON: This isn’t only an issue for the Black community, this is an issue that is important to our nation because we have five percent of the population in 25 percent of the prisons. We only have 330 million people in this country, so how in the world can we compete well if we don’t develop all of our people. China has 1.4 billion, India has 1.1 billion…we have to start early redirecting people so that they don’t go down that pathway of self destruction. It’s a matter of national security. You start at early education level and you make available school choice for every child. It is unfair to have people in situations where you have failing schools and you have people with no real options.
EBONY.COM: You’ve been accused of being less informed and even struggling when it comes to your knowledge of foreign policy. What do you say to those critics who question your abilities there?
CARSON: I say they are full of crap! I was on NPR and they questioned my foreign policy and I said, ‘I have an idea, why don’t you ask me some foreign policy questions and then you can find out for yourself.’ Of course they did and I blew them away. I will continue to do that. It’s just a stupid, false narrative.
EBONY.COM: Speaking of foreign policy, we are now hearing the Sec. Clinton is under even more fire for having top secret government information passing through her private email server. What are your thoughts on this?
CARSON: To be First Lady for eight years, a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State and not know that that is the wrong thing to do is very troublesome. If she doesn’t have enough judgment to understand that her actions are putting the nation at risk, then how can we possibly give her the keys to everything.
EBONY.COM: What’s your plan to keep semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of violent criminals and the mentally ill, especially in urban settings?
CARSON: First thing we have to do is learn from every situation where we have had several criminally insane people carrying out these mass murders. Then we have to use that data to identify early on those people who are much more likely to create problems in the future. We have to be willing to pull the trigger, and I mean that figuratively, but we have to do something about it rather than just sit helplessly by.
Wendy L. Wilson is a New York based, award winning journalist and former managing editor for EBONY and JET magazines. For more political coverage, folllow her on Twitter @WendyLWilson_