It’s not every presidential campaign announcement rally that begins with a gospel choir performing Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” But Ben Carson managed to pull it off — along with a right-wing populist message against cultural elites.
Carson’s speech, delivered Monday morning at the Charles Wright Museum of African-American History in Detroit, was highly unusual, by the standards of campaigning, in that it didn’t even seem like a campaign speech. Instead, the now-official candidate delivered the sort of meandering seminar that he has taken to delivering at conservative conferences, pacing the stage and skipping from one rhetorical point to another. In turn, it was the positive reception from the converted in the audience that actually delivered any real energy.
One of the refrains that did get frequent support from the crowd was Carson’s repeating that he is not a politician — a line that may become harder to sustain over the course of an extended political campaign. Carson also railed against “socialists” making the country dependent on government, and spoke conspiratorially of efforts against the true beliefs and values of the population.
“One of the rules in Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals is you make the majority believe that what they believe is no longer relevant, and no intelligent person thinks that way, and the way you believe is the only way intelligent people believe,” he said. “And that way, they’ll keep silent. Because I’ll tell you something, they don’t care if you believe what they believe, as long as you keep your mouth shut. And that’s what we have to start doing: We have to start opening our mouths for the values and principles of America.”
Carson did also have one true opponent, against whom he could direct some sort of ire: the media, which he says has frequently misrepresented him and misinformed the public.
Indeed, when Carson started his appearance by standing alongside his wife and talking about their home life, he mentioned their friendly games of pool — some of which she even wins, he said, though most of the time he’ll beat her. “I should be careful because there are some media in here,” Carson said, “and their headline will be: ‘Carson Admits He Beats His Wife.'”
Carson also took on “the political class” in both parties — which, yes, means the media.
“And it includes, unfortunately, even the media now. You know, the media, the press, is the only business in America that is protected by our Constitution. You have to ask yourselves the question: Why were they the only ones protected? It’s because our founders envisioned a press that was on the side of the people, not a press that was on the side of the Democrats or the Republicans, or the Federalists or the Anti-Federalists.”
(Quick note: Carson might want to learn more about the actual newspapers during the early years of the country — they were all explicitly partisan outlets for the Federalists or the Anti-Federalists, and the various other political parties that would emerge out of those original two.)
But he continued: “And this is a direct appeal to media: You guys have an almost sacred position, in a true democracy. Please don’t abuse it.”
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