You may wonder why the name of the onetime Obama nemesis and 2016 Presidential candidate is popping up on this website after a lengthy hiatus, but wonder no more. Last Friday night I was one of hundreds of Sussex County and surrounding residents who were treated to a personal appearance from Dr. and Mrs. Carson at Crossroad Community Church – the same venue which had the discussion on CRT I covered in July.
This is a post which will be frugal in photos and bereft of quotes because I didn’t come equipped with a notebook for them. I wasn’t really expecting any breaking news from Ben aside from chatter about a new enterprise he’s beginning called the American Cornerstone Institute (ACI), an organization dedicated to four basic principles: Faith, Liberty, Community, and Life. Certainly it’s a way to keep himself relevant after finishing his stint as HUD director and candidate for president, but I get the sense that the gig for him is a little bit like President Trump is doing these days: they aren’t doing it because they have to but they’re doing it because they want to.
So about the evening – we had a little bit of everything. There was this introductory video, congregational praise singing, dancing, and worship before Dr. Carson spoke, and an appeal for helping to get state and local chapters of the American Cornerstone group off the ground. (In that respect, they’re going to tread a lot of the ground already staked out by the 9/12 Delaware Patriots and Patriots for Delaware.) Ben talked a lot about his youth and upbringing, noting he was once called the dumbest kid in the school but two years later was motivated enough to move to the top of the class. (Then again, he was in those grades right around the time I was born. I have to stop and think about how he was raised in grinding poverty in a pre-Great Society, pre-civil rights era, back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He graduated from high school in 1969, just before I began my schooling.)
One perk of attending was that each seat was equipped with Ben’s book, One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future. Obviously the cynic in all of us may see the book as a loss leader (yeah, it probably was) and the event as an effort to raise funds and awareness for his new enterprise (yeah, it certainly was as you’ll see in an upcoming photo) but to me there was a person on stage who was determined to leave this place better than how he found it, one not depending on statistics or jargon to make his point.
Out of all that he said, though, I was somewhat surprised and a little bit disappointed about how little he said about his tenure at HUD. Certainly Ben’s known for his medical expertise, but I think more discussion about the “fish out of water” experience of running a government agency would have been enlightening. Certainly I would love to know whether (and if so, how) that experience led him to form the ACI once his time was done in January – after all, Dr. Carson has reached a stage in life and accomplishment where he would have been excused if he decided to spend more time with his wife Candy and play a few more rounds on the golf course. But it appears he’s chosen not to, instead coming to Delaware to spread the word about his organization.
What I can tell you is that we had a full house, plus overflow.
Besides the video I alluded to earlier, Carson made most of his remarks with a sparse backdrop.
Once he finished his remarks – which ran about 45 minutes – he exited stage right, directly in front of us so I could thank him for coming. Apparently he was going to meet with those in overflow before still further meetings with the VIPs. In the interim, we heard from the state coordinator of ACI, a longtime friend of Ben’s. He noted that the state group was looking for members and support, and I think they got some, judging by the bowl.
If people wanted something a little more tangible and to spread the word, well, they had threads too.
When he ran for President in 2016, Ben Carson was sort of middle of the pack as far as my endorsement went, with good points and bad points. Similarly, I liked a lot of what he had to say on Friday night, but I think Ben could have been a little bit more enlightening if he hadn’t focused as much on his story (as compelling as it is) and talked a little more on how his organization will differ from all of the other think tanks/PACs failed candidates usually come up with. Maybe that’s just the recovering politician in me. (There was a promising aspect that ACI just began called Little Patriots – hopefully that carries on the spirit of the Rush Revere book series authored by Rush Limbaugh, which was a conservative historical perspective tailored for a younger set.)
Perhaps we will get more of those answers in the coming days, but I’m glad slower lower Delaware got a little love from a nationally-known figure.
Postscript: It’s worth mentioning as well that there was almost no advertising for this event. I’m sure it was mentioned at the church regularly, but the way I heard about the event was via The Bridge (a local Christian radio station) and it was only mentioned a handful of times there. I guess word gets around fast, but when my wife shared this on social media a lot of the response was “I wish I had known.” They could have filled that church twice over with a bit more advertising.