Until this week, I didn’t fully appreciate to what extent the most hard-core Republican voter embraces a dystopian view of America life.
With billionaire Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson leading the GOP presidential field at 18 percent each among Pennsylvania Republicans, according to a poll by Mercyhurst University, it may be time to recognize an uncomfortable political reality.
It is obvious that neither Mr. Trump nor Dr. Carson feels particularly burdened by the need to articulate coherent political solutions to the nation’s problems, as even their most outrageous comments are rewarded with higher poll numbers.
All Republican candidates have a perverse incentive to embrace “the crazy” during the primary season. They know that their party’s most rabid constituents are true believers who have gazed into Nietzsche’s void and internalized the logic of the worst-case scenario as a virtue. They’re not afraid of what would happen if their candidate is actually elected president and compelled to act on promises.
While most of us recoil at the thought of spending trillions to deport up to 15 million undocumented immigrants, a cohort of voters will only support a candidate who expresses a willingness to do that very thing.
Thanks to a series of ill-considered, ridiculous and downright callous comments about guns and the Oregon shootings, Dr. Carson has finally overtaken Mr. Trump, our would-be deporter-in-chief, as the most rhetorically outlandish of the primary candidates.
With a straight face, Dr. Carson said that the victims of the Oregon gunman were too passive in the face of imminent death. “Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” he said on “Fox & Friends.”
“I would say, ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him! He may shoot me but he can’t get us all,’” Dr. Carson said. The idea that he could inspire anyone to follow him into a fight with a mentally ill guy armed with multiple guns — guns the NRA insists he be allowed to own — is only possible in an alternate universe where soft-spoken demagogues are heroes.
“I want to plant in people’s minds what to do in situations like this,” Dr. Carson said during what can only be described as a macabre “blaming the victim” media tour this week.
On Sirius XM Radio, Dr. Carson admitted that he was less courageous when he was held up at gunpoint at a Popeye’s in Baltimore many years ago.
“Guy comes in, put the gun in my ribs. And I just said, ‘I believe you want the guy behind the counter,’” the candidate said, describing a rather different reaction from what he’s recommending for others now. But what’s a little cowardly misdirection from a guy who wants to be president?
Very few of Dr. Carson’s primary supporters look to him for “profiles in courage” or anything resembling moral consistency. They want someone representing them who has as dark a view of humanity as they do.
While waiting for the Rapture, Dr. Carson and his supporters wouldn’t mind if every teacher from preschool to college were wearing Kevlar and packing heat. They’re also for the elimination of all gun-free zones, enabling every potential victim to respond to the next mass shooter with a barrage of bullets. There would be no need for conceal-carry permits, because every American would be assumed to be carrying.
In a nation where Dr. Ben Carson is president, Bible study teachers in church basements would be armed, so Charleston could never happen again. Sadistic teenagers would stop harassing homeless people, because those victims would have the means to kill them. In fact, all school-related bullying would stop. Spousal abuse and petty crime would end. Vigilante killings would soar, but not murder.
In Dr. Carson’s America, guns will solve all of our social problems. Police won’t have any justification for stop-and-frisk because everyone will be strapped. Police brutality will disappear because it will be too risky. Urban neighborhoods will bloom and gangs will dissolve as armed citizens retake their streets.
Terrorists, liberals and other undesirables will think twice about messing with Dr. Carson’s America. Jesus will be impressed.
Tony Norman: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1631.