As October approaches, it seems that the United States’s summer romance with Republican candidate Donald Trump is coming to an end. For the past few months, Trump’s trademark flashiness has captivated the media’s attention and torn it away from more serious candidates. But no longer. A new NBC News/ “Wall Street Journal” poll shows Trump at a statistical tie with Ben Carson, a former neurosurgeon. While Trump’s possible fall should be celebrated as a victory for good governance, Carson’s rise as a presidential candidate is an equally terrifying prospect.
While Trump is still technically leading in the polls, his campaign team has been showing many signs of struggle. In fact, as Trump’s poll numbers have started to deflate and his strategy of shouting and bullying his way to the front has started to fail, the “post-policy” candidate recently unveiled a new tax plan that many Americans greeted with criticism. Like a young celebrity attempting to stay relevant, Trump has also attempted to pick as many fights as he can, recently denouncing Fox News, again. As voters get more serious about the prospect of Trump’s election, and as Trump’s campaign attempts to paint itself as a realistic choice, his poll numbers will likely fall until he becomes an also-ran.
While Trump has distracted an entire nation with his showmanship and antics, the candidates that threaten his front-runner status have proven themselves to be just as unelectable. A few weeks ago, Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, was seen as the greatest threat to Trump. Many saw the success of a woman in the Republican party as refreshing and groundbreaking. Unfortunately, Fiorina’s success was due largely to her criticisms of Planned Parenthood at the most recent GOP debate, and her claims were found to be mainly fabricated. One of Fiorina’s most applauded moments of the night was when she attacked Planned Parenthood by describing a video that allegedly showed an aborted fetus, still alive, kicking and screaming before death. No such video, however, has ever been released. Fortunately for Fiorina, those details were washed out by stories of Trump, leaving her dangerous rhetoric relatively unchecked.
Now we have Ben Carson, the soft-spoken surgeon whose claim to fame is the separation of conjoined twins in 2003. His effort marked the first successful completion of this operation, although Carson’s two patients, both Iranian law graduates, passed away about 90 minutes after their operation. For his work, Carson won the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Despite being a skilled surgeon, Carson’s social views could make him a dangerous leader. Although he is a respected doctor, he has famously stated that he does not believe in evolution or climate change. He has also, in the past, made comments linking homosexuality to pedophilia, incest and bestiality. Such comments have earned him a spot on a watch list by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a possible extremist.
In fact, Carson’s rise has been partially tied to remarks about how there should not be a Muslim president. Despite later justifying his statement on Facebook by invoking Muslim belief in Sharia law, he still makes enormous generalizations about the Muslim community – namely, that all Muslims believe women are inferior and that homosexuals should be condemned. This type of rhetoric is dangerous and destructive when it comes from anyone, but is particularly harmful coming from someone who is leading the polls for a major party’s presidential nomination. While the media and many citizens fixate on the ludicrous actions of Trump, the political equivalent of Lindsay Lohan with a toupé, real dangers to the United States, such as Fiorina and Carson, are flying under the radar.