Who are they appealing to. The Sanders crowds are full of college kids; young, progressive professionals; and liberal retirees. They’re still mostly white, but still fairly diverse. Carson supporters are older and White.
At a typical Sanders stump speech, you’ll hear lots of suggestions for change. Strong policy ideas, whether you agree with them or not. Increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2020. Putting 13 million Americans to work by investing $1 trillion over five years on infrastructure projects. Creating 1 million jobs for disadvantaged young Americans by spending $5.5 billion on a youth jobs program. Making tuition free at public colleges and universities. Passing single-payer healthcare. Enacting a universal childcare and prekindergarten program. He’ll mention all of that, and more, in just one speech.
A typical Carson stump speech isn’t big on policy proposals. Sure, Carson touched on The Issues. He describes immigration as “a problem.” He predicts that our “fiscal irresponsibility” will “kill us if we don’t deal with it.” He declares that it was “not appropriate” to jail Kentucky clerk Kim Davis for refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He decris the “global jihadists” wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria. And he confesses that it “pains” him when he sees people “[going] around trying to shoot” police.
But other than saying that we need to “seal the border,” stop Democrats like Clinton from giving students “free college” tuition, “not impose our will on other people” like Kim Davis, “destroy [the global jihadists] before they destroy us” and accept that “police make mistakes” just like “plumbers, teachers, and presidents,” Carson doesn’t actually offer up solutions.
One of the few concrete policies he proposes is a corporate tax holiday to repatriate foreign profits, an idea the federal government tried more than a decade ago. Policy clearly isn’t the point of Carson’s rallies. Instead, the focus is on character: that of both Carson and his supporters.
“There are those who say, ‘You don’t have elected political experience,’” the candidate says onstage. “But if you look at the elected political experience of everybody in Congress, it comes out to about 8,700 years. Where has it gotten us?”
His supporters love this statement and cheer wildly. The crowd cheered. “The fact of the matter is our system was really designed for the citizen statesman,” Carson continued. “It was not designed for the professional politician.”
But Carson is a very particular kind of nonpolitician. We’ve seen CEOs run before. We’ve never seen a candidate like Carson — a black, devoutly Christian Republican who overcame a poor, fatherless youth to attend Yale and become the first surgeon to separate cranial conjoined twins.
And that was what Anaheim was all about. In the arena, supporters held up red, white and blue signs that said, “America Needs Gifted Hands.” The banners that flank his stage read, “Heal. Inspire. Revive,” it’s kind of his campaign slogan.
Onstage, Carson makes sure to summarize his story. He recalls the “dilapidated ghetto” he grew up in: “the rats, the roaches, the gangs, the murders.” He praises his heroic mother, who at 13 married a bigamist but “never became a victim,” “never felt sorry for herself” and taught him that “the person who has the most to do with what happens in life is you, not somebody else.” And he explains why his difficult childhood made him a conservative.
“I knew I had the ability to change my circumstances,” Carson said. “It is not the government’s responsibility to take care of everybody else.”
Carson’s appeal is his character, not his policy.
“Carson is a safe place for people to wait it out,” said Brad Todd, an adviser for a super PAC that supports rival candidate Bobby Jindal. “He’s not going to embarrass them. They think he has the utmost integrity. They don’t have to be ashamed to say they’re for him.”
Carson counters everything negative people say about conservatives writes Andrew Romano. You know, the image that conservatives only care about rich people and are usually rich themselves. That conservatives are mostly White and maybe even racist. That conservatives aren’t that educated or smart. That conservatives don’t believe in science. That conservatives are negative and obnoxious.
“If you set out to contradict every single one of those stereotypes by engineering a candidate that Republicans could point to and say, ‘See! We’re not like that! We’re voting for him!’ your candidate would look and act exactly like Ben Carson: a mild-mannered, Ivy League-educated black man of both science and faith who rose from rags to riches and became a Republican along the way,” writes Romano.
If Carson is a counter candidate so is Sanders. Democrats are tired of status quo.
By supporting Sanders, Democrats are registering their dissatisfaction with this status quo and implying that the establishment choice, Hillary Clinton, would be just as moderate, incremental, accommodating and stymied as her predecessor. They elected Obama because of who he was; they aren’t going to make the same mistake again. For them, Obama didn’t do enough with his presidency — and Clinton can’t be trusted to do enough either.
Sanders, on the other hand, can. After all, he’s been pushing the same proposals for decades.
“Maybe Bernie won’t get elected,” a 35-year-old screenwriter told an L.A. based reporter. “But maybe he will. Why should we sell ourselves short — why should we settle for less — if we don’t have to? Why shouldn’t we give his ideas a chance?”