While many social conservatives have been giddy with excitement about the prospect of renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson hitting the campaign trail for a presidential run in 2016, prominent Columbia University political scientist Fredrick Harris thinks it's a long shot.
- (Photo: Columbia University)
Harris, who directs the Institute for Research in African-American Studies and the Center on African-American Politics and Society in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University, said the prospect was a long shot because the idea of a political novice rising to the most powerful seat in America has no precedent in recent history.
"Dr. Carson is obviously a brilliant man and he has lots of accolades but this is a person who has never held public office. It doesn't make sense to me," said Harris in an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday.
As celebrated as Carson is, explained Harris, America knows nothing about him apart from what he has revealed in his books. He also said if the Republican Party were to seriously consider Carson as a 2016 presidential candidate, it would only be further evidence of the party's issues with diversity.
"We don't know much about Ben Carson except for his personal biography," said Harris. "When we seriously consider presidential candidates, it shows in my view, the Republican party having to go deep on the bench to broaden their horizon."
On a more positive note, however, Harris said Carson represents many of the social values espoused by the African-American community, but that still isn't enough of a prize to sell the Republican Party to African-Americans.
"The problem for the Republican Party in recruiting African Americans is that an approach to economic issues is far more important than cultural issues like prayer in schools," he said. Pointing to the heavy support by minorities in California for Proposition 8 as evidence of the deeply conservative values held by African Americans, he noted that at the end of the day, black voters still voted predominantly for the Democratic Party despite their values.
Harris explained that although he doesn't see Carson at the top of the ticket, he could see him as Vice President. "I could see him in a cabinet position, maybe Surgeon General, maybe Vice President. I know of one person who did it and that was Mike Bloomberg. It can happen on the lower level but President of the United States? Let's get real," he said.
Harris' research interests, as noted on his profile page on Columbia's website, include American politics with a focus on political participation, social movements, religion and politics, political development, and African-American politics. His current book project is on the implications of the Obama candidacy for black politics, which is tentatively titled The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Rise and Fall of Black Politics.
In an interview with CP on Tuesday, the president of the National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), Anthony Evans, declared that if Mitt Romney had Carson as his running mate in the 2012 presidential elections, he would be in the White House today. "Let's put it this way. If Mitt Romney had selected Dr. Carson as his running mate in 2012, he would have been President of the United States today," said Evans.
"You don't need 100 percent of the black vote to win. If 15 percent of the black vote had gone to Romney (in 2012) he would have won, especially in Ohio," said Evans, who described himself as an independent voter.