Here's Your First 2016 Contender

by Chris Tognotti

The moment the midterm elections ended Tuesday night, the countdown was officially on — how long until the major players in the 2016 presidential election start coming out of the woodwork, positioning themselves for a long two years of pitching themselves to the American public? Well, the anticipation seems to finally be coming to life — former neurosurgeon and Republican Dr. Ben Carson is running for president in 2016. At least, that's what the 40-minute feature on his life, career and politics that'll be airing in 22 states this weekend indicates — suffice to say, that's not the sort of thing you bother throwing down money for just for kicks.

While Carson is not actually the first Republican to announce his candidacy in 2016 — that honor goes to perennial also-ran Jack Fellure, who filed with the FEC all the way back in 2012 after losing that election as the nominee of the Prohibition Party — he's definitely the first candidate with a fighting chance. Although he's a non-politician in a presumed field full of big names (Rand Paul, Rick Perry, hell, maybe even Mitt Romney?), he's been generating presidential buzz for a while now, hailed as a brilliant surgeon with a compelling life story. And, of course, he's got some pretty aggressive right-wing politics.

As detailed in the above video from ABC News, Carson exploded onto the national scene after his high-profile speaking slot at the National Prayer Breakfast in Feb. 2013. Taking to the podium alongside President Obama, Carson drew praise in conservative circles for speaking directly and pointedly against the administration's taxation policies, as well as against political correctness writ large. In fact, he went so far as to suggest that tax policy should be influenced by the Christian Bible.

What about our taxation system? ... When I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the universe, God, has given us a system. It's called "tithe." Now, we don't necessarily have to do it ten percent, but it's principle.

Tithing, for anybody not religiously inclined, is the practice of donating one-tenth of your earnings to your Church. As far as taxation policies go, basing it on the Bible as a matter of principle is about as flagrant a dismissal of the Constitution's Establishment Clause as it gets. And on the political correctness point, he clearly practices what he preaches — in Oct. 2013, Carson claimed that so-called Obamacare was the worst thing to happen to America since slavery. It was pretty gross.

You know Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control.

Basically — and this can't be stressed enough — Carson is an unknown political quantity, but the early indications in his public statements suggest he's a religious hardliner, and at the very least prone to the sorts of wild statements that probably wouldn't play well with a general election crowd, if he somehow managed to upset all the other, real politicians in the mix.

T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images News/Getty Images

With the increasing support of marriage equality all across the United States, for example, it's fair to wonder how far casually grouping same-sex marriage proponents with those of pedophilia or bestiality will get him.

Marriage is between a man and a woman. It's a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality -- it doesn't matter what they are, they don't get to change the definition.

Of course, if any of those above videos seem to paint him in a negative light, rest assured you'll get a glossier image when his feature airs this weekend. And really, there's no guarantee that any of the above statements will hurt him much.

People can have short memories, and some of his views are, unfortunately, probably shared by far-right Republican primary voters. In any event, we should tip our hats to Carson for finally getting this machine churning — the 2016 presidential season will soon be upon us, whether we're ready or not.

Image: Getty Images