7 Reasons Ben Carson's Confirmation As HUD Secretary Should Concern You
So far with the Trump administration, there's really not enough concern to go around for all the things that are concerning. I'm sorry to put even more onto your plate, but now it's time to discuss why Ben Carson's confirmation as the HUD Secretary should also concern you — and it's not just because he always appears to be asleep. Sure, his confirmation went through largely without hitch, which almost makes it appear normal after the furor that surrounded Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — but don't be fooled.
Ben Carson may have been a hugely respected and successful doctor, but having the steady hands of a pediatric neurosurgeon still doesn't give you experience in running any part of government. I used to play lacrosse — does that mean I can step right into a high ranking post at the State Department? I certainly hope not. But apparently when this president likes you, you don't run into the same sorts of resume troubles that we mere mortals tend to have. And while his lack of experience is a big reason to be a bit trepidatious of what Carson might do with his new post, it's certainly not the only one. Here are a few more.
1. He Has No Relevant Experience
As I alluded to above, Ben Carson has zero experience running the sort of large government bureaucracy that he's just been sworn in to run. OK, but maybe he's had other experience in government that taught him how the system generally works? Nope. None of that either. He has about as much experience for this position as you or I do — unless you actually work in government at literally any level, in which case you have more.
2. He Received Government Benefits, But Does Not Embrace Them
Ben Carson grew up in poverty, and often relied on food stamps in order to eat — and yet he maintains that his own effort was the key to his success, and not any of the government programs that he benefited from. That's a rather troubling belief, as part of HUD's function is to give rental subsidies to families who can't afford housing. If he believes, as he said, that taking care of people should fall to churches and community initiatives, then why should he be trusted to bolster government programs that are meant to do exactly that?
3. There's A Very Sketchy Racial Aspect To All Of This
Trump spent a good portion of the campaign talking about African-Americans in the inner cities, as though in Trump's world, black people all live in poverty, and only black people live in those poverty-ridden inner cities. All of that, of course, is false. And then the one black person in his cabinet ends up being Secretary of HUD, because, as a Trump aide told NPR, "[Carson has] never been disconnected from these inner cities and these people who live these lives."
There's no denying that Carson is a great role model for children born into poverty who aspire to get out of it, or for black children who want to break into professions where there are still issues with discrimination. But saying that he's qualified for this position because he grew up in the inner city, which Trump seems to think is reserved specifically for African-Americans? There's something sketchy going on there.
4. He Won Approval Based On Many Promises
Carson even convinced a number of Democrats to vote for him based on promises he made to keep certain regulations and anti-discrimination laws in place. I'd like to say that I trust him when he makes those nice promises, like about how he'll keep fighting against discrimination based on sexual orientation, but the Trump administration has already broken some of those really nice promises.
5. He Said He Wasn't Interested, Until He Was Selected
Carson himself said that he wasn't qualified for a Cabinet position because of his lack of government experience and that he didn't want one — until Trump chose him, and then he accepted it. If that doesn't make you worry about this whole thing, I don't know what will.
6. His Primary Run Was Less Than Convincing
He didn't do well in any of the primaries, and the SNL versions of his debate performances were far more memorable than his actual debate performances were. And yet, somehow he's the only one of Trump's former challengers to get a spot in the Cabinet. Not that Ted Cruz necessarily would have agreed to it, but maybe he would have liked to be considered.
7. Millions of People Will Be Relying On Him For Housing
This is really the biggest problem with Carson's confirmation as HUD Secretary. HUD's programs directly serve about 5 million people just through Federal Rental Assistance — and that's just a fraction of what they actually do. Individuals and communities rely on HUD for a lot, and now they're relying on a guy at the top who has no experience managing a government apparatus. We're talking homeless veterans, children born into poverty, elderly people struggling to live on their pensions — whose homes and communities are now, in many cases, in Carson's hands.
Maybe Carson does deserve the benefit of the doubt, and he'll prove to be an effective and compassionate head of this department. Yet based on his background and all of the things listed above, there are a lot of reasons to be worried.