Ben Carson launched his long-shot presidential bid Monday in Detroit with a rousing speech that scratched a lot of itches for conservatives tired of Beltway business as usual. “I’m not a politician. I don’t want to be a politician,” declared Carson, a former neurosurgeon. “Politicians do what is politically expedient. I want to do what’s right.” Furthermore, he said, “I think it’s time for the people to rise up and take the government back. The political class won’t like me saying stuff like that. I’ll tell you a secret, the political class comes from both parties.” Instead, he proposed to be the champion of a third way: “I’m saying to people around this nation right now, stop being loyal to a party or to a man, and use your brain to think for yourself.” That’s a message any conservative can get behind.
But is Carson the right messenger? As we’ve said before, while Carson is a good conservative and seems to be a good man, he has a lot of reading to do when it comes to the serious policy issues the next president will face. The presidency isn’t an entry-level political job. Carson’s primary contribution to this cycle may be reminding voters of lines such as those quoted above. “Use your brain to think for yourself” will be an important message in the campaign.