Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, whose poll numbers have taken off thanks to enthusiastic populist support, seems to hold a more skeptical view of voters than he usually displays on the campaign trail. In a speech from last year, Carson said in reference to the American people, “Many of them are stupid," Mother Jones reported Tuesday.
His statement came during a stop on a book tour, when Carson spoke at the Richard Nixon Library on Oct. 19, 2014. Many in the crowd seemed to want Carson to run for president, chanting “run, Ben, run” as he entered the room. When an audience member asked if he would enter the 2016 presidential race as an independent, Carson said he would not do so because it would split the Republican vote.
Carson broadened his speech from specific political parties to vague political enemies, who he said were permeating various aspects of American society in a quest to control the country:
They can twist and turn things as much as they want. But what they don't understand—and they miscalculated. They were doing a great job in terms of fundamentally changing this nation. In terms of infiltrating the school systems. In terms of infiltrating the media. All of this—they've done a great job. Everything was perfect. Except they underestimated the intelligence of the American people. The people are not as stupid as they think they are. Many of them are stupid. Okay. But I'm talking about overall.
However, these enemies did not seem to worry Carson as he boasted that he could use social media to avoid the infiltration and corruption of mainstream politics. Fox News was the only mainstream network Carson considered immune from evil. “Even if all the media tries to shut you down, which they have tried very much to do with me, but they can't because the good Lord has provided me with mechanisms like my syndicated column and like Fox News,” Carson said. “We'd be Cuba if there were no Fox News.”
Carson has made comments about people plotting to take over U.S. society before. As Mother Jones pointed out, he is a big fan of the right-wing conspiracy theorist W. Cleon Skousen, whose 1958 book “The Naked Communist” depicts a Cold War-era kind of dystopia where communists "penetrated every echelon of American society, including some of the highest offices of the United States Government."
Skousen apparently shares other ideas with Carson, who has once again overtaken rival Donald Trump in the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. Causes that Skousen claimed were part of a communist plot to take over the United States included: the civil rights movement, homosexuality, abstract art and modernism, Medicare, Social Security and other government welfare programs. Carson has cited Skousen in interviews, and the most recent edition of the book includes a quote from the presidential candidate on the cover.
On the campaign trail, one of Carson’s consistent points has been that decisions should be made with “We the people” in mind, and that regular Americans’ opinions matter more than those of the Washington elite. He has criticized other politicians for condescending to voters and says governing with faith and character is more important than experience.