Ben Carson Is More Pundit Than President—but You Should Read His Book Anyway

No matter what you think of Dr. Carson, if you want to know more about a man you’ll be hearing a lot from in the next few years, it’s worth reading One Nation.

One Nation cover
One Nation cover SENTINEL BOOKS

Where does Dr. Ben Carson go next?

On NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, he told David Gregory that he still doesn’t have plans for a White House run—but only after he edged in ever so slightly last week, suggesting to the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes that he’s “starting to feel it.”

It’s the sort of careful phrasing you’d expect from a guy who’s become a sort of Tony Robbins-esque sage on the patriotically correct right, about whether or not he has loftier ambitions.

If he does run, though, he’ll have already laid part of the groundwork with his new book, One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future, which comes out on Tuesday. And while Carson has already written several books, this one works perfectly as the now almost mandatory prepresidential manifesto that every contender—from nominees like Mitt Romney to also-rans like Tim Pawlenty—typically writes.

Regular readers of The Root know that I’ve been pretty critical of Carson over the last couple of years—just read here, here and here—but if you want a view into what’s bubbling up in national politics, I’d have to say that One Nation is worth the read.

In it, Carson outlines his views on everything from same-sex marriage (“One can choose God’s word or the gay marriage agenda”), corporate taxes (they’re too high), Miley Cyrus (not a role model) and whether or not we are our brother’s keeper (via private charity, yes; by way of government, no).

And in a trim 256 pages, he lays out a fairly wide-ranging vision of the America that he’d like to see, beginning each chapter with a biblical proverb and ending each chapter with a list of four bullet-point recommendations.

Tighter policy details aren’t really there, but in one chapter he’s fairly expansive on the subject of health care, laying out his case against Obamacare and for Health Savings Accounts, saying: “With each person owning his own HSA in the United States, most people would become interested in saving by shopping for the most cost-effective high-quality health care plans available.”

When he writes that “the HSA could be populated with funds supplied by an employer, the owner, relatives, friends, and governmental sources,” he makes a less-than-satisfying move away from where the money comes from now, but Carson does outline a plan for allowing individual HSA balances to be inherited and for individuals to transfer money into their HSA accounts into those of family members.

Carson addresses some of the same topics that he did in America the Beautiful, but this book is conspicuously tuned for a wider audience. Even the photo on the jacket dispenses with the pensive, bespectacled doctor we’ve often seen and replaces him with the upright, flag-pin-adorned pundit.