Trump Transition

Why Trump’s appointment of Carson is one of the most important things he’s done

Dr. Carson picked as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

 

The appointment of Dr. Ben Carson to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development may be one of the most important things President-Elect Donald Trump has done so far to Make America Great Again.

Dr. Carson's greatest strength is not his sheer intelligence (which is very formidable), his standing as a world-class pediatric neurosurgeon (a field in which his pioneering efforts are legendary), his deep popularity with home schoolers, or his political appeal (at one point he was tied with Donald Trump as the frontrunner).

What makes Dr. Carson uniquely important is his moral authority as someone who has risen from poverty to enormous success and carried his mother's basic conservatism and belief in religion and morality with him his entire life. He has lived his mother's dream that hard work, a willingness to learn, and honesty can carry you to great heights.

I first heard of Dr. Carson when he spoke to the National Prayer Breakfast in 1997. His religious faith, solid conservative values, and ability to learn was astonishing. In 2013, he spoke a second time at a prayer breakfast and confronted President Obama in a manner which aroused conservative admiration and support.

What makes Dr. Carson uniquely important is his moral authority as someone who has risen from poverty to enormous success and carried his mother's basic conservatism and belief in religion and morality with him his entire life. He has lived his mother's dream that hard work, a willingness to learn, and honesty can carry you to great heights.

Last summer, Callista and I had the good fortune to spend a week floating down the Danube with Ben and his wife Candy. They are friendly, deeply committed to each other, and interested in everything and everyone around them. They both have delightful senses of humor.

It was an extraordinary experience to sit with the Carson’s and watch the movie Gifted Hands in which Cuba Gooding, Jr. played Dr. Carson and Aunjanue Ellis played Candy Carson. Candy's positive impact on Ben comes through in the movie.

The story of Ben Carson's rise from Detroit to national fame and the moral influence of his mother has the potential to transform the poorest neighborhoods in America.

It is this moral force by example, by speech and by writing that could be Dr. Carson's greatest contribution to America.

We cannot Make America Great Again if millions of Americans are trapped in neighborhoods without jobs, without education, without safety, and without hope.

Reaching out to the millions of inner-city African Americans who despair of a better future will be Dr. Carson's greatest challenge.

By accepting the HUD Secretary position, Dr. Carson has positioned himself to lead an interdepartmental effort focused directly on helping the poorest Americans.

The Trump transition announcement made it clear that Carson would be much more than Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. It said:

Dr. Carson will be on the front lines of implementing President-elect Trump’s Plan for Urban Renewal, which includes:

●     Great education through school choice.

●     Safe communities through investments in training and funding for law enforcement operations to remove gang members, drug dealers, and criminal cartels from our neighborhoods.

●     Equal justice under the law.

●     Tax reforms to create jobs and lift up people and communities.

●     Financial reforms to expand credit to support new job creation.

●     Trade that works for American workers.

●     Protection from illegal immigration.

●     New infrastructure investment.

●     Protecting the African-American church, defending religious liberty and promoting strong families."

This is a mandate from President-elect Trump for Dr. Carson to have a vital role across all aspects of helping urban communities break out and become prosperous, safe and upwardly mobile.

This commitment follows on Donald Trump's proposal in Charlotte on October 26, 2016, for a “New Deal for Black America”.

In fact, every element of that proposed New Deal is in the list of assignments the transition team has given to Secretary-designate Carson.

Beginning with President Lyndon Johnson's declaration of a War on Poverty in 1964, the federal government has spent trillions trying to help our poorest citizens and our poorest neighborhoods. As Paul Ryan pointed out in a 2014 report The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later there were some 90 uncoordinated federal anti-poverty bureaucracies.

This lack of coordination and proliferation of random efforts was noticed as soon as three years after the program began. Yet the essential problem has never been money or bureaucracy. The central problem, as Charles Murray pointed out in his classic study “Losing Ground”, has been moral and cultural.

Dr. Carson is precisely the leader to lead the poorest neighborhoods in America to a moral, cultural, and economic revival and then to reinforce and deepen that revival by establishing the right programs and eliminating the destructive ones.

If Dr. Carson can truly help millions of Americans leave poverty for a better future, he will be among the most consequential appointees of the entire Trump presidency.

Newt Gingrich is a Fox News contributor. A Republican, he was speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. Follow him on Twitter @NewtGingrich. His latest book is "Understanding Trump."