Sincerity, authenticity, and staying true to ourselves are all things that we as Americans should strive to maintain throughout our lives.
When I travel to great places like Iowa, Arkansas, California, New Hampshire, Colorado, South Carolina, Nevada, and Ohio, I seemingly resonate with the people through candidly illustrating my personal story of struggle and outlining policies that have the promise to turn this nation back towards a positive direction.
But I have not done so in a manner that is considered bombastic or pretentious—for this is not the type of person I grew up to be in a single-parent home under the guidance of my quiet, soft-spoken mother.
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If I learned one thing from her, it was that one should never mistake soft-spokenness for weakness. She was tough on my brother and me, but for that I am forever thankful.
Over the course of my 29-year career as the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, I grew to understand that my quietness served as a source of strength and firmness in the decisions that I made.
Some of the most complicated surgeries that have ever been performed in the medical field were indeed conducted under my watch, which required me to remain calm and immersed in the details because at a moment’s notice, something had the potential to change in the operating room with a child’s life in my hands—that could mean life or death, all within the scope of my care.
People from all around the country who understand the role of pediatricians and neurosurgeons view this mode of composure and calmness as a gift. And as I translate this quality to national politics, it should be made clear that this soft-spokenness should not be underestimated as an indication of fear or weakness.
I am a firm believer that one can wield power through kindness and intellect, while always listening to constituents and never being out of touch; I have optimism and hope, and I am willing to fight in order to lift people up.
Some were surprised to hear that I supported CNN’s decision to change the debate format to specifically include Carly Fiorina on the platform for the prime time September 16t Republican debate. However, an open mind immediately recognizes that Carly has proven her viability and standing and deserves the same platform as the rest of the candidates, and I urged CNN to revise their format to include all other candidates in the prime time debate.
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I have advocated since early May that no qualified candidate should be excluded and that the Republican Party and the American people are best served with an active and transparent process.
The American people are starting to gain exposure to the expanded view of who I am, instead of the soundbites that are typically promulgated by the media. People respect brainpower and the ability to learn quickly, which are crucial components in preparation for leadership on any level.
After the first debate, many political wonks and members of the media attempted to say that I lost and that there is no "fire in his belly." To them I say, "Open your minds to a new mode of thinking and political conversation."
In order to foster productive dialogue and effectuate change in this nation, one must also take advantage of the time afforded to that individual. It is not so much about the amount of time given (as was witnessed during the first debate in which I had a small allotment of time to speak), but rather making the most of that said time period.
I have learned this valuable lesson over the years through my incredible patients, who were at many times subject to terminal illnesses that left them with only months to live.
To those who suggest that I have worked with and led only one to two people at any given moment, you are mistaken. The 1987 surgery in which my team successfully separated 7-month-old twins conjoined at the back of the head (the first time ever accomplished) required the guidance and help of 70 professionals in a cramped operating room, along with many others who provided additional support.
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This is just one of many examples where I was exposed to the importance of strong and confident leadership, while exhibiting a willingness to listen to others. I embrace these same dear principles when I meet people during my travels throughout the country.
Fortunately, these same Americans are displaying a willingness to listen as well, and as of last week we received our 400,000th donation to Carson America.
I could not be more proud of my campaign team and our supporters in terms of what we have accomplished together thus far. But this is only the beginning, and we are very grateful for all support and encouragement as we continue to share our values and solutions directly with the American people.
Ben Carson is a Republican presidential candidate. A former neurosurgeon and author, his last book “One Nation” was a New York Times bestseller.
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