If you’re a black kid in Detroit who grows up to be not just a famous neurosurgeon, but a conservative — you are, by definition, weird. When something approaching 95 percent of blacks are Democrats, it stands to reason that the kinds of African Americans who self-identify as Republicans are, by definition, outside the mainstream of their community.
Whatever it is that makes Ben Carson unique, he can hardly complain. In a sense, Carson’s success is more stunning than Trump’s — and, perhaps, an even better argument that the “outsider” ethos is a new and powerful phenomenon. I might not like Donald Trump’s politics, but his appeal is understandable — it’s essentially what every successful demagogue has employed. But the notion that a good chunk of the Republican base finds Carson, a man who strikes me viscerally as unusual, wildly appealing is perhaps a sign that things have really really changed.