Thursday, November 29, 2012

Selling Conservatism

It's harder than Liberalism's 'here, have some free stuff'. [Link]
Let's concede that those who are pushing to expand government have one huge advantage. Their advantage is that their solutions are immediate, direct and easy to explain.

Take that MTV mom. As it turned out, the reason her partner could abandon those two young boys is because they weren't his. He'd been supporting another man's children, and apparently decided he'd had enough. The conservative might feel vindicated here: Had the mom been married to and living with her children's father, chances are she and her boys would not find themselves so vulnerable.
Being correct, however, isn't the same thing as being persuasive. The conservative is rightly concerned with incentives and the long-term effects of any government program for relief, which are vital concerns for workable policy. The liberal is far less abstract: Here are some food stamps so your children don't go hungry tonight.

Never mind the long-term costs and consequences of these solutions. Yes, the education loans that supposedly make college "affordable" actually drive its costs up faster than normal inflation. Yes, housing subsidies have saddled people with homes they cannot afford. And, yes, minimum-wage laws price the people who can least afford it out of the job market. The dilemma for those of us who oppose big-government solutions is that the true costs of these "solutions" are seldom clear until it's too late.
So what's a Republican to do?
Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, describes the conservative task this way: "The left's approach to social policy is to shield people from the American economy, while conservatives' approach must be to enable them to enjoy its benefits—to enable people to move up rather than to make them more secure in poverty. Conservatives know that this is where our principles point, but we need to make sure that the striving immigrant worker or the struggling single mom knows that too."

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