mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
A Softer Face for Conservatism?

In Friday’s Wall Street Journal, WRM reviews The Conservative Heart, a new book by Arthur Brooks, the president of American Enterprise Institute’s president (WRM is on AEI’s academic advisory board, unpaid). Brooks calls his fellow conservatives to deliver their limited government message with empathy, generosity of spirit, and attention to moral values:

When, for example, conservatives inveigh against increasing the minimum wage, the message voters hear is that conservatives don’t care about helping poorly paid workers. What they need to hear is that conservative opposition to hiking the minimum wage comes out of a passionate concern for the well-being of those who lose their jobs when the minimum wage increases. That can’t just be boilerplate; conservatives need to highlight the inequality and lack of opportunity that so many Americans feel. And they need to offer practical solutions. As Mr. Brooks remarks about anti-poverty and social-welfare programs in general: “While conservatives have criticized those outmoded policies, they have offered little in the way of alternatives.” […]

As a practical matter, Mr. Brooks is onto something important in this book. Developing a message that is grounded in widely acceptable moral values, attaching the message to appealing policy proposals, and projecting that message in a magnanimous way will be the high road to political success—not just in 2016 but for the long term.

Since the 2012 election, conservative leaders have acknowledged that they have a messaging problem, and a debate has broken out between Tea Partiers, establishmentarians, and reform conservatives of various stripes over how to address it. The Conservative Heart is a notable contribution to the ongoing efforts of one of America’s major political parties to reinvent itself to appeal to a wider audience. Read WRM’s full take in the WSJ.

Features Icon
show comments
  • rheddles

    You confuse conservatives with Republicans.

    • Dale Fayda

      My sentiments exactly.

    • Andrew Allison

      I think TAI just following the lead of the WSJ quote. Fact is that “Tea Partiers, establishmentarians, and reform conservatives of various stripes” pretty much describes Republican tent. But this is a red herring: Brooks is absolutely correct that conservatives need to present their message in a way which appeals to the libertarian/independent constituency if they expect to prevail.

  • JR

    Liberals come with good intentions and a way of paying for them that doesn’t involve doing anything but voting a certain way. Conservatives want you to get a job. Wow, I can’t at all figure out why one is more popular than the other.

    • Andrew Allison

      Close but, in fact, liberals come with good intentions to be paid for with OPM — and as the Iron Lady famously pointed out, and Greece has recently confirmed, it eventually runs out.

      • JR

        Yes. The conservative a$$hole has to explain why your cool liberal Uncle always has to bum a little cash for…. expenses. That’s part of liberal Uncle’s appeal. He can make the Squares pay for his cool lifestyle.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Well, since the full take in the WSJ is behind the paywall, we can’t read it. But, the messaging problem from conservatives is the reality of their policies, not the lipstick or lack thereof on the pig. We have all heard of the conservatives’ “passionate concern for those who may lose a job” because of minimum wage. It is not passionate concern. It is business community hype. It has never been anything else. Too bad WRM is into dressing up this lying.

    We have all heard how it’s better for more and more employees to be temps with fees to an agency instead of dues to a union. We have all heard how reducing Donald Trump’s taxes will fix middle-aged people stuck at McDonald’s. We have all heard how selling unspecified and minimally-regulated insurance products across state lines will keep people out of medical bankruptcy. We have all heard of how making 22-year-old kids “supervisors” so they can’t earn overtime is the way to go. THERE IS NO MESSAGING THAT FIXES THE STINK ON THIS STUFF.

    • Boritz

      In the business forecast: Crisis shortage of orphans for coal mines and steel mills threatens productivity say captains of industry.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Beats me what you’re talking about. There are a LOT of ways to interpret that.

        1) Captains of industry never said it, or maybe they once did.
        2) We SHOULD have child orphans working in mines or mills to thwart Chinese competition.
        3) Coal is in decline due to natural gas anyway.
        4) Who knows?

    • CapitalHawk

      Completely agree. This is why the minimum wage should apply to all workers, whether independent contractors or employees and be much higher – like $100 per hour. No wait, $1,000 per hour. Wait, $10,000 per hour – YES! At $10,000 per hour, even a minimum wage worker will make $400,000 per week – thus allowing them a living wage, stimulating the economy and eliminating poverty in one feel swoop! This is so easy and obvious, I don’t understand why no one has thought of it before.

      • FriendlyGoat

        You said “completely agree”, and then your mind got lost, I guess. Somehow it sounds like “completely disagree”.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service