Conservatives view liberals’ political proposals as outlandish and wonder how anyone with a true knowledge of history can support them. That’s why conservatives discount those liberal proposals and assume that all people of reason will do the same thing. However, conservatives do not take into account that liberals have taken over our educational systems and are giving the next generation of Americans a false sense of history and a false sense of right and wrong. As a result, conservatives’ solutions are successfully mischaracterized unless conservatives make a point to explain their solutions to America’s problems in the context of who America really is.
For example, liberals preach that conservatives don’t care about other people, that they are selfish and want to keep all their money for themselves. The facts do not support that notion, but conservatives have done a poor job of explaining both their long history of caring for those in need and the advantages of the means by which they do so.
“The New York Times” published a story last November highlighting a research study that shows that people in Republican-leaning counties give more to charity than do those in Democratic-leaning counties. The article notes that “this finding fell within the broad political tendencies of traditional Republicans who favor less government intervention and more donations from the private sector to make up for the lack of government assistance.” In reality conservatives back up their ideas with their money. Additionally, they believe that the poor can be better helped by private charities that must work efficiently and effectively to remain viable. Conservatives need to make a point of comparing their model to the wastefulness of a government monolith whose existence is guaranteed by self-serving politicians who want to swell the size of government in order to boost their own position, power, and prestige.
Conservatives know that private charitable organizations are more effective because they are much closer to those who receive the aide than are a bunch of bored bureaucrats in a marble office building in a high-cost-of-living city like Washington, D.C., who create one-size-fits-all rules that are easily scammed. For example, an unmarried couple with two children, if they play the game right, can get up to $72,000 per year in government aid while a married couple with two children not only gets nothing from the government, but actually has to pay taxes to support the give-away to the scammers. In addition to being wasteful of tax dollars, the bureaucratic rules that allow this are a significant financial attack against the institution of marriage, which has since the beginning of time been the glue that holds societies together. Conservatives aren’t against helping people. They are just in favor of small governments and the sanctity of marriage. Conservatives just need to do a better job of expressing those ideas.
Conservatives believe that instead of just “giving a man a fish” (to feed him for today as is done by welfare entitlement programs) one should “teach the man to fish” so that he can feed himself (and his family) every day without help from others. In other words, conservatives want to make the needy self-sufficient so that they no longer need to be dependent on someone else’s charity. That is why conservatives support “workfare.” Conservatives can – if they would – make a pretty convincing argument that people who refuse to use charity to get themselves into a position where they don’t need charity are not worthy of charity. Government programs on the other hand just keep doling out somebody else’s money (our taxes) with little regard to whether it is doing any long term good. After all, bureaucrats get paid regardless of how effective their work is.
This fits with the finding of the aforementioned study that “wealth redistribution is higher in Democratic-leaning counties.” Taxes are higher and entitlement payouts are likewise higher. One may claim this as a take-from-the-rich-give-to-the-poor situation, but neither bureaucrats en massenor the government as a whole make a very good Robin Hood. Conservatives take the position that the people who earn the money deserve the right to distribute the money that they earn. And many conservatives distribute significant percentages of their money to help those who genuinely need help. Conservatives do NOT like to give money to those who make no effort to provide for themselves. Some people do need help. Conservatives have proven time and again that they will help those people. But conservatives deny that a bloated, disinterested, distant government is the best way to distribute that help.
Liberals want to make conservative ideals look bad because conservative ideals run counter to the liberals’ goals of remaking America. Conservatives must do a better job of presenting a credible picture of their superior solutions to America’s problems. Until they change that dynamic, their ideals will get short-changed in the arena of public perception. Conservatives don’t lose elections because there is anything wrong with their ideals; there isn’t. Conservatives lose elections because they do a poor job of articulating their ideals to the electorate.
Steve “Doc” Troxel, Ph.D.