Conservatives and Their Problems, in Bullet List Form

In his “Morning Jolt” newsletter, National Review’s Jim Geraghty gives a great, succinct description of what conservatives believe, and why their beliefs present particular challenges to, you know, getting elected:
  • If you’re an able-bodied adult, we want you to go out and find a job for yourself, and work for a living. We’re increasingly convinced that government job-training programs are either a waste of time or hopelessly ineffective. The very best job-training program is an actual job, giving you experience and skill development to help you get a better job later on. 
  • We want you to save for your own retirement; we see that the current Social Security system only works if the population endlessly expands and lifespans stay short, and so we would rather replace it all with 401(k)s.
  • We wish we could bring market forces into health care, so that you shopped around for non-emergency medical services, and sought out the best value for the lowest price, creating pressure on health-care providers to keep prices down.
  • We want you to wait until you’re married to have children, and once you have children, we want you to stick with your spouse whenever feasible. We want you to recognize that there are some things in life that are more important than your own happiness — perhaps none more important than the well-being of your children.
  • We want you to have your choice of schools for your children, but it’s up to your kids to pick a major and career path that will allow them to earn a living for the rest of their life. We have no sympathy for those with Masters Degrees in Puppetry.
  • The world has evil people in it, both here and abroad, and some confrontations with that evil are inevitable. Fate and chance may require you to take your own protection into your own hands.
  • Ultimately, the quality of your life is up to you. Yes, fate, chance, genes, luck, and the family we’re born into play big roles. But ultimately, no government program is ever going to get you to the life you want to live. 

Here’s the big problem: This is a particularly hard message to win with during economic hardship and anxiety. 

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In short, our message is, “you have a responsibility to take care of yourself” at a time when A) some of our fellow Americans never developed the ability, skills, or inclination to take care of themselves or B) they may want to, but the economic environment — layoffs, sluggish hiring, stagnant wages, employers preferring part-time workers — makes them feel less capable of self-sufficiency than ever.

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