How Conservatives Should Respond to 5 Common Liberal Critiques

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Conservatives must persuade more Americans who are not conservative that our ideas have merit. Whatever happens in November, Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign has led too many people to believe that conservatism is defined by overt immorality. Not so.

Yet liberal populists are successfully characterizing conservatism as anachronistic. They would have independents believe that our ideology and modernity are mutually exclusive. Today, especially in blue or purple state cities, conservatives are expected to hide their beliefs in polite company. And while it can be fun to do the opposite, the point remains: conservatism is under siege. To break the siege, we must articulate our views more effectively. In that vein, here are five responses we should offer to liberal critiques.

Responses to Critique 1: Conservatives Don’t Care About the Poor

Opportunity Lives proves the vacuous nature of this particularly unpleasant critique. After all, the raison d’etre of this website is proposals for individual empowerment. But there are specific ways conservatives want to increase opportunities for our poorest citizens.

First, we support removing obstacles to the energy revolution. Doing so would create tens of thousands of well-paying, sustainable jobs while reducing electricity costs. Conservatives also support less-wealthy Americans in cutting their grocery bills. Conservatives are suggesting serious alternatives to Obamacare’s now-proven immorality. Conservative support for the poor is also shown by mathematical honestly towards and priority focus on entitlement reform. We want to avert the nation’s looming insolvency and protect the poorest Americans from destitution. Too many liberals pretend the debt doesn’t matter.

Conservative support for the poor is also shown by mathematical honestly towards and priority focus on entitlement reform

Responses to Critique 2: Conservatives Don’t Care About Minorities

True, in recent decades, too many conservatives deprioritized minority issues. Yet in 2016, advancing the legacy of Lincoln and Republican support for the Civil Rights Act, conservatives are behind an ideas-revolution to increase minority opportunities and improve the services minorities receive from government. Take Opportunity Lives’ landmark Comeback series. We’re also advancing criminal justice reforms, and confronting the causes of black-on-black violence in our inner cities. Broaching these topics — too often ignored for reasons of political cowardice — we’re also outlining specific proposals to strengthen police-minority relations. Finally, we’recalling out our fellow conservatives when they dishonor our fellow citizens. Conservatism is rooted in inclusiveness and we must prove it to be color-blind.

Responses to Critique 3: Conservatives Serve Special Interests

Yes, some conservatives serve special interests. As do some liberals. But when it comes to the marginal level of policy costs versus benefits, conservative ideas serve the people.

And increasingly we’re highlighting our own failings where conservative cronyism does occur. Consider the ethanol-energy and defense sectors. And we’re looking in the mirror. Facing globalization, we now recognize the need for greater efforts to help workers learn the skills they will need in a rapidly changing economy. There’s a great need for honest conservative introspection joined to leadership. In major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco, and states such as California and Illinois, Democratic Party special interests are wreaking havoc.

When it comes to the marginal level of policy costs versus benefits, conservative ideas serve the people

Responses to Critique 4: Conservatives Don’t Compromise

Thanks to the work of committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), all 27 of the bills that passed through the Judiciary Committee did so with bipartisan support. But that’s just the start. In February, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) led the Senate to pass an important and overwhelmingly bipartisan-supported — if somewhat technical! — customs bill. In April, under the leadership of Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Senate passed a landmark energy bill by 85 votes to 12. In May, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) succeeded in passing a bill to restructure Puerto Rick’s debt. In July, President Obama signed into law a Republican-led effort to address the national opioid addiction crisis. Also this summer, the Senate and House unanimously passed bills to allow terrorism lawsuits against Saudi Arabia.

This is a marked departure from how the Senate operated when Democrats were in the majority, and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) controlled which legislation could be brought to a vote. We all have different views about these different bills, but they prove one thing for certain: Republicans are leading the way on congressional bipartisanship. Still, there’s more to do. Congress, for example, has untapped opportunities on oceanic-environmental issues.

Responses to Critique 5: Conservatives Don’t Care About the Young

From health care costs to the massive debt, young Americans face a challenging future. And via the misconceptions of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and the dishonesty of Labor Secretary Tom Perez, many young Americans have come to believe that conservatives are opposed to economic justice and opportunity. In response, conservatives are outlining the ways in which Democratic polices — especially from the far-left — would be catastrophic for young Americans.

More importantly, we’re offering a different path to opportunity. We’re focused on improving productivity, unleashing innovation and empowering the private sector. But conservatives are also leading the way in our philosophical defense of free speech. Challenging authoritarian tendencies towards political-correctness on college campuses and in broader public discourse, we’re explaining why free speech is non-negotiable. Of course, we must do more here, such as confronting the foolish argument that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling should be overturned.

Conservatives must be both intellectually introspective and bold in the pursuit of our beliefs. History is on our side. From Scandinavia to Venezuela, socialism ultimately hurts everyone — except the elite. Yet as the Vietnamese will attest, capitalism is the best path to better lives for all.

Tom Rogan is a foreign policy columnist for National Review, a domestic policy columnist forOpportunity Lives, a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and a senior fellow at the Steamboat Institute. Follow him on Twitter @TomRtweets.

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