December 27, 2008
The Conservative Elevator StoryBy Christopher Chantrill
Sometimes you have to admit it. There is nothing new under the sun. Chicago politicians are still as venal and corrupt as they always were, and it is thoughtful of Gov. Blagojevich (D-IL) to remind us. It is also salutary to read that people had been tipping off the Securities and Exchange Commission for years about accused Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff (D-contributor) but they never did anything about it. What's the point, you might ask, of regulators if they don't regulate?
So much for hope and change.
But we conservatives must not be distracted by these ephemera. We must continue to build our winter quarters at Valley Forge, and get to work thinking and training for the next campaign cycle. Nothing has changed in our national politics. Our Democratic friends still just want to grow the government.
Let us return to our conservative off-site vision statement, complete with expensive consultant to facilitate our discussions. We have already come up with a brilliant Vision Statement and a punchy Mission Statement. Now it is time to come up with an Elevator Story.
You all know what an elevator story is. It's the answer you give to someone when they ask what you do. You don't just say: Oh, I work for Microsoft. You tell them a story about what you are doing and why it is important, and you do it all in 30 seconds, the time that you might find yourself in an elevator with Mr. Big.
But how? Here's a good approach, developed by Brian Freeman and Sean Mcdonnell. You structure your elevator story like a screenplay:
So let's get started. Let's say my liberal friend asks me: "Why are you a conservative, Chris?"
The first thing to do is to set the stage.
Good question, Bob. In America today, conservatives believe, government is cruel, corrupt, unjust; and it just costs too much. And we conservatives just can't stand there and do nothing.
Isn't this just about how conservatives feel? The current welfare state for which, usgovernmentspending.com tells us, the American people cough up $900 billion a year for government pensions, $950 billion for government health care, $875 billion for government education, and $470 billion for government welfare, every year, is an abomination. Never mind the corrupt patronage system so brazenly operated by Gov. Blagojevich and pals; let us think about the cruelty of a system that has destroyed the family in the underclass, the injustice of screwing the working poor and rewarding the non-working poor.
Now let us set up the Conflict:
Liberals created this monster, Bob. Liberals believe that compulsory government programs are the way to help the poor and comfort the afflicted. But they are wrong. Government is not compassion. Government is force. You cannot solve social problems by force.
This is the basic conflict between liberals and conservatives. Liberals believe you can solve social problems with government programs. Conservatives believe that you must solve them person-to-person, face-to-face. Compassion means, literally, "suffering with." Getting paid to run a government program to help the poor with tax dollars isn't "suffering with."
The conflict sets up the conservative-based Resolution of the problem:
Conservatives believe in society not as social force but as social cooperation. That's why we must reform the welfare state into the welfare society. In the welfare society the American people, not liberal experts, will be in charge of their health care, their children's education, the comfort of the afflicted, and the decent provision of pensions.
Liberals believe in the welfare state; conservatives believe in the welfare society. That issues out of the basic conservative belief, initially voiced by Edmund Burke, that "To love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of publick affections."
Conservatives want to appeal, wherever possible, to our better angels rather than fight with inner demons. Conservatives believe that "social problems" must be solved by people in their little platoons--family, neighbors, friends, associations, and charities--people influencing other people for good. That means no more of Mark Steyn's adult adolescents. We can't just pay our taxes and complain about the government. We have to get involved and help people, from the inside out. First you help family, then neighbors, and then your co-workers, fellow union members, fellow church members.
If conservatives don't stand for reform the welfare state, then who will?
The result, of course, is the happy Outcome:
With conservative reforms America will truly become that shining city on a hill, "still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom."
So there is our Elevator Story. The current situation is intolerable. Liberals are to blame. The solution is to get government out of our lives and put people back in. And the future is glorious, just as Ronald Reagan promised. What's not to like?