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How to be a Compassionate Conservative

The words ‘compassionate’ and ‘conservative’ are not often seen together in modern political rhetoric. Corrupt politicians on both sides of the aisle have twisted and tainted the conservative message so badly that it is almost unrecognizable from the ideals of the Founding Fathers of which our country was based upon. Those ideals, of course, being individual liberty and economic freedom for everyone living in the United States of America, regardless of sex, race, or other identifiers. The only way to restore the conservative message and win converts to the fight for liberty is to return to a conservative message that is built upon compassion.

Leftists today have monopolized the message of compassion – the emotional argument.  They preach about tolerance and safety. They fool voters with promises of providing healthcare and education to everybody no matter your financial situation. And they want to punish those evil business owners who keep holding you back from all the success you deserve. These types of messages strike a certain chord with people that creates an emotional response, and countering these points with a rational or economic argument only gives the leftists ammunition to continue portraying conservatives as heartless and evil.

So, if we can’t win voters over by countering the Left’s empathetic tactics with logic and reason, what should Conservatives do?

A common method in sales is to lead the potential buyer to your solution before you even try to sell them on your product or service. This is a great way to win converts when discussing political theory as well. Take their emotional argument and examine it. Walk through the logic from start to finish. Lead the listener through a logical explanation of their views and show the ultimate consequences of progressive policies.  Leftist positions are indefensible and immoral when led to their logical conclusion. By showcasing how these policies actually hurt the very people they are designed to help, any advantage they have in presenting the emotional argument is removed.

Let’s examine the minimum wage as an example. Labor is a resource, just as any raw material is for businesses, and employers must compete for it. When the minimum wage is raised, the cost of labor rises for every business, both big and small. The majority of businesses operate on extremely tight margins, and when labor costs rise, they are left with only two options to continue operation.

1) Reduce the number of employees and/or the number of hours for the employees.

Or

2) Increase the price of their product or service.  

Likewise, there are only two outcomes that can result from these policies. Either the employee suffers or the consumer suffers.

The employee that is fired, or has hours reduced, is the one who has the least responsibility – the employee whose productivity is worth less than the minimum wage requirement. Well, who makes up this group of unskilled, unproductive labor? It is those who have not graduated high school, those who have never had a job, and those who have no other means of providing for themselves.  

Additionally, those consumers who benefit from the product or service that the business provides suffer higher prices. This artificially induced minimum wage, enforced by the government, is harmful to the employer, the employee, and the consumer, decreasing the standard of living for everyone.

Minimum wage sounds nice on the surface, but when led to its logical conclusion, the unintended circumstances of this policy end up hurting the very groups it is intended to help. The right minimum wage, as described in this video by PragerU, should be $0. It’s counterintuitive to what leftists would have you believe, but it informs the viewer that the true nature of a minimum wage is not compassionate.

In contrast, conservative values, when led to their logical conclusion, end only in the interest of mankind. Continuing on the minimum wage example, in a truly free-market society with principles rooted in conservative values, there would be no minimum wage.  The employer and the employee would be left to voluntarily agree to a wage that would mutually benefit each party. The employer would be able to pay a lower wage for the unproductive, unskilled labor, while that unproductive, unskilled laborer has the opportunity to learn a skill and become more valuable to an employer.

This creates more opportunity for more people than any other system in the world. It simultaneously lifts people out of poverty and creates more wealth and prosperity for everyone, thus raising the overall standard of living in the society. This is the practical application of personal liberty and economic freedom.

So what is a compassionate conservative?

It is someone who believes in personal liberty and treating everyone with respect, regardless of their age, sex, or other identifiers. It is someone who understands the morality and the ultimate benefit of a free market society that is run by conservative values. They are the people who will lead the fight against statism and tyranny, and win converts to the glorious voice of liberty. They are the people who will have the most powerful impact and the clearest voice in a society full of subjective morality and misunderstood principles. The compassionate conservative is what we all need to aspire to be.

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About Josh Bernhardt (2 Articles)
Josh is a senior at Iowa State University, studying Aerospace Engineering. He became interested in politics at a young age thanks to influences from his father, an economist at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Through careful study of people such as Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, and John Locke, he gained a passion for political theory and the organization of social systems. This has led him to begin as a writer for PragerU Writer's Squad.

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