A robust debate is under way about the future of conservatism, and there are plenty of lessons to be learned from the 2012 election and current trends in American politics. Unfortunately, the conversation so far has largely consisted of calls for modifying basic conservative positions, especially on social policy, and for targeting government spending and programs to appeal to particular demographic groups.
But layering new programs on top of an existing bloated framework is little more than low-budget liberalism. This approach fails substantively and will not widen support for the conservative message. Conservatives should reject the assumption that government handouts are the way to win friends and influence people.