Third, conservatives should engage aggressively and honestly in the debate over income and wealth inequality. The Left obsesses over those at the very top and won’t discuss how its own approach has devastated those at the bottom. Making Warren Buffett a little less wealthy will do nothing to stimulate wealth creation in poor households that don’t save, and more spending will not help those trapped in dismal inner-city schools with no job prospects. The conservative response should not be a little less redistribution or more efficient programs, but policies to strengthen the social and human capital that will empower everyone to move up the ladder of success. That focus, and those solutions, will appeal to key demographics in the future just as they have in the past.
This conservative message works in principle, works in practice, and would work politically too. It’s how we changed the debate and the politics of welfare. The great majority of poor Americans despise the numbing dependency of welfare, and the core conservative principles of strengthening families, expecting work in return for assistance, and regarding welfare as a springboard rather than a way of life enjoy broad support.