I'm afraid that Arthur C. Brooks is missing the point in his new book The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future
Not that there won't be a battle over the future of America.
In his book, trailed in The Washington Post in "America's New Culture War: Free Enterprise vs. Government Control," Brooks argues that Americans support free enterprise over government control by 70% to 30%. And he writes that it is not just money and materialism that drives the private sector but "earned success."
Earned success is the creation of value in our lives or in the lives of others. Earned success is the stuff of entrepreneurs who seek value through innovation, hard work and passion. Earned success is what parents feel when their children do wonderful things, what social innovators feel when they change lives, what artists feel when they create something of beauty.
There's just one problem with "The Battle" and "earned success." It is boy stuff. What about the girls?
The key challenge for conservatives is not to appeal to men. Men are already voting conservative and Republican. It is to appeal to women, particularly the single women who vote 70-30 for Democrats.
Free enterprise is a sublimation of the warrior code into the non-violent pursuit of victory in the pursuit of market share. Battle is the way that men go about social competition. Free enterprise vs. big government is a battle-oriented way of looking at our national problems.
We conservatives need to learn girl talk. We must propose not a "battle" but a "conversation." Men assemble on two sides to fight a battle to decide a conflict. Women gather for a conversation to "share" their dilemmas and negotiate a fair outcome.
Conservatives need to "share" with their liberal friends that big government is a terrible way to resolve dilemmas. Take education for instance. Every woman knows that her child is different and special. So why do we turn education of children over to big government and its one-size-fits-all philosophy?
Conservatives need to advance the idea that abortion doesn't just terminate the life of a child, but aborts the future. Abortion makes it harder for a woman to find love, for abortion makes the argument that sex is nothing special and should be available on demand.
Conservatives need to discuss with women how children suffer in any home that isn't headed by their married biological mother and father. Any other arrangement means more abuse of the children in it. When it's mother and boyfriend, the abuse may be six to 30 times the abuse in a married, biological home.
Men think in terms of strategic concentration. Women think in terms of sharing the wealth. Want to share the wealth? Much better to do it in a large extended family or through charitable kindness than in the wasteful corruption of Chicago-style big government.
"Earned success" is also a boy concept. Women don't "earn" anything; they don't have to. A man knows that he must prove himself before he can contribute to society. A woman is valuable and precious just because she is. She works and cares and loves and gives. What the world must do is give back to her, for there is nothing sadder and nothing angrier than a woman whose love and care has been spurned and wasted.
Yup. There's going to be a battle royal in the next few years. But conservatives need to see beyond that.
What we need is a great national conversation with women. We need to discuss with them how big government diminishes the future of their children and pollutes their lives with conflict and cruelty.
Should be a slam-dunk, fellas. I mean, it should be easy for everyone to share and come to agreement.