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Conservative Off-site: Mission Statement A Conservative Narrative

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Conservative Off-site: Elevator Story

by Christopher Chantrill
December 25, 2008 at 11:50 am


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, 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:

1. Stage setting: What’s the situation at the start?
2. Conflict: What problems do the characters face?
3. Resolution: How is the conflict or problem resolved?
4. Outcome: How is life different as a result?

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?

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity

Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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