The moral need for conservatism

Posted on September 15, 2015 in Governance Debates – Opinion/Columnists
September 14, 2015.   By Anthony Furey, Postmedia Network

Another federal campaign, another missed opportunity to sell the moral virtues of conservatism.

Political candidates who embrace more economic freedom over less should speak with a certain confidence that they are the ones offering not just the brighter future for voters, but the more caring option.

Yet too often, conservative candidates allow the left to frame the debate and box them in as heartless.

Stephen Harper is a classic example of this. The incumbent prime minister, who has never been accused of being too cuddly, is far more at home speaking about raw economic data than the real human stories that lie beneath this data.

“You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them,” Schoolmaster Gradgrind exclaims at the beginning of Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, sounding like a typical conservative politician.

But voters don’t just want appeals to reason. Reason doesn’t equal caring in the minds of the electorate. Clearly an added sell is also needed. An appeal to emotion.

One of the speakers at the Manning Networking Conference earlier this year stressed this point to a gathering of big tent conservatives.

“Conservatives can, and should, regain the moral high ground on social change,” argued Iain Duncan Smith, an MP and cabinet minister from the United Kingdom.

“The simple truth is that we cannot be prepared to see a growing number of our fellows citizens fall into an underclass of hopelessness and despair. For without them we will be unable to create a modern competitive economy.”

In other words, we’re all in this together. We need to all work together in the free market to collectively raise our standard of living.

The economic conservative path to widespread prosperity is proven to be the most effective. Therefore it’s also the most caring.

It’s always been a false distinction that less government means less heart. Studies are proving this more and more.

On Monday the Fraser Institute released a study showing Canada was among the top 10 most economically free countries in the world.

We also know that without economic freedom, average people suffer.

That means more central planning, more government, more top-down control – it all makes people worse off, not better off.

The best example is how the quality of life for regular people in China improved after the communist country started allowing capitalist practises in the 1970s.

The U.S. think-tank The Heritage Foundation compiles an annual economic freedom index. In a recent report it noted that while “the global economy has moved towards greater economic freedom over the past two decades, real world GDP has increased by about 70%, and the global poverty rate has been cut in half, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.”

There you have it. The strongest moral argument for economic conservatism around: Economic freedom ends poverty.

For us to succeed together we don’t need intrusive government programs dictating how it’s done (not only does the evidence prove these fail, but that many people are actually harmed in the process).

We need governments to back off and allow innovative human beings to collaborate and grow the pot.

It’s time conservatives developed enough confidence and swagger to argue that it’s the left who, by not embracing these proven truths with more gusto, are the ones who appear to not care.

It’s time economic conservatives wrestled control of the moral high ground.

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One Response to “The moral need for conservatism”

  1. Morals and conservatism, two themes one would be surprised to see together in an article, as was I. The writer presents many well articulated, and seemingly flawless arguments. However upon a second reading, and one google search, it became evident that not only did he lack supports, but his lone supporting research (on which this article is heavily based) came from a most biased of sources. It also became evident that his notions surrounding social change, standards of living, and intrusive governments were quite unsound.
    Throughout the article the word ‘studies’ is constantly thrown around, without mention of any particular source. Until he presents that the global poverty rate has been cut in half, a statistic acquired from the U.S think-tank The Heritage Foundation. What he fails to mention about this think-tank is that it is actually a very influential conservative think-tank. Something, I would consider worth mention, especially in a political article.
    The writer’s argument that conservatives should regain moral high ground on social change, gives way to much reflection on what Harper’s conservative government has done for social change to earn such high moral ground. Personally it would seem that Harper has done mostly detrimental changes for the social. Such changes would include the many cuts to social programs, which in effect have reinforced the divide between the rich and the poor.
    Another notion the writer argues on a moral standing, is the conservative governments improvements on raising standards of living. I can agree with the writer here because our current government has most definitely made the rich richer. But if he’s arguing for the standards of every Canadian citizen, one would only have to take a look around at the failing infrastructure of our major cities in order to represent and reflect the standards to which this government inaugurates a ‘standard of living’.
    “We don’t need intrusive government programs dictating how it’s done”; By framing government programs as intrusive, the writer is contradicting himself because it is these very programs that raise our standard of living. These programs are ever more essential to the conservative ‘moral free economy’ because they make-up for those left out by this economy.
    Finally, I’d have to disagree with Anthony Furey that it’s time conservatives claimed their moral high ground and argue that it’s time conservatives reevaluate the basic concepts of their very framework.
    And in reflection, would the moral high ground not be prioritizing the people and their welfare before the welfare of the economy?


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