Over the past 20 years it has become increasingly clear that the conservative cause is being hindered by ideological boilerplate, otherwise known as the same old same old. Two prime examples are the generic conservative stances on education and trade.
The classic conservative stance on declining educational performance is to affix the blame on teachers. Sure, there are some bad apples, as there are in any profession, but our teachers, on the whole, are not the problem. The problem is an increasingly illiterate culture and hands-off parenting and parents, many of whom themselves are extreme dependency cases. Even children with the best, most motivated teachers get to spend only a few hours a day with them. The values, habits and attitudes children learn in the home 18 hours of the day are what shape their aptitude to focus, apply and learn.
Trade is another conservative peccadillo. Under the mantra of new-age economics—my term—countries have unhindered access to the U.S. market, but American companies get limited or restricted access to markets in places such Japan and China. China’s policy is that in order to sell in China a company has to build in China. Why haven’t our savants in Washington argued for a quid pro quo trading arrangement here? After all, we are not talking about a fire sale. The U.S. economy is still the largest in the world. Conservatives argue that free, basically one-way trade keeps the dollar strong and attracts capital, which creates jobs. In practice, more than 80 percent of the foreign capital flowing into the U.S. is used to buy existing assets, not build factories.
Conservatives need to re-think their stances on these two issues or risk further estrangement with both common sense and the American public.
Michael LeGault is the author of Think! And can be reached at michael
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