Being right is simply not enough for city dwellers who wish to be cool or who like freebies from other people’s taxes. In response, conservatives must make subscribing to free-market ideas and policies much less difficult. This does not mean, as many have suggested since the November 2012 elections, caving to liberal ideology and doling out government freebies (ranging from amnesty to welfare to free contraceptives) in exchange for support from various racial, gender or age groups that increasingly make up larger portions of America’s urban population. It certainly does not mean, as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has declared, that conservatives should keep their mouths shut about a basic free-market tenet — that handouts from the nanny state create warped incentives and distort individual behavior.
Instead, free-market types should think more about new ways to broadcast their ideals not as an argument but as the way that life should be. For example, across America’s cities and college campuses, conservatives can think about organizing events and activities that would have wider social and cultural appeal than panel discussions, lectures, or policy papers on serious topics. The new gatherings could aim to attract large crowds by offering what is fun, interesting, and cool and convey free-market messages as the icing on the cake. After all, going to a concert, a parade, or a party featuring a celebrity or social icon who happens to be conservative would not require nearly the same courage as telling your feminist boss that you voted for Mitt Romney for president.
At the same time, conservatives can do more to convince the impoverished and the less fortunate that a more dignified life — one that does not involve forever drinking from the government trough — is possible. Consistently showcasing prominent individuals who have prevailed against the welfare state through hard work would be a good start.
Free-market ideals are worthy of a robust defense and often demand courage. Unfortunately, courage is not a character trait that everyone has. If courage is required from every disciple of the free market in America’s urban centers, those ideals will often be left undefended against the nanny state and its onslaught of handouts, or “gifts” purchased with taxpayer money. Courage from those willing to defend the free market in hostile territory will always be needed and should always be respected, but for everyone else, it is time to find ways to take courage out of the equation.