In 1960, Russell Kirk unleashed “The Conservative Mind,” a multi-century review of conservative thought, solidifying the conception that conservatism is an intellectual ideology, founded in fact, grounded on historical experience, and constructed with logic. Conservatism is argued, but hardly arguable, since it is eminently rational.
Nevertheless, many Americans resisted its dogma, clinging to a lifestyle that embraces emotion, compassion and a view of government as “what we do together.”
Today, the divide between conservatives and liberals seems broader than ever, but, at least anecdotally, when folks switch sides, they tend to move from the Left to the Right, rather than the other way. The birth of social media has been a boon to distribution of conservative ideas, but it comes with a wicked backhand — too often delivered to the cheek of a liberal rival.
Arthur Brooks, perhaps gallantly, suggests that liberals are not our rivals, but rather embryonic conservatives in need of nurture. His new book, The Conservative Heart, offers a debate manual, not for crushing our enemies and driving them from the field, but for winning hearts and minds.
Brooks sat down for an interview with me recently at RedState Gathering in Atlanta, where he said several counterintuitive things about how to “win” the debate. If you find yourself rebelling against, or even ridiculing, Brooks’ thesis, consider that his objective is not to make conservatism something it’s not, nor to masquerade as someone you’re not, but rather to reflect the ideology as it truly is, to win a hearing for your ideas, and ultimately to win the “battle.”
The Conservative Heart lays out a vision for a better world, and equips us all to lead others to it.