English: Governor Bobby Jindal at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After Mitt Romney’s comments about brown people loving free stuff, Bobby Jindal made an excellent point: conservatives need to win hearts by explaining precisely why they believe their policies are tailor-made to help the rich and poor. Reader, it doesn’t matter to me if you buy the premise that conservative policies, if done right, will bring about economic justice (isn’t that what folks often say about socialism?). What matters is that Bobby Jindal believes that, as do many rank and file everyday working Republicans. I don’t think Mitt Romney has ever believed it. I think George W. Bush probably did. I don’t think Karl Rove even things about such things.
Governor Jindal, here’s what has to happen. Show people that conservatives are committed to the economic freedom of the working poor, the out-of-work poor, the white and brown poor and everyone else. Take a bunch of Super Pac money and establish privately funded business incubators in urban cores across America. When they’re successful without government funding, you’ll have an argument, a thousand case studies, and, presumably, more Republicans. You’ll have donors wanting to replicate this subversive patronage in everywhere. If Democrats win in community centers, in church basements, in volunteer organizations, why how Republicans never, ever tried winning in cities through business development for people in poverty?
Is it because Republicans believe poor people are poor precisely because they are unable to be anything else? Because Republicans believe poor people are lazy, inept, unwilling to work and unable to succeed? I’m connecting narrative dots for you, here, GOP. Bobby, call me. I have a million of these.
For decades, the loudest Republican voices have been saying “the free market works and the free market will help poor people if you let the free market be free.” And for decades, the loudest Republican voices have been benefiting from a market that’s unfree by their own design (ahem, corporate welfare).
If the market isn’t free to begin with, and you’ve been party to that poorly-kept rhetorical secret and it’s gotten you is a bunch of rich people donating to your PACs and failing to resonate with anything that looks like “America,” why not take the same concept and apply to it to business development for the working poor?
There’s an old bit of narrative advice we all end up learning: it’s better to show than to tell. Show us your policies work. Show us you give a damn. We know many of you do. Show us you’re right. I’m talking about systemic change here, friends, from the other side of quasi-free-market conservatism. Think it can’t work?
That one party should be so clearly identified with (and beholden to) any particular monolith (class, race, geography etc) is piss poor for democracy. Let the Republicans have at community organizing, business mentoring, and so on. It will help the urban core (I don’t see how it could hurt) and it might help people realize that the false-choice narrative crammed down our throats by both major parties and their media proxies is, in fact, garbage.