How Do We Win Victories for Liberty?

Here is an abbreviated version of a post by the Heritage Foundation’s Alex Adrianson:

That was the central question at this year’s Resource Bank. Here are some of the answers we came away with:

1. Get a Supreme Court that doesn’t do politics. Finding the right person to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court is the most important task ahead for the U.S. Senate.

2. Understand that most Americans most of the time are not going to listen to our policy sermon no matter how good it is.

If we think we are going to move people just by getting our policy arguments right, then we are going to be disappointed. By and large, people don’t listen to policy discussions because they don’t have time for it. They are rationally ignorant, and that is why style and attitude can win over substance.

What conservatives need is better and more principled communicators engaging at the retail level of politics—radio and television.

3. Find champions for our arguments like David Goldhill. Goldhill, who is now president of the Game Show Network, talks about health care not from the perspective of a policy analyst, but that of a health care consumer—one whose father died from a preventable infection but received an enormous bill anyway. He tells the story of how that experience prompted him to investigate what is wrong with health care. What he discovered is that health care has quality and cost problems because the patients are not the industry’s customers; rather, the government is, and the government does not know how to pay for value.

4. Stop asking politicians to do what is not in their political self-interest to do. Economist Walter Williams made the case that the reason Congress spends too much money is that the American people have come to expect the federal government to do too many things. We’re not going to cut spending by urging members of Congress to become budget cutters. Rather, we need to convince the American people to stop asking government to give them other people’s stuff.

5. Get Congress to reclaim its authority on regulatory matters. New York University law professor Richard Epstein made the case that the reason the administrative state strays so far from rule-of-law principles is that Congress charges administrative agencies with doing things that cannot be done with fixed, knowable rules—to determine, for example, the uses of public airwaves rather than merely regulating boundary conditions. The solution, said Epstein, is to get the underlying law right, and that requires Congress to bring property rights back into the picture.

6. Fight for free speech on campus. As Alan Charles Kors, co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), argued, there is in higher education a culture that is deeply hostile to Western civilization and its freedoms. That culture wants to transmit its hostility to your children—and it doesn’t want any intellectual competition as it does so. Open, honest inquiry in academia—and indeed a free society—depend on winning the fight for free speech. (FIRE, by the way, won this year’s Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship.)

Read more: The Insider

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