Conservatives can master personal well-being and help build a better America by adopting the simple ideals of fairness, faith, family, community, and meaningful work, Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, tells Newsmax TV
Brooks — author of "The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America,"
published by Broadside Books — says the strategy will help disconsolate conservatives looking for a better path in life and political independents who find neither party appealing.
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"'Fairness' … has been appropriated by liberals for a long time. One of the reasons I wrote the book is I want conservatives to steal the language and icons of the other side and really start to win," Brooks said Wednesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show."
"Liberals talk about fairness as equalizing incomes more. We understand true fairness as rewarding hard work and merit and personal responsibility. We should be warriors for fairness because the truth is there's not enough fairness in this country.
"Fairness is going the wrong direction. Let's take it back. Let's take back fairness, let's take back compassion, let's take back social justice. This book actually shows readers how to do it. If they read this, they'll never lose another debate to a liberal about poverty."
Brooks says that after years of focusing on economic growth and traditional social values, conservatives need to focus on a new movement of fighting poverty, promoting equal opportunity, celebrating earned success, and valuing spiritual enlightenment.
"There's this whole idea that as conservatives we don't care about the vulnerable. The idea that's put forth is that liberals, they may be soft headed but they care about poor people. We, on the other hand, we think that poor people are moochers and takers," he said.
"That's not true. How do we disabuse people in that notion? We got to start talking about poverty. Half the country's been left behind with a zero economic growth rate. These are people who need greater opportunity. The left, what are they offering?
"They're offering arguments about income equality. Americans don't care about that. These are hobby horse arguments of [Sen.] Bernie Sanders or something. We truly have a popular argument about opportunity and equality, but people are not going to know we care about it unless they see our conservative hearts because they know that we're fighting for people who are in poverty, people who need to get ahead."
Brooks said his book offers proof that conservatives help pull more people out of poverty than any other system and "any other set of ideas in the history of humanity."
"American conservative ideas have pulled 2 billion people out of poverty since you and I were a child. It's incredible. The proof is in there," he told Steve Malzberg.
Brooks said he is "happier than I've been in a long time" with the current crop of candidates seeking the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
"With the Republicans, we've got a better slot of candidates that are talking about poverty. They're talking about ordinary people who are struggling much better than we've had in a long, long time," he said.
"All the top-tier candidates from Jeb Bush to Scott Walker to Marco Rubio and to Ted Cruz, they're actually optimistic about what the country can do and they want to help people who've been left behind particularly left behind by President [Barack] Obama's economy."
Brooks' Washington, D.C.-based group, AEI, is a private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics and social welfare.
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