At the end of last week’s post, I wrote that the GOP should “Create a federal policy platform that focuses on social stability. As a start…
- Update the minimum wage and index it to inflation.
- Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Ensure affordable healthcare by improving the Affordable Care Act.
- Promote family stability by investing in early childhood development and education.
- Expand community college access for retraining adults who are losing jobs to automation.”
One of the lessons I learned in life comes from high school. During my freshman year, I was one of the von Trapp children in the Sound of Music. When Maria comes to the family and introduces them to music, she starts with teaching them scales and the lyric goes:
Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When we read we begin with A, B, C; when we sing we begin with Do, Re, Mi.
The lesson I took from this as I continued in life was that to help explain ideas, one needs to start at the beginning to help explain the ‘why’. Some may call it providing context.
As I think about it, part of the appeal of conservatism for many is that it places responsibility on the individual for one’s decisions and life outcomes. And at the absolute end of the day, I think it is true that people need to be held responsible for their choices. But what many who subscribe to conservatism miss is ‘the beginning.’ And the beginning is a hierarchy of needs we all have, which Maslov describes as:
- Air, Food & Water
- Shelter & Warmth
- Safety & Security
- Physical & Mental Health
- Employment & Financial Security
- Love & Friendship
As we progress through life’s stages (infant, toddler, Pre-K, elementary, middle, and high school, young adult, adult), we receive more opportunities to create our future and make our dreams reality. But each stage builds upon one another. As a result, to create our dreams and have ultimate responsibility for our life, we need to go back to the beginning, and ask:
- How do we create the type of social stability necessary to support healthy growth and development so individuals have agency for their life’s outcomes?
For me, that is the basis of the policy recommendations I put forth last week. The policies help provide stability for families (however defined) which are the basic building block of human development and society. Moreover, these policies are designed to help ensure that an individual’s hierarchy of needs are met no matter where one is in the spectrum of life.
Conservatism should be about ideas that ensure people have freedom to pursue their dreams and are responsible for life’s outcomes. Unfortunately, during the past decade if not longer, policy has taken a back seat to the quest for power. It is time to place policy in the forefront again.