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Does it bother you that people would give up essential freedoms before they’d give up their iPhone?
While 26 percent of Americans report that they can’t live without their smartphone, only 20 percent of Americans say they can’t live without sex, according to this infographic compiled by FinancesOnline.com, a personal finance website.
It should bother you. Without essential freedoms, smart phones can be taken away or banned. And without those freedoms, the iPhone would never have existed. Technology innovations are a symptom of many things, and freedom is a the top of the list.
Why would people who cherish their handheld devices be so casual about the enabling condition for those devices?
We are the problem. Not what we believe, but the things we say and write.
Conservatives tend to sell their beliefs the way some engineers sell their products. We rattle off features. We repeat quotes that might have been effective in the 18th century. We talk about the Constitution as if anyone but us even knows why that’s important. They don’t.
If Steve Jobs had introduced the iPhone by describing the processing rate of its CPU or the materials comprising its battery, the iPhone would have sold about 1 million units. Half a billion dollars in sales is nothing to sneeze at, but an entire industry would never have happened.
No one bought the iPhone because of what the battery’s made of. No one bought the iPod because of the meticulous etchings of its motherboard.
People bought the iPhone because it made them feel special. They bought a connection with iconoclastic designers who worried about things like 1,000 songs in your pocket.They bought the iPhone because doing so connected them physically to company that makes insanely great products that people love. They didn’t buy what Apple made; they bought why Apple made it.
Consider the difference in these two pitches:
- We believe in Constitutionally limited government.
- We believe that every American has inherent, God-given value and deserves the dignity of meaningful work and the freedom to pursue his own happiness.
Both pitches are really saying the same thing. The first is what. The second is why. Further, the second pitch is a “why” that almost no one could object to. I’ll go further—it’s a “why” almost every American will champion.
No one outside our little circle has a mental model of what “Constitutionally limited government” looks like. (Only 19 percent of Americans support the tea party.) And it’s not their job to develop one. Everyone has a mental model of the dignity of meaningful work and the freedom to pursue happiness.
No one outside our little circle understands precisely what we mean by “Constitutionally limited government.” Most people would agree with the idea of constitutionally limited government, but the persuadable population assumes we already have one. And 50 percent of American voters are persuadable.
Most Americans do understand that a welfare check is no substitute for a pay check. Most Americans can feel the pain of unemployment, even if they’ve never directly experienced it. Most American have felt the frustration of constraints imposed by an overactive government.
Conservatism is a smart phone for your life. We should sell it that way.
Conservatism is jobs and justice, freedom and fulfillment and happiness on a popsicle stick.
We’re not selling an abstract economic theory or an 18th century book. We’re offering you the chance to own your own life.
- Do you want a job?
- Do you want a paycheck that’s not missing a zero or two because of taxes?
- Do you want the freedom to quit your job and start your own gig with a reasonable expectation of success?
- Do you want your kids to be financially better off than you?
- Do you want your kids to enjoy at least as much freedom to guide their own lives as you’ve had?
That’s what we offer. We reject the idea that poor people are burdens to managed. Instead, we believe that all people are assets to the community who deserve the dignity of meaningful work and the freedom to own their own lives. We believe that productive people who experience the blessings of work are more likely to become active members of the community, looking out for themselves, their families, and their neighbors.
I believe in Constitutionally limited government. But I also realize 81 percent of Americans have no idea what that means or why it’s important.
I believe thatevery person deserves the dignity of meaningful work and the freedom to responsibly enjoy the benefits of that work. And that enough people understand what meaningful work and freedom are. If we talk to the persuadables about why we believe, we will dominate elections and policy. If talk only about our features, we will remain an angry and frustrated remnant.
Why does this burden fall on us? Because we understand the why, the what, and the how of freedom. History has chosen us for this challenge. We should be grateful.
What do you think? How would Steve Jobs pitch the American Dream?