Conservative Values Still Matter

Of course they do. They reflect reality better than other perspectives.
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11/26/2018 WSJ
By Bobby Jindal

The paladins of political correctness continue to enforce prohibitions on taboo ideas on campus, in the workplace and in the national conversation. Thankfully, many brave and vocal conservatives remain willing to question conventional wisdom. For the remainder, a little hypocrisy can work wonders as they seek to reconcile radical liberal orthodoxy with their own observations and experiences. These conservatives, looking to survive, increasingly opt to “talk left” and “live right.”

Liberals rail against supposedly rampant structural inequalities, and cite disparate impacts as proof of inherent racism and sexism. Women and minorities are broadly disadvantaged, according to this perspective, due to the evils of “white privilege.” Structural bias counts more than individual effort, so that neither success nor failure is truly earned.

Yet, in red and blue states, parents warn their children not to blame their teacher for a bad grade, coaches counsel players not to blame the referee for a loss, and employees know that a bad boss is no excuse for shoddy work. There’s a reason Americans continue to flock to rags-to-riches stories and the ideal of the American dream in popular culture. Personal responsibility and effort aren’t substitutes for rigorous enforcement of antidiscrimination statutes, but the claim that economic outcomes are socially predetermined contradicts most people’s real-world experience and can sometimes become self-fulfilling.

Liberals embrace multiculturalism, claiming all cultures are at least morally and practically equivalent, while they also denigrate Western culture as intrinsically tied to a history of slavery and colonialism. College campuses are filled with students and professors arguing that America is the greatest threat to world peace and development. Yet despite the West’s imperfections, modern liberal democracy still offers the best governing system on earth to promote freedom and human dignity. Few women would willingly trade its equality for the female genital mutilations, child marriage, sex-selective abortions and other gender- based injustices found in other societies. Even a Churchillian acknowledgment from the left that American culture is the least-bad choice would be progress.

Liberals have championed the sexual revolution to overturn traditional mores around ethics and marriage, and to promote freedom from restraint as the ultimate sexual— though not economic—good. Pursuing pleasure and abandoning restraint make for popular bumper stickers, song lyrics and movie plots. Yet the benefits of monogamy and fidelity, for both adults and the children they bring into the world, have been demonstrated repeatedly.

The great contradiction is between what liberals claim to believe and the way they live their lives.

Marriage and intact families are correlated with higher incomes, stronger economic growth, upward mobility, higher workforce-participation rates, decreased child poverty and lower dropout rates. Indeed, marriage is most common and more enduring among affluent, educated Americans. Liberal elites would rather folks do as they say, rather than as they do.

Liberals criticize free-market capitalism as the cause of persistent inequality and environmental degradation. They see it as inferior to gentler, more-socialist economic systems. Democrats, and frankly many Republicans, no longer pretend the “era of big government is over,” and instead are competing to see who can expand government spending and regulation the fastest, starting with health care.

But capitalism has helped hundreds of millions of people across the world escape poverty. Democratic Party benefactors like George Soros and Michael Bloomberg made large fortunes as capitalists. Now that they’ve crossed the river of opportunity to the prosperous side, they want to blow up the bridge behind them. This is the ultimate hypocrisy.

Cognitive dissonance, mental agility, nuance, sophistication and other fancy terms describe the dilemma facing liberal students over whether to “believe their lying eyes” or their liberal professors. The left’s effort to shut down free and open debate and banish people with opposing views is a tacit admission that they lack confidence in their own arguments.

Conservatives are often described as underrepresented and under siege on college campuses and in newsrooms. Even as professors and students continue to be disproportionately liberal, conservatives should take comfort that their ideals concerning free markets, the American dream, the traditional family structure and liberal democracy continue to prove themselves on their merits to each rising generation.

Mr. Jindal served as governor of Louisiana, 2008-16, and was a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

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