To win the argument, we have to elevate the argument. It is not about money or economics, it is about doing what is right, what leads to the best human experience; it is about being virtuous and right.
According to Brooks, people look at government policies based on their impact on efficiency, fairness and freedom. Can the government carry out those policies efficiently, are they fair and do they affect our freedom?
Policy arguments should focus not on money and economics, but on our country's virtues. How does policy impact efficiency, fairness and freedom?
The impact on efficiency is the easiest to understand, but often overlooked.
Newt Gingrich, my father and the presidential candidate, recently noted, "American Express pays 0.03 percent in fraud. Medicaid in New York state under federal guidelines pays more than 10 percent of your money in fraud." Clearly this is not efficient.
Fairness can be confusing, as both sides often use the word. "We need a sense of fairness in our tax code," stated Obama.
This requires for the argument to be expanded to include how fairness is defined. Is it fair to provide equal outcomes for everybody? When people believe that effort affects outcomes, then they do not believe it is fair for people to end up in the same place regardless of effort, but believe merit should be rewarded.
According to Brooks, Obama must believe "we don't get rewarded for merit," so a fair tax code to Obama would require those earning more to pay more. The American people believe that our free enterprise system rewards merit, however, and there is virtue in rewarding performance. Therefore Obama's tax argument is wrong for the majority of Americans.
Freedom is the third fundamental argument, and this can be used to argue about estate taxes (we should be free to leave money to our family, our friends, our charity or our cat), as well as gun control (free to bear arms).
The question is: Can conservatives win the argument and therefore the vote in 2012?