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The Conservative Heart by Arthur C. Brooks

By Alex Kinnaman
Junior Communications Major from Nampa, Idaho
Reviewed December 16, 2015

The Conservative Heart by Arthur C. Brooks presents the position of conservatives in America and what conservatives should be doing to make our country stronger. Arthur C. Brooks is the President of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and has done extensive research in order to build stronger policy for conservatives to create a stronger America. Brooks identifies the right for Americans to pursue happiness and believes that happiness is achieved through hard work and earned success. Brooks challenges the stereotypes associated with conservatives and communicates how they can better serve the American people through the values they maintain.

Brooks clearly identifies the problems in America and the political rhetoric that accompanies these issues and how it often puts conservatives on the wrong side of the issue to solve the problem. Brooks presents a strong argument through his credibility as President of AEI and his life experiences to communicate potential solutions to these issues. Brooks claims that conservatives are the kinds of people that want to help those in need and have the solutions to create real change, but are often not approaching the issue in a way that inspires Americans to follow their leadership.

    Brooks presents his position by providing examples of people, towns, and countries that have experienced similar problems to the ones facing America today. The examples exhibit characteristics of the American dream; Brooks argues that the ability to work is a blessing rather than a punishment and a change in this attitude would help to fix the issue of reliance on welfare programs. Brooks demonstrates this idea through an account of the Doe Fund in New York, started by George McDonald. The Doe Fund is a program that helps the homeless population of New York by providing them with a job and the opportunity to learn skills to support themselves. Each member of the Doe Fund program starts by “pushing the bucket” or cleaning up the streets of New York and then eventually move into field where they learn technical skills in a field such as mechanics or electrical. This organization creates work as a reward rather than  a punishment and allows the members of the program to build pride in their work and job. By giving them jobs and allowing them to work up through the system they learn skills to support themselves and the value of working hard, the job gives each member purpose. The Doe fund has helped over 22,000 people and is changing the way that New York is handling its homeless population. This example upholds Brooks’ ideas that we shouldn’t be giving people a hand out, we should be giving them a hand up to make their lives better.

The Conservative Heart enhanced my understanding of the issues facing Americans and the potential solutions that could be implemented. The use of personal examples, stories, and comparisons allow for an easier understanding of the current political culture in America. This work can be appreciated by anyone that holds conservative values, but the stories and examples make the work and its arguments accessible to any reader interested in politics. While Brooks has a bias towards the conservative viewpoint, Brooks presents his argument in a way that allows the reader to analyze the position and form their own opinions. I enjoyed The Conservative Heart and the viewpoint presented by Brooks. I believe the methods presented in the books would be a great way to appeal to voters through compassion and live our lives to create a better America.

    The Conservative Heart primarily focuses on our political freedom and how we can use that freedom to better the lives of those around us. As Christians we are called to help those in need and I believe The Conservative Heart presents viewpoints that strongly support the values we hold as Christians. Arthur C. Brooks believes the traditional values of conservatives reflect that they want to help people in need, and the United States should implement programs that upholds these values. Brooks’ final point is that conservatives need to learn how to better express the content of their characters in order to better serve the American people. The message of The Conservative Heart is to pursue happiness and to use our political freedom to help others pursue their own happiness.