Ellen Weaver

A True Conservative Warrior

October 30, 2015

Ellen Weaver

This week, Palmetto Promise partnered with our North Carolina friends at the Civitas Institute and the John Locke Foundation in hosting the president of the American Enterprise Institute, Dr. Arthur Brooks. I had the honor of introduce this conservative warrior for happiness and opportunity and I wanted to share this with you (and video from the event in days to come), because Dr. Brooks’ ideas embody the philosophy of Palmetto Promise: providing principled, heartfelt solutions to the policy problems South Carolinians face.   Thank you for being partners with us as we “fight for people, not just against things.”

“I’ll never forget the first time I heard Arthur Brooks speak at a national education conference in late 2012.

I was instantly intrigued by his story as a fellow classical musician who also haplessly backed into a career in public policy. (Although I like to say that they let me out of DC for good behavior a few years ago…and Arthur is evidently still doing his time there!)

But more importantly, here was someone who completely defied the conventional wisdom of conservatives as angry old men yelling ‘get off my lawn’…and he wore uber-cool hipster glasses to prove the point.  He reminded us – with cultural relevance, academic insight and engaging humor – of the all-too novel idea that the whole point of our work as conservatives is people.

Listening to him talk, I had an incredible sense of homecoming – finally, here was someone who spoke to my head and my heart!  And I knew right then that we had to get him back to South Carolina to speak someday.  Well, since we’re in Charlotte today, I’ve missed that goal by a few miles, but in the spirit of Carolina neighborliness, we’ll call it close enough for now.

Since then, that initial affinity has only been reinforced as I’ve had the opportunity to become better acquainted with his organization, the American Enterprise Institute, through their State Leadership Network.  Their trusted scholarship on the pressing issue of the day provides an incredible resource for those of us working in small state policy groups.

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You see, while Washington is stuck in a downward spiral of ‘fiscal cliffs’ and crisis, the energy to save America and the opportunity to most effectively care for ‘the least of these’ rests right here in our own backyards…if we’re willing to rise to the challenge of winning the battle of ideas.

But how does this happen in an age of divide and conquer politics and the 24:7 political reality show that gets passed off to us as news?

The first step, as Arthur’s reminds us, is having the courage to show our Conservative Heart.  You see, the ideas in his book sit squarely at the intersection of a life purpose and public policy.

When exhorting us to follow the two great commandments – to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourself – the Apostle John reminds us that ‘Perfect love casts out fear.’

For Dr. Brooks, jettisoning fear has meant intrepidly venturing where conservatives fear to tread across the opinion pages of The NY Times.  Or publically debating the causes and solutions of poverty with none other than the President of the United States.

And perhaps most fearsome of all, calling on understandably frustrated conservatives who see the American Dream slipping away, to search our own hearts to find new ways to speak both truth and love to people trapped in a soul-crushing web of misguided government ‘compassion.’

So Arthur, thanks for what you do to speak in unapologetically moral terms about the challenges we face and our neighbors for whom we fight; to energize and inspire a thoughtful, conservative vision of hope and human flourishing; and for working to unite and inspire in an age of divide and conquer.”

– Ellen Weaver, President of Palmetto Promise

P.S.  And be sure to join us for VisionSC to be an active partner in this mission!