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Hewitt: Why the Wednesday Night Debate Matters So Much

Pepperdine California Democratic Party

This is a football-mad country … and thank the stars it is.

There are bridges across the partisan divide, and they are often painted in team colors.

The arrival of tailgating and of fall temps will also drop the temps of the campaign rhetoric, which, truth be told, hit boiling far earlier than any campaign I’ve ever reported on or participated in.

That’s good news actually, as too much politics can cause a country to overdose. Better some interval training in August and September followed by the marathon that begins in earnest after the Christmas revels.

Which is why the Wednesday night debate may matter so much. It may well be the last time that many voters genuinely check in for the next three months, the months of collective fun in our country’s annual rhythm.

Wednesday night’s impressions will linger. The candidates need to use their moments on camera to create a story that will endure through the distractions of fall. I am happy to have a seat at the table setting up some of those impressions.

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Medved: The Folly of Staging Unwinnable Fights

The recent controversy surrounding Kim Davis in Kentucky should not be understood as a milestone in the struggle for religious liberty, but it does illustrate a dangerous, destructive tendency among too many conservatives. The problem with her fight was that she had no chance to win: there is no way, legally or politically, to stop Rowan County from issuing licenses for same-sex weddings.

The same mentality surrounded the doomed, foolish government shutdown nearly two years ago: with Obama as president, there was no chance of pressuring him to abandon Obamacare. A third example involves the recent push by some presidential candidates to end the long-established understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment regarding birthright citizenship. To do that, advocates must either amend the Constitution or dismantle the current Supreme Court—both impossible.

If conservatives keep staging unpopular fights they can’t conceivably win, the disillusioned grass roots will lose interest in fighting—and in conservatism.

It’s more important to do right than to feel self-righteous.

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Brooks: The Poor: An Untapped Resource

Believe it or not, most conservatives believe that the government plays an important role in helping the needy. Indeed, they affirm along with Friedrich Hayek and President Ronald Reagan that the social safety net for the truly needy is a great achievement of modern civilization.

So why do conservatives so often complain about the safety net? Because as it is currently administered, it does not better equip citizens to build meaningful, dignified lives of their own making.

The conservative heart provides more help for to the poor than subsistence and dependence. Conservatives define success by how few people need help from government programs, not how many we can enroll for government help.

Conservatives don’t view the poor as a burden on society in need only of charity. Instead, they see the poor as an untapped resource of strength and growth. That’s why conservatives insist on work as a central solution to poverty.

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Religious Faith—and Positive Black Images—Win at the Box Office

The startling success of the new movie “War Room” should send a powerful message to the entertainment industry. This little film about the power of prayer working to save a troubled marriage cost $3.5 million to make and, in its first two weeks, grossed $30 million at the box office.

Yes, there’s a huge audience of people of faith who will support films with positive religious content. That’s an argument I’ve been making for 30 years, particularly with my 1992 book “Hollywood vs. America.”

But there’s something else noteworthy about “War Room” that many observers missed: all of the movie’s most important characters are black, showing successful, upper-middle class, religiously-connected people who contrast radically with the thugs and drugs in standard exploitative fare about African-Americans. Apparently, the black community has responded to these more constructive images with gratitude: about half of the early audience for the film has been African American.

“War Room” gives us a number of reasons to be encouraged.

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Brooks: The Best Way To Fight Poverty

I bet you didn’t know that since 1970, the percentage of people in the world living on a dollar a day or less—a traditional measure of starvation-level poverty—has fallen by 80 percent.

Billions of souls have been able to pull themselves out of poverty thanks to five conservative principles: globalization, free trade, property rights, the rule of law and entrepreneurship.

If conservative ideals have done so much to lift up the poor, you would think the conservative movement would be gaining adherents among the young and old, rich and poor every day.

Unless you have been living in a cave, you know this is not what has happened. Why is this the case?

One answer is simple. The defenders of free enterprise have done a terrible job of telling people how much good the system has done around the world.

We must let Americans know that capitalism is the best way to fight poverty and make the American dream accessible to all.

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Davenport: Is Banning Public Sleeping Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

The Obama administration’s Department of Justice is full of surprises, the latest being their opinion that city ordinances banning public sleeping constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Constitution.   Although this was merely an opinion submitted to the federal court in Idaho about Boise’s ordinance, cities all over America are right to be concerned.

Local regulations about sleeping in public places are among the few tools cities have in managing the huge problem of the homeless taking over public parks and sidewalks at night.  While there is legal precedent that you should not punish someone for their status (addiction, for example), here it is conduct the ordinances deal with.

Yes, we need more shelters and additional tools to deal with homelessness.  But we don’t need Washington lawyers trying to engage in social engineering by issuing edicts.  As Chief Justice Roberts said in his dissenting opinion in the gay marriage case, “Federal courts (and we could add lawyers) are blunt instruments when it comes to creating rights.”

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Brooks: A Common Misconception

There is a common misconception in America today that conservatives are materialistic. The truth is they aren’t, and this confusion is a central political irony of our time.

Progressives truly want to help the poor but have tried to solve poverty primarily with government money, relegating talk of culture to the past and focusing more on income inequality.

On the other hand, though conservatives often wrap our arguments in lackluster materialistic language about tax rates and GDP growth, our philosophy takes a uniquely holistic view of human dignity and earned success.

We extol free enterprise, self-reliance, and ethical living—the foundations of a good life, no matter how much money someone makes.

And what about the role of government in helping the needy? Contrary to what we often hear, the vast majority of conservatives agree that the social safety net for truly needy people is a great achievement of modern civilization.

Long term, only a return to fiscal conservatism can guarantee the solvency of any sort of safety net.

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