This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger
I'm trying to think of a conservative vision for social justice and it's hard. Because it almost sounds like creating an Oxymoron. And what I mean by that is that social justice or economic justice tend to be socialist terms. It's Social Democrats running for office in this country and in other countries who say "I'm fighting for social justice"! Which is something that frankly makes Conservatives or people who are supposed to pass as today's Conservatives (which is different) want to puke. Because when they hear social justice people in the Tea Party and Libertarians talk about social justice they automatically think that is wealth redistribution.
But just to take the conservative vision of social justice seriously for a minute for the purpose of this blog (if nothing else) I guess Newt Gingrich would be the best spokesperson for it because it was something that he was truly interested in at least when he was Speaker of the House and throughout his congressional career. And something he talked a lot about post-Congress and when he ran for President in 20011-12. The 1996 Welfare to Work Act was an example of that where they took the best of liberal and conservative ideas to empower people on Welfare to get off of Welfare into the workforce.
Speaker Gingrich when he ran for President was constantly talking about what government of all things could do to empower people on Welfare and Unemployment Insurance to get themselves the skills so they can get themselves a good job. He was constantly talking about the amount of time that someone on Unemployment Insurance spends that they could use that time to get degree at a community college or a bachelors degree. Instead of trying to look for a job with the current skills that they have.
I mean if you are truly Conservative who believes in social justice that is empowering people at the bottom so they are no longer on the bottom and trapped in poverty, (and I'm trying to say this without laughing at least based on the Tea Party and libertarian-right) then you believe government has some role here unless you are simply only interested in wrecking the safety net in America. And that role from a conservative perspective is about using market values in government to empower people to be able to make it on their own. Getting good skills to pay the bills to use a pop culture analogy.
That instead of saying that "the problem is the rich are too rich, or just rich period and what government should do is take most of their money to take care of everyone else". Which is basically the socialist, or social democratic vision of social justice that "we as Conservatives should instead say wealth and work is a good thing in America and good thing about our system. And that these things should be encouraged not discouraged and that the problem is not that we have rich people or too many. But not enough and what we need to do as a country with government playing a role, but not the only role is to empower people at the bottom and near-bottom to become successful and even rich on their own."