To reflect some more on the Oren Cass / Scott Winship debate…One way of reading Cass’s book is: my analysis of the data show that Americans without any college education have been socioeconomically declining declining for decades. This is a really big problem we should all care about. Here are some solutions to this problem.
I believe Winship, even though he disagrees with the premise, sees the book in this light. I think Cass himself views the book this way, which is why he has devoted so much effort to defending the idea that the working class is in decline.
While academics should continue trying to resolve this dispute, for me Cass’s main contribution is his vision for how conservatives can approach politics and policy. Cass’s focus on the centrality of work and creating an inclusive economy is a blueprint more conservatives should follow. That’s the big takeaway whether or not the working class is really stagnating.
Seen in this light, Winship’s fixation on a narrow technical point seems misplaced. I think Cass’s vision is largely correct. I suspect Winship agrees, but I’m not honestly sure since he barely addressed it.
And if Winship disagrees, I’d gently challenge him to offer something else. As reformocons, what should our narrative be?