David beat Goliath because God gave him grace and ingenuity, including the willingness to fight a battle differently than standard doctrine decreed. Military historian Victor David Hanson, in Why the West Has Won, explains that generals and privates nourished by experimentation and flexibility within Western culture respond more cleverly to unexpected threats than those trained in Eastern emphases on conformity.
Congress is now debating the future of No Child Left Behind, which President George W. Bush signed into law in 2002, the same year Why the West Has Won hit bookstores. Too bad he and others in the White House didn’t read Hanson first, because the book may have helped them perceive the fatal flaw in their approaches to both education and poverty-fighting: They missed opportunities to decentralize, and instead embraced uniformity and centralized control.
In education, the Bush administration sadly went for government-imposed testing rather than parent-supporting school choice, and thus opened the way for the Obama administration’s drive toward a cookie-cutter curriculum. In poverty fighting, Team Bush maintained a grants approach whereby government decides who gets the money, instead of supporting tax credits that would have put the choice of what to support in the hands of individual taxpayers.
The secular conservative politician isn’t all that different from the liberal one: Both typically want big, comprehensive solutions. Christianity, though, embraces diversity, starting with the Trinity and continuing through the enormous variety of church worship styles throughout the world. (Islam, by contrast, emphasizes unicity both in worship and in government.) Standardized school and welfare programs have some advantages, but we’re better off with a salad.