Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Whither the Pubbies re: Families?

Reports are telling us that childbearing is no longer fashionable in the US. That's not exactly news to any parents who have more than 3 little darlings.

Fr. Richard Neuhaus comments on an editorial by Allan Carlson (at one time, the major domo of the Rockford Institute.)

Allan Carlson has for years been leading the cause for the “family wage.” It is a cause that has deep roots in Catholic social doctrine and also in an older “progressive” tradition in American politics. Teddy Roosevelt is, in this connection, one of Carlson’s heroes. In this reflection in National Review Online, Carlson examines the ways in which corporate America conspires (for lack of a better term) to force women into the labor force, with the predictable consequence of sharply reducing the number of children married couples have.

Up until quite recently, Carlson notes, the Democrats were much more family-friendly than the Republicans. Then Reagan embraced the “family issues,” which contributed powerfully to producing “Reagan Democrats,” but neither he nor other Republican leaders have been prepared to follow through on the policy implications of that embrace. Carlson writes:

Moreover, when push comes to shove, social conservatives remain second
class citizens under the Republican tent. During the 2004 Republican convention,
they were virtually confined to the party’s attic, kept off the main stage,
treated like slightly lunatic children. Republican lobbyist Michael Scanlon’s
infamous candid comment–”The wackos get their information [from] the Christian
right [and] Christian radio”–suggests a common opinion among the dominant “K
Street” Republicans toward their coalition allies.

Contemporary Republican leaders need to do better–much
better–toward social conservatives. They must creatively address pressing new
family issues centered on debt burden. And they must learn to say “no” sometimes
to Wall Street, lest they squander the revolutionary political legacy of Ronald

I’m not persuaded that Carlson has the whole story. But he raises important questions about the politics and policies of those who purport to be “family friendly.”

It may or may not be the case that "corporate America" has persuaded the Pubbies to do their bidding on family issues--personally, I'm persuaded by the argument that "consumerism" is more to blame--but Carlson's nobody's fool. His grounding on the topic of families is deep and broad. And as to Pubbie twits and their relationship with social conservatives: a couple of elections with the social c's sitting on their hands may be very salutary.

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