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Douthat on the Family Policy Vacuum

Over at the New York Times Ross Douthat has penned a tongue-in-cheek column about what could be if Donald Trump was a domestic policy wonk. The point he makes about family policy, one he has been making for some time now, is a good one. There is a family policy vacuum at the top end of town. The questions Douthat and others have been asking are not being answered satisfactorily by the current crop of political leaders in the United States, let alone elsewhere.

At the TCI, we have long advocated a large-scale re-think on family policy in general, as it is evident that the typical way in which politicians and policy wonks frame questions about the family is unsatisfactory. Combine these policy-oriented questions, often related to tax and economics, with the bigger social policy questions around abortion, family law, and the dissolution of natural marriage, and it is clear that the West (including my own country, Australia) is not just lacking economic imagination, but has no coherent social vision. These issues have been framed by TCI Editor Steven Wedgeworth, and others, as the ‘Politics of the Family’. And that is, indeed, what all of this is. The family is political.

The question is: how should we capture a social vision for society? Where do we look? In past posts on the TCI you will find pointers to thinkers like Abraham Kuyper and Allan Carlson. However, there is more work to do, and more thinking needed. Douthat’s piece illustrates this, in that he himself has some interesting policy-level suggestions, but he has to put them in the mouth of Trump at a fictional debate. I encourage you to peruse the ‘Natural Family’ archives, and begin exploring how a Christian, even a Reformed one, might start to think through some of these issues of the Politics of the Family.

By Simon Kennedy

Simon is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland. He resides in Geelong, Victoria with his wife and four children.