Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam think big for Republicans, taking as their point of departure the fact that a substantial portion of the party’s constituency is not affluent. It’s a long article, replete with wonky policy ideas, but Michael Barone calls it "brilliant," which is good enough for me and ought to be good enough for you, dear reader. Here’s a sample of their bold thinking on family policy, focusing on the effort to help parents exit and enter the workforce as they raise children:
For instance, the government could offer subsidies to those who provide child care in the home, and pension credits that reflect the economic value of years spent in household labor. Or again, Republicans might consider offering tuition credits for years spent rearing children, which could be exchanged for post-graduate or vocational education. These would be modeled on veterans’ benefits--and that would be entirely appropriate. Both military service and parenthood are crucial to the country’s long-term survival. It’s about time we recognize that fact.
Such a recognition, not incidentally, would be a recipe for continued GOP political dominance. Married couples are already the most reliable Republican voters. Policies making it easier to get married, stay married, and have more children would cement these voters’ loyalties, and they would also draw wavering, culturally-conservative-but-economically-anxious voters into the Republican fold. The party of James Dobson isn’t going to win back wealthy social liberals any time soon. But a pro-family economic agenda might make inroads among, say, upwardly mobile minorities, or working-class whites in increasingly up-for-grabs states like Minnesota and Iowa.