It’s basically Jean and Scott Yenor (who wrote a great book on the family and modern political philosophy) vs. Bob Patterson (former editor of the impressive journal THE FAMILY IN AMERICA).
To repeat myself, I’m with Jean that TR’s pro-family orientation was nationalist or statist. It wasn’t based, let’s say, on the principle of SUBSIDIARTY. Or even on the interpretation of the Locke that suggests that government exists for the benefit of the family and to protect property.
Still, I read on FACEBOOK or somewhere this morning that these are the best times ever for the FREE INDIVIDUAL, but bad times for the freedom of GROUPS and ASSOCIATIONS to define their own missions independently of schoolmarmish meddling from the state and other kinds of bureaucratic expertise. It’s a good time for “relational autonomy” and “freedom of [isolated] conscience,” but a bad time for families, churches, and relatively autonomous local communities as places where people should be free to form their naturally relational personal identities. The rights and dignity of single moms and single people generally are better protected than ever [and that is progress], but there are also more single moms than ever, which might not be, on balance, good for the formation of personal identity in most cases.
It’s not that the progressives addressed the individual vs. group issue—to frame things in the simpleminded way used by the evolutionary psychologists—in the right way. But another “social conservative” or family/natalist guy, Allan Carlson, is big on saying that the Democrats were the more pro-family party through the Sixties. They were for the “family wage” (made possible, often, through unionization) and against the individualistic ERA. Things switched up when the spirit of the Sixties flipped the Democrats in the “Do you own thing” direction.
From Carlson’s view, it was the resulting liberation of lots and lots of women to be wage slaves just like men that struck a decisive blow against the big and stable American family. I’m not agreeing with this, necessarily. But it’s something to think about.
We’re still waiting on Joe Carter to facilitate Jean’s blogging. She should be on this channel soon.