Book Review: It Takes A Family

It Takes A Family: Conservatism And The Common Good, by Rick Santorum

This book was an interesting read in many ways, but it is also an example of the way that politics can often pass a book by, and the attempts to be particularly relevant can go awry. This book is clearly aimed at Hillary Clinton, and in particular it takes her to task for her vision of American society promoted in “It Takes A Village,” where the author repeatedly, even continually, skewers the leftist “village elders” for their hostility to families and to the well-being of families and the sort of society that is produced by strong families that are able to overcome the pull towards collectivism that Clinton endorsed in her books. And while the book’s points are certainly excellent, the author really missed the point to make an attack on Obama, who ended up being the nominee in 2008, as by the time that 2016 came around he did not have the same degree of appeal as a candidate and Clinton was no longer associated as much with her earlier book and its viewpoint, which is a great shame as it might have gotten some use in that campaign as a reminder of her collectivist appeal even if she was no longer the candidate of choice for the socialist left.

This book is about 400 pages long and it is divided into six parts and forty generally short chapters. The first part of the book introduces the author’s thinking about family and it taking a family to raise up good children and set them up for a lifetime of success (I). After that there are a few chapters on social capital and the ties that bind people together, including civic matters as well as matters of religion (II). After that there are some chapters that look at the family and the habits acquired there as being the roots of prosperity, including the dignity and honor of work and the importance of wealth and knowledge (III). After that there is a discussion of moral ecology, including the question of abortion and the role of judges (IV). After that there are a few chapters that deal with the subject of cultural matters such as the importance of engaging in culture and matters of music and sexual politics (V). Finally, the last part of the book discusses matters of educational excellence and the point of raising adults rather than children (VI), after which the book closes with a conclusion, bibliographical note, and index, all of which demonstrate the author to be not only a populist of sorts but a very well-read one as well.

As has been my case with the author’s work in general [1], this book strikes an appealing and populist tone that demonstrates how it is that conservative Republicans have sought to frame their appeal to those who might not seem to be an obvious fit for right-wing politics. The author points out that marriage and a focus on the well-being of the family can be of great benefit to those who struggle as single parents or those whose own family backgrounds may not be very good. It is striking how much this book anticipates the appeal that Trump would have in mobilizing conservative populist voters who might not have felt at home in a Republican party with someone like Romney as a head but who can get behind Trump. And if Santorum has not himself benefited as a political leader from the populism that this book represents, and the down-home family values that the author takes from his own personal experience as a rural Pennsylvanian family man who just happens to have been a senator who was well-traveled and interested in families around the United States, this book does demonstrate the wide appeal of his approach in the hands of others.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s