It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good

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Overview

Among politicians of national stature today, there is perhaps none more respected as a principled conservative than Rick Santorum. In It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, Santorum articulates the humane vision that he believes must inform public policy if it is to be effective and just. An appreciation for the civic bonds that unite a community lies at the heart of genuine conservatism. Moreover, Santorum demonstrates how such an approach to political, social, and economic problems offers the most...

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It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good

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Overview

Among politicians of national stature today, there is perhaps none more respected as a principled conservative than Rick Santorum. In It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, Santorum articulates the humane vision that he believes must inform public policy if it is to be effective and just. An appreciation for the civic bonds that unite a community lies at the heart of genuine conservatism. Moreover, Santorum demonstrates how such an approach to political, social, and economic problems offers the most promise for those on the margin of life: the poor, the vulnerable, and minorities who have often been excluded from opportunity in America.

Santorum argues that conservative statesmanship is animated by a sense of stewardship for an inheritance. But what do we inherit as Americans? And how can we be good stewards of that inheritance? Building on Robert Putnam’s discussion of “social capital,” the habits of association and trust that are the preconditions of any decent society, Santorum assesses how well, in the past generation, Americans have cared for the “fabric” of society. He explores in detail various dimensions of social and cultural connection that are the foundation of the common good. And he presents innovative policy proposals for the renewal of American society at all levels.

Throughout his book, Santorum emphasizes the central role of the family—in contradistinction to the metaphorical “village” of the federal government, as promoted by Hillary Clinton—in achieving the common good. With a sustained argument touching on first principles throughout, this ambitious and original book is a major contribution to contemporary political debate. It Takes a Family further establishes Santorum as the leader of reform-minded civic conservatives in America.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
U.S. Senator Rick Santorum believes in family: On his right wrist, he proudly wears a cloth with the word "family" stitched on it. In his first book, the Pennsylvania legislator offers a sustained brief for this foundational social unit. In clear contradistinction to Senator Hillary Clinton's It Takes a Village, he emphasizes the central role of family in achieving the common good.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932236293
  • Publisher: ISI Books
  • Publication date: 7/4/2005
  • Pages: 467
  • Sales rank: 976,529
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum has served in the United States Senate since January 1995, where he has been elected to a second term as Republican Conference Chairman, the party's third ranking leadership position in the Senate. As Conference Chairman, Senator Santorum directs the communications operations of Senate Republicans and is a frequent party spokesman. He is the youngest member of the leadership and the first Pennsylvanian to hold such a prominent position since the 1970s.

While Senator Santorum is proud of his accomplishments as a lawmaker and public servant, he is most proud of his role as a husband and father. Senator Santorum and his wife, Karen Garver Santorum, are the parents of six wonderful children: Elizabeth, John, Daniel, Sarah Maria, Peter, and Patrick.

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Read an Excerpt

It Takes a Family

Conservatism and the Common Good
By Rick Santorum

ISI Books

Copyright © 2007 Rick Santorum
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-932236-29-3


Chapter One

A large part of the district I represented as a freshman congressman in 1993-1994 was the old steel valley southeast of Pittsburgh. Unlike, say, Silicon Valley, this was not an area bursting with new jobs and economic opportunity. The little mill towns along the Monongahela River looked more like ghost towns. Unlike most congressional Republicans, I represented a lot of people who were poor, but with rich traditions; bitter, but still proud. They also, increasingly, didn't have much hope. My main district office was in the heart of one of those mill towns, McKeesport. Almost every day my staff and I dealt with chronic problems of poverty and despair that were the result of economic dislocation that was only made worse by a liberal vision of how to return these areas to their former glory. The liberal vision wasn't working. So what was the conservative vision? What was my vision?

I came to the uncomfortable realization that conservatives were not only reluctant to spend government dollars on the poor: they hadn't even thought much about what might work better. I often described my conservative colleagues during that time as simply "cheap liberals." My own economically modest personal background and my faith had taught me to care for those less fortunate, but I too had not yet given much thought to the proper role of government in this mission.

It happened that at the very same time I was trying to help the people of the Mon Valley, I was assigned the task of responding to President Clinton's call to "end welfare as we know it." I led a team in drafting a welfare reform bill for the Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee. My district and that bill started me down the road to building up a conservative philosophy within which we could use government policies and dollars as a catalyst to renew and re-form the poor families and communities in our country. After I was elected to the Senate in 1994, I met up with someone who was already well down that road of reform, Senator Dan Coats of Indiana. We became the heart of a conservative group who shared a concern for the poor and who wanted to reverse the ill effects that decades of liberal policies had inflicted on the least well off.

While we had some successes in adding many of our ideas to the 1996 Welfare Reform Act and the American Community Renewal Act, our ideas were nonetheless vilified by the liberal architects of the existing system and largely ignored by the vast majority of traditional conservatives. Our fortunes changed with the election of George W. Bush and his "Compassionate Conservative" agenda. His faith-based program, reflecting his sincere belief that faith-based and community organizations can change people's lives, brought our efforts into the mainstream of political debate.

In spite of the president's good work in this area, I have long believed that no one has yet laid out a coherent and comprehensive theoretical argument for this apparently new type of conservatism. This book is not a public policy agenda-although there are plenty of new initiatives proposed. Nor is it the book that I originally conceived, which would have focused exclusively on the poor in America-although the poor are at the heart of my arguments. No, this book has turned into something more ambitious. It is an attempt to sketch the past forty years of American history in light of our founders' vision for the pursuit of the common good in a civil society. Just what was our founders' vision? Are we still the country we were born to be? How did we arrive at this state? Where is our destination, if we do not change? And how can we reclaim our rich inheritance from generations past and with it build up a society our founders would revere?

Before I thank all who assisted me in the writing of this book, I want to thank those who brought me to the dance-people without whom I would have had very little to say. First among these are my wife Karen and our six children, the family for whom I live.

Karen is so much of who I am and what I do that it is hard to give her enough credit in a book, much less a few lines. She is truly my soul mate. There could be no more loving, faithful, honest, and supportive spouse to have accompanied me through the last fifteen years of campaigns, legislative and home-state crises, and most importantly, parenthood. Our hours are long, the pace intense, and the stress high, but she not only helps hold me together, she is often single-handedly the steady guiding light for our six children, ages 3 to 14, too. Karen's wisdom and her actions in our own family permeate my discussion of family in this book. She is my refuge, my strength, and my inspiration. And aside from all that, she is a twice-published author, having written and edited Letters to Gabriel and Everyday Graces: A Child's Book of Good Manners, respectively. (I realize that I married up!)

I want to thank my terrific children for having patience with me. Putting up with the schedule of a father who is a U.S. senator is tough enough, but for the last few months they have been doubly understanding as I spent hours squirreled away writing. Karen and I have been abundantly blessed with the privilege of raising six magnificent souls. In fact, our lives were incomplete until we had each and every one of our children. My prayer is that the time I poured into this book will result in a somewhat better America in which they may grow and serve their fellow citizens.

When I was growing up, my whole life seemed to be spent around family. There was the occasional lecture about its importance, but I learned about the centrality of family mostly because family was simply what we did. I was blessed with a terrific father and mother who planted seeds that eventually took root. They, like Karen's parents, were very much of the "old school." While I didn't appreciate it at the time, I certainly do now, as Karen and I try to raise our children with those same traditional values.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to my father- and mother-in-law, Ken and Betty Lee Garver, for all of their encouragement and support through the years; but most of all, for giving me Karen.

I also want to thank the people I grew up with in the small, blue-collar town of Butler, Pennsylvania. It was a place where family togetherness, being a good neighbor, and civic participation were on display every day, without complaint or apology. I had so many good role models as a kid: I could not have been more blessed.

This book has truly been a collaborative effort. I want to thank Jeff Nelson, the publisher of ISI Books, for pitching to me the idea of tackling so large a subject. I never thought I would have the time to take on such a project, and I wouldn't have without the help of Jeff Rosenberg and the "Marks Brothers"-Mark Henrie, Mark Rodgers, and Mark Ryland. Jeff Rosenberg helped immensely by working with me to interview many of the people you will meet in this book and by writing many of the chapter first drafts. Mark Henrie was an outstanding editor and counselor who drew out of me in countless conversations the philosophical basis for my actions in Washington and made sure this was woven throughout the book. I thank him for all of his excellent advice and contributions. He also had his work cut out for him in keeping me from running down numerous rabbit trails.

Mark Rodgers is the chief of staff for the Senate Republican Conference, which I chair. We have been a team since he appeared in September 1990 to help engineer my somewhat miraculous first congressional race. Mark is a great blessing to me. Without a doubt, much of my political and public policy success is attributable to his superb planning, management, and creative skills. One of Mark's interests is in shaping the popular culture to be a more positive influence in our society, and in this regard he has led many efforts on and off the Hill that are having a positive impact. I want to thank him especially for everything he put into the cultural capital section of the book.

Thanks, too, to Mark Ryland, who has been a teacher, lawyer, and Microsoft executive, and who now works at a think tank in Washington. He is also a homeschooling father of nine. He helped tremendously in laying out the framework of this volume and added greatly to the discussion on intellectual capital and our public education system. I am extraordinarily grateful for his valuable contributions.

I could not finish without also thanking the good people of Pennsylvania, for two reasons. First, as you will soon read, many civic leaders in our state contributed to this book by standing out as examples of what we all should strive to be. Through their self-sacrifice and care for others, they give hope to the people they serve and inspiration to us all.

Second, and finally, I would not have had the opportunity to share in this book my vision for America were it not for the honor the people of Pennsylvania have given me to represent them in the United States Senate. It has been a great privilege. Thank you.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from It Takes a Family by Rick Santorum Copyright © 2007 by Rick Santorum. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 It takes a family
I The task of stewardship 3
II The liberal vision : no-fault freedom 13
III Families and the common good 21
IV The meaning of family 28
Pt. 2 Social capital and the ties that bind
V What kind of freedom? 43
VI Habits of association 50
VII Trust and civic connection 58
VIII Subsidiarity vs. central control 65
IX Changing lives, building families 73
X Parents and children 93
XI Religion and social capital 101
XII Where social capital is weakest 109
Pt. 3 The roots of prosperity
XIII Abundant families in the land of plenty 119
XIV Economic responsibility 127
XV Work and human dignity 135
XVI Wealth and ownership 143
XVII The power of knowledge 163
XVIII Faith-based transformations 168
XIX Smart reinvesting 176
XX Wealth and race 189
Pt. 4 Moral ecology
XXI Liberty and virtue 197
XXII Moral capital and the moral environment 210
XXIII The rule of judges 220
XXIV Abortion : a personal aside 239
XXV The impact of partial birth abortion 248
XXVI How abortion affects our moral ecology 258
Pt. 5 Culture matters
XXVII The good, the true, and the beautiful 271
XXVIII The good, the bad, and the ugly 278
XXIX Culture : ally or adversary? 288
XXX Violence and a coarsened society 304
XXXI Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll : mostly sex 313
XXXII Not withdraw, but engage 320
XXXIII Culture-makers, culture-mongers, culture-consumers 326
XXXIV Culture and public policy 340
Pt. 6 Educational excellence
XXXV Knowledge, truth, and education 351
XXXVI Who rules the schools? 360
XXXVII Not raising children, but raising adults 371
XXXVIII Bringing the lessons home 383
XXXIX Moral truth and the end of man 388
XL Higher education and liberal education 403
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2005

    Finally!!

    Finally, someone is getting the message the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been saying for decades!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2005

    Common Sense 101

    The Senator clearly shows a good understanding and comprehension of common sense, and how society can benefit from it. He explains the importence of man-woman marriage, and the family as the central unit of learning for a child. Overall, a great book!!! (I also look forward to reading Sen. Clinton's book, It takes a village, so that I can compare the two on a closer level.)

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2005

    think of the children....

    ... while you are focusing on your career and daycare is 'raising' your children for you, I guess you never really stop to think about the effect of two working parents has on their children. The moral fabric of America has deteriorated because there is no longer one full time at-home parent to RAISE children instead of sticking them in daycare. Couples are just greedy about their new cars and other toys to show off or simply needing two jobs because they lack budgeting skills. Instead of budgeting their lives to live off one income, now both parents (if they are still even together) are out working and remove themselves from raising their children. If you want to be Ms. Corporate Woman, then I advise if you ever have children, you are married to Mr. Stay-at-Home Dad. At 34, I still don't think I'll ever meet the person I can stay with for 20+ years to properly raise a child, so childless I shall remain. In the age of 'my baby's daddy' instead of someone being able to say 'my husband' ... I find a book about morals to be refreshing. ~kev

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2005

    Great Book

    I think this is a truly great book that tackles many of problems with our society that I have felt but not been able to describe. But beyond outlining the problems Senator Santorum provides a clear cut picture of hope for the future and lays out the challenges and responsibilities that our families must take to keep our nation strong for our children and grand-children.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2005

    Best Book I have Ever Read on What is wrong with Family's in America

    This Book is written with more facts than fiction on what is wrong with the Children of today. The Liberals think anything is OK as long as it does not hurt anyone else. This way of thinking is ruining our great kids.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2005

    Absolutley perfect

    Thank you for being a man in todays society and caring for our children especially those who are under privlaged. I am a mother of three and wife to a truly wonderful husband.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2005

    Working women/ Stay at home moms Applaud Rick Santorum

    I would like to Thank Senator Rick Santorum for standing up in what he believes in and representing the state of Pennsylvania. He proudly states that ALL women, NOT JUST THOSE WHO WORK OUTSIDE THE HOME, should be treated fairly. His strong beliefs that the family is the cornerstone of a working society are exactly what this country needs in these harsh times. God Bless him.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2005

    It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good

    I REALLY LOVE THIS BOOK. SEN RICK SENTORUM HAS TRULY WRITTION A MASTER PIECE AND IN MY OPINION SHOULD BE NOMINATED FOR A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE FOR COMING UP WITH A BOOK OF HOPE. SO MANY NEGATIVE GROUPS AND CONCERNS ARE OUT THERE THAT ARE DOING THERE BEST TO TRY TO TEAR THE FAMILY APART AND I WAS JUST SO THRILLED TO READ SEN SANTORUMS BOOK 'IT TAKES A FAMILY' CAUSE HE SHOWS IN THIS GREAT BOOK OF HOPE THAT THE FAMILY IS MENT TO BE SOMETHING SPECIAL AND ITS MENT TO BE KEPT TOGETHER AND ITS MY HOPE AND PRAYER THAT MORE PEOPLE WILL READ THIS BOOK CAUSE NOT ONLY IS IT A BOOK OF HOPE BUT ITS A WAKE UP CALL.THIS BOOK WOULD MAKE A WONDERFUL GIFT FOR THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE IN YOUR LIFE:PERHAPS A FAMILY MEMBER A FRIEND,OR CHURCH MEMBER OR CO WORKER OR A NICE NEIBOR. AND YOU CAN BUY IT ON BN.COM AND YOU DONT HAVE TO WAIT INLINE OR FULL WITH LONG LINES.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2005

    It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good

    THIS IS A TRULY REMARKABLE BOOK AND THE WRITER OF THIS BOOK RICK SANTORUM DESERVES A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE FOR WRITING SUCH A WONDERFUL PUBLICATION THAT WILL OFFER HOPE TO MANY. I REALLY ENJOYED READING SEN. SANTORUMS BOOK BECAUSE HE SHOWS YOU THROUGH SOME FASINATING RESEARCH AND DOCUMENTATION THAT FAMILYS ARE THE TRUE STRENTH OF AMERICA. IAM GOING TO BUY A COPY OF THIS BOOK TO A MINISTER FRIEND OF MINE.PLEASE BUY THIS BOOK TO A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER FOR A GIFT. AT WWW.BN.COM

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2005

    Right On Rick!

    Thank God we still have a few brave politicians left in the U.S. who are not afraid to say what needs to be said. Keep fighting the good fight Senator Santorum!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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