A New Atlantic Right?

My column this week is a pretty positive one about some of the ideas in Ross' and Reihan's new book. I'll have some tarter observations, fitting the more cut-and-thrust context of the blog, this week. Not that I'm totally uncritical in the column:

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this. It smacks a little too much of social engineering and the forces it is supposed to counter – the past few decades’ cultural shifts regarding sexuality, marriage and family and the economic pressures of an increasingly globalised world – are almost certainly too powerful to be held back.

On the other hand, if the policy is designed merely to mitigate some of the ways in which socially crucial behaviour – such as good child-rearing – are discouraged, it may be worth trying...

If a tax credit can help one parent devote more time to children, the long-term ripple effects on the next generation could be profound. It’s a tricky balance – between clumsy government intervention and a helpful government nudge– but one perhaps worth putting on the table.  

Conservatism, after all, has always been a strange mixture of dismay at social loss and pragmatism in helping to ameliorate it. It is not an ideology; it’s a flexible, pragmatic, modest approach to the necessary evil of government. In one era, big tax cuts, deregulation and a much smaller state may be appropriate. In another time, a different emphasis may be more fitting. This is the Tory genius – and it’s encouraging to see conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic grope gradually towards reinvention.