In 1980 and again in 1984, Ronald Reagan was elected on a platform that emphasized a host of profamily issues. And as the 1988 presidential election approaches, those same issues remain a focus of public debate.

Republican leaders are urging their party to strengthen its profamily stance, while Democrats, in a shift from past policies, are giving new emphasis to the family as a unit.

A New Democratic Agenda

A report issued last year by the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) Democratic Policy Commission listed “a commitment to stronger families” as a key party concern. The report, which many observers say was designed to form a “new centrist image” for the party, asserted that “Democrats favor profamily policies that will raise family incomes, help keep families together and provide some assistance to parents in their day-to-day lives.” Among other initiatives, the report favored tax reform, flexible hours for employees with children, and welfare reform.

This fall, two new reports advised Democrats about the political benefits of addressing children’s issues. In his study “Kids as Politics,” Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg said, “There is expanded openness to a larger governmental role …, especially in the realm of children.” He listed popular programs, including “pre-school health and education, fighting drugs, helping people go to college and helping young people buy a first home.” A separate study, by poll taker Peter Hart, suggested that Democrats could capture votes by focusing on the worries a majority of Americans say they have about their families’ economic future.

DNC spokeswoman Julie Anbender said Democrats have ...

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