Is a country really like a family? Isn't that an idea with a ... checkered history? A family is a relationship between inherently unequal, not-completely-free people--parents and children. A country, at least in one American conception, is the relationship of equal, autonomous people. Using the family as the template for politics stacks the deck against social equality (the value I'd suggest as the liberal touchstone). For one thing, it lends itself all too easily to the condescending liberal notion of compassion, an anti-populist idea if there ever was one. . . . Aren't there values that aren't family values?