In his most recent column, Jonah Goldberg wrote this intriguing statement:
And that’s what I love about dogs. They just don’t care about such things, and they encourage you not to care either — at least while you’re with them. You can’t say the same thing about children, because they grow up and inherit the society we leave behind. Being a good parent requires caring about politics.
Emphasis added. I understand his argument, but I think that it's overstated. It's the same reasoning as Harry Browne's "burning issue trap": that some pressing threat against the common good requires personal sacrifice.
It's possible for one person to have a meaningful impact on public life, but unlikely, and an individual's resources of time, money, and energy are finite. One must spend them wisely.
I'd like to build a better world for my daughter to live in, but I think that my chances of success are extremely low. I can, however, build a better life for her. That lies within my resources; saving the world does not.
So I could, for example, spend a hundred hours writing letters to Congressmen arguing for Second Amendment rights, or I could spend an hour playing with her. The latter is more likely to benefit her than the former.
This is why, though I am very sympathetic to the Tea Party movement, I have not joined any of their protests or made any monetary donations. Because of the unlikelihood that I will effect any significant change on the nation as a whole, any time, money, and energy that I spend on that movement simply deprives my daughter of that same time, money, and energy.
Now if everyone took this attitude, this country would go to hell in a handbasket very quickly. But I'm not trying to be everyone; I'm trying to be me. I'm not trying to determine how everyone should live; I'm trying to determine how I should live. I'm not trying to make my daughter's future world a better place; I'm trying to make her individual life a better one to live. And I think that therein lies my true parental duty.