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Introducing America After Dobbs:
A Public Discourse Resource
America’s Commercial Republic, and Its Detractors: An Interview with Samuel GreggKey Founders believed that America’s future was to be a polity in which free and dynamic commerce would play a powerful role in defining society, as opposed to, say, the priorities of aristocratic or feudal societies. The “republic” side of this political economy equation is that this commercial society would operate within the context of institutions and sets of virtues that draw upon classical, religious, and moderate Enlightenment sources.
Practicing Pro-Life Medicine: A Conversation with Dr. John Bruchalski and Leah SargeantIt’s very rewarding to practice excellent women’s health that is collaborative, integrated, holistic, and listens to their bodies. Children are not STDs. Fertility is something to be collaborated with rather than suppressed.
Gay Marriage, Civil Rights, and Christian Virtue: An Interview with David French“What I see in modern America is something maybe a little bit different than what other folks see. I think the nation vis-à-vis its laws is far more just than it has been at virtually any point in its previous history. Racial discrimination is outlawed de jure. You have an extension of the First Amendment to all American communities. You have greater religious freedoms in a concrete way than we’ve ever enjoyed in the history of the United States. We have a lot of problems, but we’re better than we’ve been.”
James Bradley Thayer, Legal Realist?James Bradley Thayer sternly taught an iron discipline in constitutional judging of holding one’s own views—even one’s conviction that one understood the Constitution better than the legislature did—firmly in check. And he taught this because he believed it was the only approach consistent with the Constitution’s text, purposes, structure, and traditional interpretation.
How the Government Is Buying Our SubmissionOur Constitution’s carefully designed processes for democratic self-governance, and the means and mechanisms for ensuring accountability, are evaded and eroded. In his 2021 book Purchasing Submission, Philip Hamburger reveals the many hidden ways this evasion occurs—through spending conditions and contractual terms, yes; but also through “dangerously benevolent” nudges, incentives, intermediaries, accreditation, licensing, permits, and permissions.
Augustine Isn’t the Political Pessimist You Think He IsMichael Lamb’s A Commonwealth of Hope: Augustine’s Political Thought is an important intervention not only in Augustine studies, but also in our politics of stagnation and hopelessness. Lamb shows that if we hope rightly, we can work in and for the pilgrim city and for earthly cities. Augustine’s descriptions of life’s evils and turmoils should awaken us to life’s uncertainties, our lack of self-sufficiency, and our need for mercy.
Contempt, Inquiry, and Rational Disagreement: Learning from Aquinas in the Internet AgePresent-day Americans are a people consumed by anger—an anger that rests on deep pools of sadness, isolation, loss, and fear. In spite of his reputation for dry, unemotional logic, Thomas Aquinas has a great deal to say about the way in which disordered passions can undermine our capacity for getting at the truth. His work can teach us how to resist the vices encouraged by social media, pursue truth in concert with others, and achieve rational disagreement.
National Conservatives for the Status Quo?By deviating from the American political tradition, national conservatives double down on rather than challenge many of our political ills.
Apocalyptic Politics: Christianity and the New World OrderAs our dependence on technology reshapes the moral imagination of our culture to see human beings as psychological wills that need not respect material limitations, so the old order that was built upon the vision of human beings as both body and soul will become increasingly implausible. The things that make Christianity stand out from the wider culture—belief in the incarnation, the resurrection, and embodied human nature as a real, universal thing with moral consequences—are antithetical to the terms of membership in the emerging world order.
Collections from the Archives
From the Editor’s Desk: Public Discourse’s Monthly Roundup, March 2023At Public Discourse, we intend to play the role of moderation and calm. We know our society is in the middle of a Revolution—and not a good one—and we know conservatives are experimenting and fracturing in their responses. We try to read and understand all the trends, all the possibilities, and stay calm and reasonable as we host debate and conversation about the best way forward.
From the Editor’s Desk: Public Discourse’s Monthly RoundupA lot of readers might wonder: what makes Public Discourse different from other journals? In recent years, a lot of publications have become foot soldiers in the culture wars. Their content is more about political messaging rather than serious thinking. We at Public Discourse aim to be a voice of integrity that readers trust most: we readily acknowledge when interlocutors are right, and we strive to give debate its due. We also think tone and conduct matter, which is why you don’t see our team engaging in Twitter crusades.
Is “Self-Improvement” a Real Thing?As we decide what habits to adopt or discard in 2023, it’s important to carefully sort through the advice on offer to see if it’s based on a sound vision of human nature and of what constitutes a good life. Thankfully, the Public Discourse archives can offer guidance here, as on so many other topics.