Politics & Law

The third pillar of a decent society is a just system of politics and law. Such a government does not bind all persons, families, institutions of civil society, and actors in the marketplace to itself as subservient features of an all-pervading authority. Instead, it honors and protects the inherent equal dignity of all persons, safeguards the family as the primary school of virtue, and seeks justice through the rule of law.

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Such a substantial proportion of this book is devoted to textualism, originalism, and traditionalism that it is hard to escape the sense that Sunstein protests too much by repeatedly claiming that his moral-philosophizing “reflective equilibrium” is “the only game in town.” And in truth, he leaves his own preferred approach woefully underdeveloped.
In his new book, William Inboden clearly regards Reagan as indispensable to something coming close to a miraculous chain of events surrounding the peaceful end of the Cold War. He rejects the popular notions of Reagan as clueless, all form and no substance, gullible, or hopelessly and sentimentally patriotic. This is a sympathetic biography, but one that is copiously researched and laden with fresh and insightful nuances that treat Reagan as a complex figure, a man with limitations, paradoxes, and weaknesses.
Mark David Hall’s Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land represents a landmark contribution to the debate over the impact of Christian faith on American law and culture. It is high time for Christians to reframe this debate, asking not “How much do we have to apologize for?” but “How much can we take credit for?”
A growing number of doctors, patients, and whistleblowers are beginning to question the medical establishment’s recommendations for children with gender dysphoria.
For the foreseeable future, there will be no institutional barrier to demagoguery, viciousness, or incompetence to be found within the nominating processes. The only barrier will be the voters themselves.
The militant Russian religious conservatism of the twenty-first century, paradoxically, mirrors the Soviet anti-religious socialism of the twentieth century. Their common feature is a shameless instrumentalization of religion, with the consent of the latter.
The United States must apologize for treating blacks with contempt and compensate with reparations those American blacks who lived through racial segregation. But reparations for all black Americans will not erase the wealth gap between blacks and whites, nor improve the significant educational achievement gap rampant throughout the black communities in this country.
Slavery, Jim Crow, and distributive discrimination assaulted natural rights and the dignity of persons made in the image of God on which these rights are based. They leave behind wounds, the most central of which is the standing victory of injustice, the moral fact of injustice itself that persists in time unless it is repudiated. While constitutional amendments, legislation, and policies have countered and delegitimated these injustices, the lack of a formal apology and reparations has left them still standing.
Trump—and more broadly, the style of politics he represents—did not rise to power on the shoulders of the religious right, but rather the post-religious right. Indeed, his presidency was made possible by the very process of secularization that the religious right has long sought to combat.
303 Creative prevents a First Amendment violation where it would be most keenly felt—the government commanding an individual to use her creative talent to create and promote a message antithetical to her conscience or beliefs. The relative rarity of prior cases involving attempts to compel creative commercial speech may have reflected a tacit consensus that this was a First Amendment redline, not lightly to be crossed.
Conservatives are defenders of traditional communities, not atomized individuals fending for themselves. We do not oppose the growth of the federal government merely because it is dangerous to individual liberty, but because the bureaucratization of American society violates our conception of the human good.
A timely book on the thought of Harry Jaffa and Walter Berns reminds us that patriotism needs to be about ideas and principles, but it cannot only be about ideas and principles. To win—and deserve to win—elections, conservatism must also inspire love of country and serve the immediate interests of the ordinary man.
In her 2022 book The Ideology of Democratism, Emily Finley contends that democracy, or democratism, has become “perhaps the dominant political belief system in modern Western society.” In other words, democracy has become more than a regime type; it has become a secular religion, complete with its own dogmas, practices, clerics, and eschatology.
Museums assume, both for the country and the individual, a special trust of preservation and civic encouragement. That encouragement need not involve glossing over the failings of our past. We distort our history both when we whitewash it and when we overemphasize our shortcomings.
Juneteenth, coming as it does just weeks before July Fourth, provides a perfect opportunity for us—both individually and collectively—to engage in a season of contemplating and celebrating the complexities and nuances, highs and lows, of this American experiment that has at its core the achievement of freedom.
The principal irony of Juneteenth is that slavery was still a legal institution in the United States on June 19, 1865—if not in Texas because of the Emancipation Proclamation, then certainly in Kentucky and Delaware, where slavery would not be blotted out until the ratification of the thirteenth amendment. This would not, however, be the only irony in the history of American emancipation, and certainly not the last.
The Soviet regime is formally gone, but the legacy of its formidable security apparatus lives on. There was never a “decommunization” process in the wake of the USSR’s collapse. The vast majority of those who had participated in its structures and atrocities escaped punishment, and many of them created political careers in the post-communist era. People like Vladimir Putin were deeply marked by their socialization within that apparatus.
In The Classical and Christian Origins of American Politics, Kody Cooper and Justin Dyer successfully refute the still (somehow) influential interpretation of the American Founding as a secular-not-Christian project. However, they do so without successfully establishing their preferred alternative, the Christian-not-secular interpretation. There is a vast middle between these two extremes whose existence slips through the authors’ fingers again and again like a well-greased elephant.
What would happen if we dropped that charged word “liberalism” from the conversation and got down to specifics? I suspect much of Patrick Deneen’s postliberal magic would disappear.
The things we’re willing to die for are tied to what we hold as sacred. In fact, the willingness to die for something also consecrates it as sacred. We need to entertain the possibility that love for our country might lead us to sacrifice greatly, even radically, in order to preserve the best that remains in it.
In Sacred Foundations, Anna Grzmała-Busse argues that the secular nation-state derives much of its structure from the Catholic papacy when it was at its peak in the Middle Ages.
In The Myth of Left and Right, Hyrum and Verlan Lewis certainly succeed in proving to the reader that the pieces within each ideological bundle have shifted over time and do not inevitably go together, but they go well beyond that in concluding that each coalition’s bundle is fundamentally random. Though labels and coalitions may be quite movable, at any given time (including now) ideological identifications can tell us something intelligible about our politics.
“Wokeism” is akin to an attempt to extend the professor’s authority over students to the rest of society. But this strategy will only have limited success: students are ready to listen and be convinced by their professors, but most of society doesn’t regard itself as pupils to the woke Left. True revolutionaries do not need to borrow authority from institutions, because they have the power to take what they want from their unconsenting enemy. The woke Left, whether we want to admit it or not, and whether it is itself conscious of it or not, has no such power.
Religiosity will rear its head in one way or another. If you are religious, you’ve wagered your life on particular and exclusive claims about who God is, what kind of world we’re in, and the kind of creatures we are. These stakes are impossibly high, and sensible political communities will vigilantly safeguard the sacred from the encroachment of politics.

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