Once we recognize the insufficiency of liberal political theory, we should turn back to classical political philosophy, which offers us a deeper understanding of the American tradition and invaluable guidance in reforming our contemporary politics.
Pillar: 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.
Conservative critics of “liberalism” are right to identify major flaws in liberal theory. But a deeper appreciation of those flaws should prevent us from blaming the American political tradition for them. Liberal theory is so erroneous that neither the Founders nor any other Americans could ever really put it into practice.
The first recommendation of the U.S. Commission on Unalienable Rights should be directed to the same State Department that houses it: Stop using the UN to advance sexual ideologies that have no basis in international human rights law.
Pope Francis’s theology of the people gives us a new ecclesial lens and paradigm through which to understand earthly politics. And the clerical abuse scandal, like the Church’s loss of temporal power, may well do Catholics a service in the long run, freeing us up to a better, more “ground-up” conception of how societies and their economies work.
Without a proper understanding of human beings that is grounded in natural law, human rights will always fall short of the lofty goals set by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If the U.S. Commission on Unalienable Rights is to help the U.S. protect human rights, it needs first to try to understand their nature.
Were the criminal sentencing reforms that began in the 1970s too harsh? Rachel Barkow’s new book says they were. But most Americans would likely call these changes progress: our worst offenders now get something closer to what they should get than in the days when the experts were more in charge of punishment. Perhaps the real question is whether we should ground our criminal law more on justice as retribution.
The Church must exercise its authority over temporal matters in a way consistent with its spiritual mission, of which the exercise of temporal jurisdiction is a betrayal. The human person is drawn by nature to seek out and hold the truth whose fullness is revealed in God’s revelation in Christ, but this vision of human fulfillment implies a human subjectivity whose freedom must be respected as it seeks out the truth which fulfills it.
Patient freedom would not survive a single-payer federally controlled health care system. The right to life would not survive a single-payer health care system. The right of religious freedom and faithfully Catholic health care would not survive such a federally controlled single-payer system.
Debates over judicial review and constitutional interpretation only stand to benefit from deeper reflection on the type of political community the Constitution established. The Political Constitution invites us to take the word republic, and its vision of self-government, seriously.
War has the complexity of most of the human condition—so complex, indeed, that it often behaves like a force of nature, but with a human face. And that renders the question of determining the justice of a war a little like determining the justice of a tornado.
Through his life and writings, Czech dissident Václav Benda showed that political activity, in the highest sense, requires one to adhere steadfastly to moral principles and to take care that one’s efforts be effective. Above all one must act with and for one’s community: humbly seeking mutual understanding among community members and, as far as possible, fighting for the common good together.
Senator Warren, please don’t compromise what you know to be true for the sake of political expediency. Don’t hurt American families by pushing them farther and farther into the two-income trap. Most of all, please don’t create a system that penalizes moms who choose to stay home with their children.
How should we understand the common good of a political community? Is membership in a political community purely instrumental, like membership in a business venture? Or is it intrinsically good, worth pursuing in itself? The answer to this philosophical question has far-reaching political implications.
We need good measures of economic activity, but we must not presume that these measurements are impervious to political pressures, as though they were no more than the product of certain methods.
America’s relations with China should proceed from the recognition that the Chinese government is lawless. China flouts the rule of law, not occasionally or incidentally but characteristically, because the government understands itself as the source of law and unconstrained by it. The problem of China reminds us of the deeper laws that all nations must respect and that determine whether or not our positive laws are legally just.
In amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in cases about sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, some American Muslims argue from their beliefs while others push LGBT causes. This contrast provides non-Muslims a window into the teachings of Islam, and a ringside seat for intra-Muslim conflicts. At stake is whether truth claims or identity politics will prevail.
A consistent life ethic (CLE) should consider the totality of an act: not simply the consequences, but also the intention, the object chosen, and the circumstances of the act. Charles Camosy deserves our respect for boldly declaring the case for CLE, but the devil remains in the details. Without agreement on those details, the consistent life ethic remains as unpredictable and random as Calvinball.
The restoration of Western civilization from its present travails requires getting the story right. Gregg’s Reason, Faith, and the Struggle for Western Civilization may be the most important recent work in this area, offering an important corrective to the other stories on offer.
When it comes to healthcare, economics tells us that we can do better. Distributive justice demands from us that we do better. A judicious combination of market forces, regulation, and transfers can provide us with more efficient healthcare for all, at a cheaper price.
At a time when many are calling for a radical re-thinking of American political life, Catholic social teaching suggests that republicanism is a promising and viable path forward, provided that it place civic freedom and civic virtue at the service of a more substantive view of the purpose of human life.
The content of the new manuscript of Locke’s is not a view of toleration that we lost along the way and should hurry to recover for these troubled times. The text is actually a sobering reminder of the limits of a Lockean approach to religious toleration, which is based on a minimalistic understanding of religion.
At stake in the Harris Funeral Homes case is whether the physical reality of sex will be deemed a mere stereotype—whether, for all public and practical purposes, everyone’s “identity” is arbitrarily and accidentally related to his or her body as ghost to machine.
The constitutional framers knew that not everyone would always agree on how other people exercised their fundamental rights, such as property and religious liberty, which was precisely why those rights were enshrined in the Constitution. However, modern progressives have sought to undermine that constitutional consensus.
Activists are asking the Court to rewrite our nation’s civil rights laws in a way that would directly undermine one of their main purposes: protecting the equal rights of girls and women. Congress did not legislate such an outcome, and the Court should not usurp Congress’s authority by imposing such an extreme policy on the nation. Biology is not bigotry, and the Court should not conclude otherwise.
One of the unfortunate poisons that feminism leached into the culture is hostility between the sexes. We need to rescue feminism from that. We need to stress the importance of raising boys and girls who are open-hearted, respectful, and comfortable with themselves and each other. Adapted from an interview with Mona Charen conducted by Ana Samuel during The CanaVox state leaders meeting.