We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
This is a lengthy (14 p), scholarly, reflective essay on the history and evolution of modern conservative thinking from the 1930s to the present.
A quote from a section on marriage:
The contract tradition’s reduction of human beings to autonomous individuals fosters a self-conception that destabilizes the marriage bond; the welfare state then “lubricates” exit from marriage with various substituting benefits. Love, it has been said, is the willingness to belong to another. There is really no place for such love in a world of autonomous individuals bristling with rights — the world which liberalism understands as “natural.” The popularity of a therapeutic language of “fulfillment” in contemporary America only exacerbates the weak institutional support that liberal jurisprudence provides for marriage. Traditional religious marriage ceremonies often included a prominent discussion of sacrifice, not a concept with ready appeal to autonomous individuals.
Traditional conservatives tend to see marriage as entering into a status, rather than concluding a contract, and they would like to see this reflected in culture, law, and public policy. Thus, they look with approbation on movements such as Promise Keepers which work to shape popular culture in a family-friendly way. They would repeal the no-fault divorce revolution if they could — and indeed, some Catholic traditionalists would prefer the laws of marriage which prevailed until recently in several Latin American countries where divorce was effectively impossible. The experiment with “covenant marriages” is viewed as a step forward, but a very small one. Traditionalists also favor significantly shifting tax burdens from families to the single and childless. Again, Bush’s increased child tax credits are a small step forward.
A concluding quote:
In the end, it is perhaps that most eccentric of American thinkers, the nineteenth-century Catholic convert Orestes Brownson, who provides us with the intellectual tools for grappling with the American experience. As Peter Augustine Lawler observes in his exceptionally valuable introduction to a new edition of The American Republic, Brownson’s teaching is that the American regime is the greatest political achievement since Rome. But it is not the city laid up in heaven. Like every achievement within the saeculum, its justice is limited and it is mortal. The sun will set too on the era of American exceptionalism. When it does, those who have placed their fondest hopes in the promises of ideological politics may feel themselves dispossessed and demoralized; but those who have hearkened to the teachings of the traditionalists may find themselves, at last, at home.