Religious conservatives had better be nice, or at least start planning ahead, advises Douthat:
‘If religious conservatives are, in effect, negotiating the terms of their surrender, it’s at least possible that those negotiations would go better if they were conducted right now, in the wake of a Roe v. Wade-style Supreme Court ruling, rather than in a future where the bloc of Americans opposed to gay marriage has shrunk from the current 44 percent to 30 percent or 25 percent, and the incentives for liberals to be magnanimous in victory have shrunk apace as well.’
One way to look at this: There’s been a long, steady decline of religion’s influence in the public square, and more broadly throughout American culture. The gay marriage argument was lost some time ago in the public mind, for various reasons and the not-good-enough reasons made against it.
I believe it’s important to look at the concomitant rise in Civil Rights activism since the 60′s, often enacted into law, driving more freedom for ever more groups of people and individuals along the way. Because individual liberty is vital to our Constitutional project, and central to American thinking, Americans tend to be swayed when they look at lack of liberty for others as an issue of individual liberty for themselves.
Some of these Civil Rights and freedom movements, as I see them, are inextricably linked with ideological Leftism. These are the rights-based, identity-group, victimhood brands of activism which can scoop up the individual into a net, set him on the stove, and cook him for dinner.
There is the liberation theology of Rev Wright’s church. There is the progressive agenda which seeks socialized control of public goods and shrinks private wealth, eroding political freedoms. There is anti-humanist environmentalism. There is ideological feminism carting its decades of bad statistics, purity tests and political-power seeking along with it.
Gays and lesbians tend to do best when they put the matter in terms of individual liberty. They’re your children, friends and neighbors, after all. They’re individuals and people.
As a movement, though, I suspect many are quite happy to attach themselves to the Civil Rights train and its ideological discontents. I also suspect many gays and lesbians are happy to continue the move away from social and religious conservatism, and many traditions and customs woven into our institutions which have stood us well.
I can’t help but have sympathy with gays and lesbians, and don’t begrudge them their freedom (I’m American after all), especially those free-thinkers and defenders of liberty despite the opprobrium they’ve received.
Despite this, I know many of the forces driving change in our society continue to follow the logic inherent in some of the reasons behind those changes, serving some interests and not all, encouraging us to overlook basics regarding human nature and political power.
Onward we go.
Addition: Daniel McCarthy at the American Conservative The Supreme Court’s Gay-Marriage Gradualism.
Related On This Site: The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New Party…Ross Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’
How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge? Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French revolution Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution
Robert Nozick merged elements of Kant and Locke into a strong, libertarian defense of the individual, and also responded to Rawls distributive justice: A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”…From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’
Charles Murray is trying to get virtue back with the social sciences: Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’…Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People