A commemoration of the Constitution calls for impertinent arguments. Mine is this: Our campaign-finance regime ought to be as unregulated as possible, but not for the reasons commonly supposed.
Constitutions are naturally conserving documents. Their purpose is to say what a society cannot change, or at least cannot change readily. In constitutive moments, polities lash themselves like Odysseus to the mast, not the pilot’s seat.
This is lost on those political commentators, ascendant during the NFL’s anthem controversy, who seek to press the language of the Constitution’s Preamble into the service of Progressivism. We are talking about Progressivism with a capital “P”— the strain that believes in unrelenting progress as the inherent good of man and the inevitable trajectory of events. The phrase in question is an old rhetorical favorite: the Preamble’s quest for “a more perfect union.”
A plausible concern animates Francis J. Beckwith’s Taking Rites Seriously: Law, Politics, and the Reasonableness of Faith. If you don’t get religious rites, you can’t uphold, defend, or even understand religious rights. As Beckwith notes, many with “real legal and political power” as well as “highly respected and influential academics, writers, and media figures” mischaracterize and seem to misunderstand religious beliefs and the people who hold them. One side of the culture wars “sees itself and its advocates as the guardians of rationality” and its opponents as people who adopt “nonrational delusions that deserve no greater constitutional protections or civil respect…