First, Mr. Kalb, I’ve enjoyed reading many of your essays, and found them interesting and educational. Thanks for your writing.
Here’s an idea I had, which I haven’t ever seen suggested (hmmm maybe there’s a reason for that…): an amendment to the Constitution along the lines of “Tradition, morality, religion, and the family (etc) are an indispensable part of the foundation of (the society, culture and politics of) the United States.” Obviously it has no specific legal meaning, which is part of the point.
This idea occurred to me for a number of reasons. Among your articles, I enjoyed the one arguing that America was founded on a compromise between explicit liberalism (now triumphant) and implicit tradition (now mostly excised), and such an amendment would make tradition and conservativism explicit. It would give some (or more) Constitutional justification from which to make traditional conservative arguments. It’s very nature as a non-legalistic (non-strictly rational, not the product of strict formal logic) amendment would give more legitimacy to such arguments, as its explicit content of course would.
A flag-burning amendment has been a hot (heh) topic lately, a marriage amendment also, but while I like both ideas they both seem absurdly particular and weak. Liberal Supreme Court judges have for 80 years been declaring unconstitutional laws constitutional, or making up their own. In the face of that, one amendment per issue, even if carefully written and properly interpreted, doesn’t seem like a successful strategy, though it’s better than nothing.
Since the statement is obviously true, it might enjoy widespread support. I think most people don’t know much about and aren’t very interested in politics, but observe and regret the disintegration or weakening of tradition, and when they found they agreed with the simple statement might support it. Thus I think it would be politically desirable, as well as entertaining, to see liberals fight against it. I think direct arguments against it would be hard to maintain; I imagine liberals would argue that it is some sort of subterfuge to establish a theocracy, or that it shouldn’t be enacted because it has no legal meaning.
Even if a large number of Republicans supported such an amendment, it would probably freak out libertarians and America: Propositional Nation types. However, even just the fight for such an amendment could provide a philosophical basis and practical point of convergence for American traditional conservatives.
Anyway, thanks again Mr. Kalb for your excellent work.