Has ‘Liberal Proceduralism’ Evaporated and What Difference Does It Make?

Another note on the dust-up between Sohrab Ahmari and David French. It has to do with what is called ‘liberal proceduralism.’ Alan Jacobs describes it this way: “Proceduralism depends on the belief that my fellow citizens, while often wrong, indeed in some cases profoundly wrong, can be negotiated with. It depends on the belief that, while a world made precisely in my image may not be in the cards, if I and my fellow citizens agree to be bound by a common set of norms, then we can probably negotiate a tolerable social order. It depends on the belief that people whose politics differ from my own are not ipso facto evil, nor do they need to be pushed to the margins of society or forced out of it altogether.” Such proceduralism holds in common such principles as: everyone agrees to resolve their disagreements through democratic processes; free speech, (which also included speech that is not compelled); there is no religious test for who is allowed to the table; losers in elections will concede;, etc. Political outcomes are legitimate if they trace to such a process.

Ahmari believes that the left (though not all the left) no longer plays by those rules. It is “crush at any cost, by any means.” Today’s secular left, he is convinced, has no intention of playing fair, and if conservatives insist on playing by the discarded rules, they’re just setting themselves to be played for suckers.

David French still has faith that liberal proceduralism sets the table for political discussion and decision. After all, he asserts, Judge Kavanaugh did receive the votes needed to the on the Supreme Court. But even if the left has largely abandoned these principles, French asserts that a Christian is bound by those rules because they express Christian principles.

Rod Dreher chimes in, “It isn’t easy to critique the persona of someone as nice as French. Then again, it is in part that earnest and insistently polite quality of his that I find unsuitable to the depth of the present crisis facing religious conservatives. Which is why I recently quipped on Twitter that there is no ‘polite, David French-ian way around the culture war.”

The gist of Ahmari’s argument is that French is a classic liberal, who argues in terms suited to classical liberalism. But class liberalism is a dead end for Christians, and is nothing more than a way of negotiating our complete surrender to those who hate us and what we stand for. To keep ceding ground to those who have no intentional at all of tolerating us is a fool’s errand.

I think this difference in view concerning liberal proceduralism is now the fork in the road. Depending on how you see it, you will rely on the old tools or add to your toolbox those approaches which are ‘gloves off.’ What actually ‘gloves off’ means is yet to be determined, though Ahmari and some of the commentators at First Things see an example in Trump, who is willing to use the power of the government to push back the pirates of the left.

Sohrab Ahmari and David French Face Off – A Needed Debate

If you are a social conservative and wonder what’s with the anemic pushback from the GOP, this is a thread for you. In fact, if you are a socially conservative Roman Catholic or Evangelical and think something is strangely amiss in the political order that is failing to check the social/moral/cultural chaos that is sweeping away the barriers to the barbarism that is now within the gates, this, too, is for you.

At the root of it is an article by Sohrab Ahmari, the op-ed editor of the New York Post and a contributing editor of the Catholic Herald, who sees in David French of National Review much that is wrong with the model of the conservative engagement with the aggressive left. He basically asserts that French and those of his ilk have failed to see that the rules of engagement have changed. The left has now switched to the “win at any cost” MO – the old rules of ‘liberal proceduralism’ have been cast off. Ahmari calls conservatives (and the church) to realize civilized dialogue and debate are no longer the order of the day. As long as those like the National Review think we are in a debate guided by the rules of a cotillion society, the contest is over.

On Ahmari’s side, at least as far as cultural analysis is concerned, are Patrick Deneen and Rod Dreher. French thinks that to abandon liberal proceduralism is being unfaithful to Christ, even if the other side is smoking the conservatives.

This is a gloves off, face-off, and a necessary debate. I have put the debate links in an order so that you can follow the thread of thought with the least possible trouble. I have added the thought or Dr. Robert George, who is mostly sympathetic to French, and Rod Dreher. I tend to side with Ahmari, but like Dreher I tend to be 75% for Ahmari and 25% with French.








Do Illegal Immigrants Commit Crimes At A Smaller Rate Than Americans?

Here’s a good listen from Boston radio host Howie Carr on illegal immigration. He and a representative from FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) take a closer look at the constant assertion that illegal immigrants commit crime at a lesser rate than do Americans, despite the fact that they constitute 23% of federal prisoners. The rates at the State level are similar and even higher, with NJ being the highest. This does not take into account the vast numbers of illegals who are arrested and plead down so they will not be deported.

We are being constantly lied to about the danger Americans are in, because as we all know, or so the Christian elite tell us, Jesus wants us to accept the collateral damage it all brings so that we can be more like, well, Jesus. Go to the 19:21 mark to give a listen. And here is the FAIR report: “SCAAP Data Suggest Illegal Aliens Commit Crime at a Much Higher Rate Than Citizens and Lawful Immigrants.”

A Pro-Life Prayer Liturgy

Petition: read by the Leader

Response: We pray to the Lord.

Psalm: recited by the assembly


For a change in laws, policies, and attitudes that discriminate against and marginalize unborn children.

How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the Law of Yahweh.
Blessed are those who observe his instructions, who seek him with all their hearts, and, doing no evil, who walk in his ways.
You lay down your precepts to be carefully kept.
May my ways be steady in doing your will.
Then I shall not be shamed, if my gaze is fixed on your commandments.
I thank you with a sincere heart for teaching me your upright judgments. Psalm 119: 1-7

For a new Culture of Life, that welcomes children with a self-sacrificing love that says, “This is my body, given for you” .

I shall do your will; do not ever abandon me wholly.
How can a young man keep his way spotless? By keeping your words.
With all my heart I seek you, do not let me stray from your commandments.
In my heart I treasure your promises, to avoid sinning against you.
Blessed are you, Yahweh, teach me your will! Psalm 119: 8-12

For all elected officials, that they courageously advance the protection of vulnerable human life.

With my lips I have repeated all the judgments you have given.
In the way of your instructions lies my joy, a joy beyond all wealth.
I will ponder your precepts and fix my gaze on your paths.
I find my delight in your will, I do not forget your words.
Be generous to your servant and I shall live, and shall keep your words.
Open my eyes and I shall fix my gaze on the wonders of your Law. Psalm 119: 13-18

For all children who have been lost by abortion, that they be received into the eternal dwelling prepared for them in heaven.

My destiny is in your hands; rescue me from my enemies,
from the hands of my pursuers. Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your mercy. Psalm 31:16-17

For all mothers and fathers of aborted children, that they may find the road to healing and peace.

Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me. Psalm 51:3-4

For all who lay down their lives, their resources, and their reputations to defend unborn children from abortion.

See how many are my enemies, see how fiercely they hate me.
Preserve my soul and rescue me; do not let me be disgraced, for in you I seek refuge.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; I wait for you, O LORD. Psalm 25:19-21
For all women who have had abortions, and for those who feel tempted and afraid.
Magnify the LORD with me; and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me, delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4-5

For those who govern us, that they may have the heart and mind of a good shepherd, and keep the protection of human life as their first priority.

Make known to me your ways, LORD; teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4
For those who speak up for the sanctity of life, but find ridicule and rejection in return, that they may have the blessings that belong to the prophets.
For those blessed by the Lord will inherit the earth, but those accursed will be cut off.
The valiant one whose steps are guided by the LORD,
who will delight in his way, may stumble, but he will never fall,
or the LORD holds his hand. Psalm 37:22-24

For women who are pregnant but feel afraid and abandoned, that despite their afflictions, the grace of God and the help of others will give them the strength to welcome and nurture new life.

In their distress they cried to the LORD, who rescued them in their peril,
Guided them by a direct path so they reached a city to live in.
Let them thank the LORD for his mercy, such wondrous deeds for the children of Adam. Psalm 107:6-8
In thanksgiving for the many children who have been saved from abortion through the efforts of the pro-life movement.
The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD, their refuge in a time of distress.
Psalm 37:39

That all medical professionals involved in the practices of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia, may experience conversion of mind and heart and cease these activities.

Bless the LORD, my soul; and do not forget all his gifts,
Who pardons all your sins, and heals all your ills,
Who redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with mercy and compassion.
Psalm 103:2-4

That all who are pregnant and afraid may welcome the life within them, and draw strength from the angel Gabriel’s words to Mary: Do not fear.

The LORD helps and rescues them, rescues and saves them from the wicked,
because they take refuge in him. Psalm 37:40

That all who despair because of a past abortion may open their hearts to repentance and the merciful forgiveness of the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. Psalm 103:12-13

That children still on their way to birth may be welcomed and protected rather than feared and rejected.

The LORD will guard you from all evil; he will guard your soul.
The LORD will guard your coming and going both now and forever. Psalm 124:7-8
In thanksgiving for all creation and for all life, which comes from the Lord of the earth, the sky, and the sea.
Praise God in his holy sanctuary; give praise in the mighty dome of heaven.
Give praise for his mighty deeds, praise him for his great majesty. Psalm 150:1-2

For families, that they be filled with the graces that flow from marriage and parenthood, and become true sanctuaries of life.

Pleasant places were measured out for me; fair to me indeed is my inheritance.
I bless the LORD who counsels me; even at night my heart exhorts me.
I keep the LORD always before me; with him at my right hand, I shall never be shaken.
Psalm 16:6-8

That as God brings us love and justice, we may build a society of love and justice, based on respect for each and every human life.

We do not cease praying and asking that we may be filled with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to live in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy. Colossians 1:9-11

That as God made a covenant with all living things, so we His people may grow in our respect for life, and actively protect it.

Teach me, LORD, your way that I may walk in your truth,
single-hearted and revering your name. I will praise you with all my heart,
glorify your name forever, Lord my God. Psalm 86:11-12

That Christ, who was presented to His Father in the temple, may deepen our understanding that every human life belongs to God and is sacred to Him.

But the LORD’s mercy is from age to age, toward those who fear him.
His salvation is for the children’s children of those who keep his covenant,
and remember to carry out his precepts. Psalm 103:17-18

That those who are tempted to have their children aborted may find in the Christian community the wisdom and resources to protect the new lives that have been entrusted to them.

The LORD knows the days of the blameless; their heritage lasts forever.
They will not be ashamed when times are bad; in days of famine they will be satisfied. Psalm 37:18-19

That the endless mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus may lift out of despair those who have participated in abortions, and make them defenders of life.

The LORD helps and rescues them, rescues and saves them from the wicked,
because they take refuge in him. Psalm 37:40

That the Holy Spirit, who gives Life, may breathe over our nation and create a new Culture of Life that welcomes the stranger, feeds the poor, and cherishes every child, born and unborn.

I call upon you; answer me, O God. Turn your ear to me; hear my speech.
Show your wonderful mercy, you who deliver with your right arm
those who seek refuge from their foes. Psalm 17:6-7

That all nations may honor Christ the King as the only Lord and giver of Life, and in His name, abolish the practice of abortion and euthanasia.

Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Ephesians 3:20:21

That all nations may walk in the Light of Christ by enacting policies that protect human life, which is always a manifestation of God’s glory.

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12
That God may protect all unborn babies, and keep them safe from the scourge of abortion.
You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me; with glad cries of freedom you will ring me around. Psalm 32:7

That Jesus, who sympathizes with our weakness, may grant forgiveness and healing to all who have committed the sin of abortion.

I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts. I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more. Jer 31:33-34

That those ordained to proclaim the Gospel may never hesitate to speak up for the victims of abortions and infanticide.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Whatever you did for one of these least of my brothers you did for me. Mt 28:19-20, 25:40

That the Spirit of Wisdom may fill all those who counsel parents who are tempted to abort their children or who have already done so.

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

That God, who sent His Son to save and not to condemn, will touch the hearts of all who have had abortions, and bring them the gift of repentance, forgiveness, and healing.

He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col 1:13-14

That God may bless all doctors and nurses, and help them use their skills to heal and foster life, and never destroy it.

For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls. 1Pet 2:25

That mothers who are pregnant but afraid of their motherhood may, with the help of the Church, find the courage and strength they need to give life.

Look toward me, and have pity on me, for I am alone and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and bring me out of my distress. Put an end to my affliction and my suffering and take away all my sins. Psalm 25: 16-18

The Dems Unleash An Attack on the Electoral College in the New Congress

Here we go!! The Dems are attacking the Electoral College in Congress. Go here. The hope of the Dems is mob rule, the exact very thing that our Founders resisted in the original construction of our Democratic Republic. The Electoral College is at the core of this check on direct democracy, as well as the original design to have Senators chosen by State Legislatures rather than directly chosen by voters, which was, of course, changed to direct vote. That has not been a change to the good. The real hope of the Dems is to unleash both coasts and Chicago to dominate the political landscape. Flyover country, the bane of the Dems, will simply dry up politically. (The Dems might need all that land for their collectivized farming.)

Such a bill has no hope of getting through Congress for now. It must pass by two thirds of both houses and be approved by two thirds of all the states. Yet this is a sign of the anti-Constitutional bias of the Dems, who find that federalism is getting in their way. Trump has been accused of undermining the Constitution with his populism, yet there is no move by him to alter our federalism. Indeed, he has made moves to strengthen it as one of the means to protect the people from the Dems and their love affair with direct control and their anti-Constitutional DNA.

Pure democracy has always been the sand in the gears of democratic governance over time. For an example in the 20th century, see what happened to Spain when they overthrew the monarchy in 1931 for direct democracy. It descended into chaos and unchecked street violence. George Orwell saw this as someone who went to Spain to help the Republicans, and ended up his book “Homage to Catalonia” as a response to the horror he saw. (By the way, the first things this new government did was legalize abortion and support the breakdown of traditional marriage.) Pure democracies cater to our worst instincts and always end with the people taking up arms against each other. As we have seen over the last few years, the Dems and many of their supporters are not uncomfortable with the breakdown of order and the unleashing of violence on the streets.
Here is a series on the Spanish Civil War on YouTube. It was produced in the 80s and well done as an overview. The Spanish Civil War teaches us that pure democracy leads to pure totalitarianism, a la Napoleon after the French Revolution and Franco after the overthrow of the Spanish Monarchy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqn0kiYBiMI&t=4s

There are large forces at work here, folks. It seems overwhelming to the man on the street who is just trying to build his own place of peace on his own plot of land for his own family. His experience with politics is draining, disappointing, and miserable. Yet it is the means available to us to keep the wickedness at bay, that keeps knocking on our door and wants in. As Ray Bradbury put it, “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”

In broad outline the nature of the conflict is clear. Where that conflict will go is clear. What will stop it is clear. The one thing that is not clear is whether or not you will let it happen or seek to get your piece of the pie and hope that time doesn’t run out before it’s your piece of the pie that they come for.

BTW, here is a useful Prager video on the Electoral College.