Other than MANLINESS, the best political analysis I’ve read this year is the English translation of a series of lectures by Pierre Manent--A WORLD BEYOND POLITICS? (I should put an amazon link here, but that would encourage dependency and insult your intelligence.) One glimpse of Manent’s contemporary wisdom:
"...the power of judges today [in many nations] rests ulimately not on the laws of the nation, not on its constitution, but on the foundation of the laws and the constitution, that is, ’human rights’ and the idea of ’humanity.’ Setting aside local laws, accepted usages, and international conventions and treaties, judges more and more claim to speak immediately in the name of humanity....[T]he new power of judges illustrates our impatience with mediations, in particularly political mediations, and our desire to recognize and achieve humanity immediately."
We can, of course, recognize Justice Kennedy’s unmediated interpretation of the single world "liberty" in the Fourteenth Amendment here in Lawrence v. Texas.
We can also see that the true division in American politics might not be, as James Ceaser contends, between the foundationalist conservatives and the non-foundationalists liberals.
Instead, it might between the left that insists on transforming all of life according to an abstract understanding of rights unmediated by the social, political, and religious truth about human nature and a right that insists that our understanding of rights must be mediated by that truth. It is between the "Europeans" and their American imitators who live lost in a postpolitical, postreligious, and postfamilial individualistic fantasy and Americans and their European sympathizers who think realistically of themselves not only as free individuals by as citizens, creatures, parents, children, and so forth.
The understanding of our country as divided into those devoted to mediated and those devoted to unmediated rights explains why we conservatives, despite our differences, are united in our opposition to judicial activism.
Before being too convinced too fast, remember that Manent is a controversial figure among readers of The Claremont Review. (Here there should be a link to articles in that review dealing with Manent, especially the strident criticism given by Bill Allen.)