Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

What Would Tocqueville Do?

Michael Gerson summarizes this paper, presented at this conference (other papers here). Here’s Gerson’s conclusion:

It would be nice if teen sexual behavior could be automatically changed by an abstinence lecture or a sermon. Setting those norms and expectations, however, is a small part of a larger cultural task. Moral men and women need moral communities.

This is why an abstinence program, by itself, may not accomplish much. And this is why there are no substitutes for healthy communities, beginning with families, in which young people are embedded.

In this context, the right question to ask of any government program is: does it support or "empower" families and "civil society"? Perhaps another way of putting it is: What Would Tocqueville Do?

Discussions - 3 Comments

A lot of things, by themselves, do not much good.

The key is by themselves.

Move along ...

Nothing to see here.

The question isn't what the abstinence program will accomplish of itself. Certainly teen sex is a far larger problem than this very modest, very idealistic initiative. But if we can't take small steps, we won't be able to take big steps. Social conservatives have a duty to promote their views to the greatest extent possible. To allow abstinence programs to be shut down, or (uh) neutered, is to give in to the ACLU and their fellow travelers. It is to contribute to the further marginalization and disempowerment of those who champion a public culture that honors family values. Whether we think their program is effective or not, we have a political and cultural duty to stand by the abstinence people as allies. The social science of the matter is, repeat, not the key question.

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