Social Compact, American Style

By | 2018-07-28T21:33:24-07:00 July 28th, 2018|
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And the “debate” rages on. Mostly in nitpicky and unproductive directions. But a new attack by Robert Tracinski raises the grave and misunderstood question of the social compact, and so provides an opportunity to reorient ourselves around a true understanding of first principles.

But first, to Tracinski’s lesser points. He accuses me of “doctor[ing’]” a quote on the debate on the 14th Amendment without explaining why [I] previously failed to note the change in the quote or to explain it.”

In fact, I did note the change. That’s what brackets mean. If you see these two little symbols in a quote—[ ]—it means that the words, letters, or punctuation marks within them do not appear in the quote exactly as written. I thought that everyone who knows how to read English knew this elementary rule of punctuation. Apparently not.

As for not “explain[ing]” the purpose of the change, the charge is laughable. I explained at great length the meaning of the change. Indeed, most of the criticism of my response has been along the lines of “TL;DR.” So it’s rich now to be accused of not explaining.

Tracinski references a “series of other quotes” that I cited but he does not analyze any of them. Instead, he simply accuses me of forcing on them an “idiosyncratic interpretation.” He does not explain what is “idiosyncratic” about demonstrating, through quotations, that plain words which all say the same thing also mean the same thing. We should not be surprised that he does not do so because it would be hard to do.

To demonstrate that I am wrong, one would have to show either that all the quotes I cited either do not mean what they plainly mean, or else show that they were superseded by some later, different understanding. Tracinski does not even attempt either of these tasks. Nor do any of the rest of my critics, as far as I have been able to find . . . Read the rest at the Claremont Institute.

About the Author:

Michael Anton
Michael Anton is a lecturer and research fellow at Hillsdale College, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, and a former national security official in the Trump Administration. He formerly wrote under the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus when he was a senior editor of American Greatness.