Wehave seen how Mississippi, with its campus free speech bill, totally ignoredits own State constitution in favor of federal 1
Amendmentarguments. Now Texas is doing likewisein response to the San Antonio City Council’s decision to reject Chick-fil-A’srequest to be a vendor in the San Antonio International Airport. The opposition to this decision rests mostlyon federal 1
Amendment grounds:

AUSTIN, Texas (BP) — Religious liberty advocates held “Save Chick-fil-A Day” at the Texas Capitol yesterday (April 17) after the restaurant was banned from the San Antonio airport for donating to religious non-profits.

Religious freedom group Texas Values hosted the event in support of two bills before the Texas Legislature banning religious discrimination, weeks after the San Antonio City Council cited Chick-fil-A’s religious outreach as the sole reason for blocking the franchise from the San Antonio International Airport.

Texas Values sponsored the event as the legislature held public hearings on House Bill 1035, dubbed the Free to Believe Act, which would provide freedom of conscience protections; and House Bill 3172, the First Amendment Defense Act, which would protect religious beliefs and moral convictions regarding marriage. Both bills are still in committee.

Thankfully, local laws haven’t been forgotten entirely in this case;

But this is a definite trend: Legal challenges based on local and State laws and charters are overlooked in favor of those based on the federal charter. This is not how the constitutional system was promised to function (though the reader should, and probably does, know full well that Hamilton et al. knew all along that the promise was only a deception). We were told that it would allow for a wide freedom in how localities (States, counties/parishes, cities, neighborhoods, etc.) organized their respective corporate lives. What we are seeing now is the opposite: The U. S. constitution has in effect become a Procrustean bed on which all local variety of law and custom is being hacked into a one-size-fits-all system.

Whetherit is 2nd Amendment lawsuits by the Right against city or State gunrestrictions, or 14th Amendment lawsuits by the LGBT Left against the Christianmarriage laws of States, the trend is only growing stronger. There are a number of organizations dedicatedto making every nook and cranny in the union fit a particular pattern: the ACLU, Gun Owners of America, FourthAmendment Center, First Liberty Institute, and the rest of them.

Butwhy must Bangor, Maine, live exactly like Pawnee, Oklahoma, or Phoenix,Arizona, like Eau Claire, Wisconsin? Because we no longer have cohesive communities in the States with theirown common history and identity. Folksno longer even know the stories of their own families. They must either go to a genealogist, orhumiliate themselves by sending part of their most secret self, their DNA, tostand naked before some faceless lab technician working for, todiscover something about their past.

Wehave not got fully formed people who are united by their common faith, history,songs, poems, and the like. What we havegot are millions of uprooted, disconnected individuals (the ‘virtualcommunities’ of Twitter and Instagram don’t count) who move from one place toanother every few years or so in order to cash in on a better job offer from anational or transnational corporation. They may live in a place, but they are not part of it in any substantialway. Towns, cities, neighborhoods: They are all super-sized hotels now, temporaryholding pods for men and women constantly on the move up the corporate ladderwho have jettisoned their past. One ofthe few things they have that gives them a sense of belonging is politics. And people who are not grounded in aparticular place, culture, family, etc. will walk with their heads in the airyregions of the sky; they will be drawn to the most idealistic, theoretical, andabstract proposals presented to them. This is why the idea of America as a ‘propositional nation’ has such apowerful hold on so many in the States nowadays. Local, concrete institutions and traditions consecratedby the mists of time, to them, do not offer the same sort of power to ‘make adifference’ that national politics does. They are too rigid, slow-moving, cautious. But transformative, eschatological changemust happen now, without any waiting. Let all of them–birthplace, family, church, graveyard, neighborhoodschoolhouse, county courthouse, and the like–be thrown into the seethingcauldron of Progress to be fashioned anew according to the whims of the hour.

Thus, the U. S. constitution is now the iron bed, and ideology the knife, that these disciples of Procrustes use to shape their universe. To quote the Holy Apostle James, ‘My brothers, this should not be so’ (James 3:10). It is time we stopped fooling ourselves. This system isn’t going to get any better. It was not designed to; it was supposed to resolve itself into an all-powerful, anti-Christian national city. We have got to replace it with something that encourages the formation of healthy people and places, something that does not allow the politics of ideology to become entrenched.

Perhaps one of the best examples to look at for folks in the States is what existed during their colonial-tide, the happier and more normal years of ‘salutary neglect’ that Edmund Burke spoke about in his speech to Parliament (‘Speech on Conciliation with America’, 22 March 1775). While the States have made great strides physically, they have declined dramatically in other ways, with bureaucracy, technocracy, apostasy, idolatry, and so forth all choking the life out of the peoples of North, South, Midwest, and elsewhere.

Thingswere not quite so dire then. Before webecame part of the great epoch-shattering, world-transforming, new religion ofthe AMERICAN EXPERIMENT, most people understood that they belonged to a placehere in North America (whether Georgia, Delaware, etc.), and yet theyremembered their ties to their mother countries and did not let them wither(with the exception of New England, unfortunately, who started the whole ideaof forming a new ‘body politic’ divorced from the past from their very beginning).

Eachcolony was secure in its own laws and customs. No one would have imagined that he could walk into a neighboring colony orgo before the King’s Bench in England and sue to have that other colony’s lawsoverturned to conform to some fanciful ideology he worshipped.

Each colony had its own religion-ways that formed the communal life of the people of that colony: Congregational in New England, Quaker in Pennsylvania, Anglican in Virginia, etc. To have the self-gratifying, fragmenting spirit celebrated by Bon Jovi running through the houses of worship is a dangerous thing for community cohesiveness.

Much is made of religious freedom today, but that only breeds religious indifference, as we are witnessing now with the rise of the ‘nones.’ What we are after is a vibrant but balanced and stable Christian life/culture (both individual and communal) that we can pass on to our offspring. In order for that to be a reality, the government must in some way embrace and be embraced by the Church (as it was in colonial times and beforehand). For there is no such thing as a religiously neutral government. It will always be animated by some kind of belief system, which will become incarnate in its laws and other acts.

Forthese kinds of things to come about again, the States must return to theirancient constitution, with its mix of hereditary and elected elements that drawtheir life from the soil of Christianity and common law. As keen political observers from Plato tosome of the Antifederalists have noted, a people with mainly electedmagistrates is quickly ensnared by demagogues. Nobility AND commons, crown AND altar; these all together, not indialectical opposition but in Grace-filled cooperation, secure the welfare of acountry.

Manywill be quite irritated at even the hint of a king here in the States, but suchjealousy is unnecessary and even unnatural. There is a reason that we are so enchanted when we read about the greatkings of the past like Arthur in Wales and Alfred of England, or those infiction like Tolkien’s Aragorn. Just asthe unwritten constitution of the nuclear family calls for a father; just asthe unwritten constitution of the extended family, the clan, calls for apatriarch; so too the unwritten constitution of the ethnos, which includeswithin it all the extended families of the land (which is a picture of theSouth – a ‘vast cousinage’ as some have called it – and of most other traditionalfolk), calls for a father-figure, a king.

Andif even so zealous a proponent of political liberty as Patrick Henry couldoffer some praise on behalf of the King of England during the Virginia RatificationConvention of 1788, how much less difficult ought it to be for us to speak of restoringmonarchy here amongst the States in light of all that we have experienced from JohnAdams onward vis-à-vis the elected federal president:

From that noble source have we derived our liberty: that spirit of patriotic attachment to one’s country, that zeal for liberty, and that enmity to tyranny, which signalized the then champions of liberty, we inherit from our British ancestors. And I am free to own that, if you cannot love a republican government, you may love the British monarchy; for, although the king is not sufficiently responsible, the responsibility of his agents, and the efficient checks interposed by the British Constitution, render it less dangerous than other monarchies, or oppressive tyrannical aristocracies.–Patrick Henry, speech delivered 9 June 1788,

Thewritten constitution itself has proven to be too perfect a vehicle for thepropagation of positive law. Its mostbasic act, the act of voting, inflames within a person the idea that he is notbound by any kind of law,
, orprecedent but is instead
,creator of his own law. And this, too, isa powerful cause of the subversion of tradition we have been dwelling on. Thus, the attempted cure for the abuse byParliament of the common law the colonists loved so much has become an evengreater source of woe for their descendants. Much more thought needs to be given as to howthe unwritten customs of society can be defended and strengthened against the seeminglyunending onslaught of legislative laws, executive orders, and innovativejudicial rulings that bombard us from all levels of government.

Oneother thing seems necessary to suggest here at the end, which is at least asold as Thomas Jefferson: Let eachcultural region making up the current union become its own confederation. There is no reason for them to go onantagonizing each other by staying under one roof, trying to force theirfolkways each upon the others through the power structures of Washington City. There are sufficient ethnic, religious, andother kinds of differentiation between them to justify this: Viking-East Anglian New England, MormonMountain States, Scandinavian-Germanic Great Plains, Spanish Southwest, and soon. And poor Hawai’i: Can we finally give her back to the descendantsof Queen Lili’uokalani with our deepest apologies for Washington’s hostiletakeover in the 1890s?

Politicswill always be an essential part of Southern culture, or of any culture. But politics must not grow to such amagnitude of importance as to swallow up all other areas of culture. ‘Constitutional values’ in and of themselves,the kind Hannity and Levin are constantly rhapsodizing about, are not a culture(not a healthy one, at any rate). TheChristian virtues, Church Fathers, shape-note singing, harp and fiddle,Virginia reel, giant live oaks, blackberries from the cane, a white egretflying over a dark, slow-moving bayou, the front porch, county squires, thewise, grey-headed black man of the neighborhood, Greek tragedies, Roman pastorals,Eudora Welty’s stories: This is aculture. More particularly, it is allpart of Southern culture. Yet it must bestressed that this is only
ofit. A culture is an incredibly complex organism;it can never be reduced to a political or economic or some other kind offormula. But that is precisely what we aregetting more and more of here in the South and the rest of the States: a cultural life truncated to fit within theclauses of a constitution, and we can scarcely bear going an hour withouthearing the precious wisdom of Rush Limbaugh or Judge Jeanine. But they ain’t gonna save us. And Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi and the2020 elections ain’t gonna save us. If anyof the present gloom is going to be dispelled, the States will have to musterthe courage and humility to say that the glittering American Experiment hasfailed and go back to what has worked in our past, to our pre-Modern, medieval Europeaninheritance, from Spain and Portugal to the Ukraine and Russia; with itskaleidoscope of communities great and small (cities, hamlets, duchies, manors,villas, guilds, schools, monasteries, and such like) all united in theChristian Faith; with its respect for the mystery, the antinomy, of unity anddiversity; not the social engineer’s dream of ‘Out of many, one’, but ratherthe balancing of oneness and manyness together. How we should re-integrate that inheritance into present conditions is whereour discussion ought to begin.