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This was a really good piece. One of the best you’ve written, along with your response to Jonah Goldberg’s 3rd party trial balloon.

The only thing I might add is that liberal values aren’t value neutral. Free speech and the right to speedy trial by jury are intrinsically valuable. You’re absolutely right that virtue must be chosen, not handed down from above. But also religious tolerance is a virtue. The presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty is virtuous.

You stray close to this at times: “Freedom and virtue are not enemies.”

One half of that is that virtue must be chosen freely. The other half is that “value neutral” propositions that undergird free society aren’t value neutral but rather virtuous.

The MacGuffin of human tragedy! That’s a good line.

“ Liberal democracy and republicanism provide no guarantee to these things. The best they can do is establish a baseline where the people are free to choose virtue and choose virtuous leaders. What liberalism gives us is the ability to stand for virtue, cultivate virtue, and define virtue through the exercise of independent action and voluntary organization.”

This is another important point. Too often, the end-of-history types gloss it over. We’re free to elect idiots and sometimes we do. Our elected officials today reflect us well. Donald Trump wasn’t the president we wanted, but the one we deserved - and that’s not a good thing.

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