David Brooks is probably right when he writes, as he did in his Friday column: "The crucial battleground is cultural and prepolitical."
And Matthew Continetti is probably right when he writes, as he did in his Saturday column:
virtues of restraint, frugality, reticence, self-control, self-discipline, and fidelity are not only absent in our public life. They are denigrated. Nor is this a mere political phenomenon....[Irving] Kristol wrote in the tradition of the great civic republicans. For them, the success or failure of a political community depended on private virtue....Finally, there is the ongoing decline of religion. Five decades ago, Kristol called this "the most profound change of all." Today, the fastest growing religious affiliation in the country is Americans professing no religious affiliation. "All human societies have to respond to two fundamental questions. The first is: 'Why?' The second is: 'Why not?' ... It is religion that, traditionally, has supplied the answers to these questions." Increasing numbers of Americans, however, look elsewhere.
I don't agree with everything in either the Brooks or the Continetti columns. I think they both are probably a little too grim about our current situation, though I could be wrong. But I do think they are both on to something important.