Brettschneider Reading Group: Chapter 5

I want to begin by thanking Corey for the opportunity to read his wonderful book. I found it well-written, original, and thought-provoking, and I am sympathetic to many aspects of his approach. While I sometimes disagreed, I always struggled to find good reasons to justify my disagreement, which is the mark of a sharp argument! Since Kevin has already summarized the main points of Chapter 5, I won’t do that again. Instead, I’d like to reflect on the issue of religious freedom against the background of the book as a whole.

I want to focus on a question raised by Corey himself, toward the end of Chapter 5: does the account of democratic persuasion defended here risk the “extinction” of religion (157)? Chapter 5’s main argument is that the state, in its expressive capacity, ought to attempt to transform its citizens’ religious beliefs when those beliefs oppose liberal democracy’s core values. This is a provocative view, not least because it raises the specter of incompatibility between certain types of religious faith and good citizenship. Is it possible for an Orthodox Jew, a practicing Catholic, an evangelical Protestant, or a conservative Muslim to be a good citizen of a value democracy, without transforming their religious doctrines to the point where these doctrines are nearly indistinguishable from a secular ethical liberalism?

An analogous worry is familiar from popular culture, where religious people often raise suspicious objections about “transformative” liberal projects. Their objection is that while these liberal projects are “officially” capable of being endorsed by a wide variety of doctrines and perspectives, in reality they turn out to be extensionally equivalent to a secular ethical liberalism. While I am not myself religious, I feel some sympathy for these objections, and I think it is important for political liberals to show that such suspicions are false. They need to demonstrate that one can be a devout religious believer and a good political liberal at the same time.

Before exploring further, I want to clarify the sense in which I am asking whether religious believers can be good citizens. Corey emphasizes many times over that individuals have fundamental rights to religious liberty and to basic freedoms of association, conscience, and expression. The means-based constraint on the state’s democratic persuasion holds that the state must respect these rights in its efforts at transformation, even in cases where citizens espouse doctrines opposed to democratic values. Corey is crystal clear that religious believers may not be coercively sanctioned by the state for their views. So I am not arguing that Corey denies one can adhere to certain (hateful or discriminatory) religious doctrines and still be a lawful citizen of a liberal democracy, free from coercive penalty.

Yet the matter does not end there. For Corey also emphasizes that liberal citizens are under an (unenforceable) moral duty to engage in “reflective revision” of their private beliefs, including their religious beliefs. And where citizens fail to adequately revise their beliefs on their own, the state may exercise its expressive capacity to criticize their views. A virtuous citizen, it seems, is one who makes good on this duty of reflective revision. What I want to know is whether a citizen can be fully virtuous—having reflectively revised her views—and still be religious? Would an “ideal” democracy, composed of all and only virtuous citizens, be a completely secular democracy?

Corey would say, I think, that it is possible for religious people to remain religious once their views have been adequately reflectively revised, and this seems right.  Indeed, his ability to say this seems quite important for the success of his overall project. Corey emphasizes that the normative ideal that motivates his project is a political ideal, not a religious or metaphysical one. One can believe that people ought to be treated as political equals without necessarily accepting that they are metaphysically or comprehensively equal in all respects. (On p. 35, he states, for example, that one might refuse—compatibly with political values—to accept that all people are equal in the eyes of God, since some fail to endorse the true religion).

But these “official” statements on Corey’s part do not fully lay my worry to rest. What I want to know is how it is possible for religious people to remain religious once their views are reflectively revised, and we cannot answer this question until we have a fuller handle on the requirement of reflective revision. According to Corey, reflective revision requires the following: a virtuous citizen must internalize the moral reasons that underlie democratic rights and she must use those reasons to transform her religious and private beliefs in order to make them consistent with democratic values. The question is: how thoroughgoing is this transformation process meant to be? How distinguishable is an acceptable end product of this process from a comprehensive ethical liberalism? Does reflective revision require us to jettison any and all private inegalitarian commitments? Or is it compatible with some residual inegalitarian elements in our comprehensive views, as long as these elements do not “infect” our commitment to the public values of liberal democratic citizenship?

I want to explore various possible models of reflective revision on Corey’s behalf, noting their benefits and drawbacks. First, consider a very weak model of reflective revision: the pure political model. On this model, a citizen adequately meets the requirement of reflective revision as long as he discards any private beliefs that entail that people should not be afforded equal legal rights of citizenship. It is consistent with the pure political model, however, that he remains committed to many other inegalitarian beliefs, as long as these do not affect his political views. A person could see blacks as biologically inferior, or women as emotional and weak—and even act on these beliefs in his family or in civil society—so long as he did not conclude that these beliefs justify limiting these groups’ legal rights. Occasionally Corey says things that point toward this model—for example, he claims that some religious groups “whose internal policies make them appear hostile to [democratic] principles might not be subject to transformation, as long as they do not seek to impose their religious beliefs on others with the force of law” (165). But mostly he rejects this model as too weak.

Corey argues that our duty of reflective revision extends to beliefs and practices that go beyond public law-making to traditionally “private” spheres, like the family or civil society. He defends the principle of public relevance: “private” beliefs and practices that conflict with the ideal of free and equal citizenship can be matters of public concern, and they should be changed to make them compatible with democratic values.  Such inegalitarian beliefs and practices are publicly relevant when they affect “the ability of citizens to function in society and to see others as free and equal citizens” (29). Two examples of publicly relevant beliefs discussed by Corey are: a father who, as an official on the town school board, votes for equal funding for boys’ and girls’ sports programs, but forbids his own daughters from competing in sports, in the belief that they should instead learn domestic skills (56); and a university teacher who refuses to mentor certain students on racist or sexist grounds (65). Both these people, says Corey, have duties to revise their beliefs even though these beliefs do not obviously affect their engagement in law-making or limit other people’s legal rights. Because Corey argues that reflective revision extends to traditionally “private” spheres, we must therefore reject the pure political model as the proper interpretation of reflective revision.

But if pure political model is not enough, how far are we to go? How do we know which private beliefs and practices are publicly relevant?  Is it all of them, or only some partial subset? I am not entirely sure of Corey’s answer. He cites three factors that might help us further interpret public relevance: democratic congruence, interconnection, and public trust. Of these three, as Sarah Conly noted in her post, democratic congruence and public trust apply only to public officials. But the third factor, interconnection, also applies to ordinary citizens, and could be a promising guide to interpreting public relevance’s boundaries. The idea behind interconnection is that sometimes ostensibly “private” decisions by nongovernmental actors have the potential to undermine people’s effective ability to attain and enjoy equal citizenship. The basic thought is that equal citizenship is not just a formal legal right, but also requires the presence of sufficient material options and opportunities, and sometimes people’s private decisions impact the availability of these options and opportunities. This points to a possible interpretation of the principle of public relevance: when our private beliefs and behavior are interconnected with our fellow-citizens’ ability to effectively enjoy equal citizenship, we have a responsibility to reflectively revise those inegalitarian beliefs, so as not to unduly limit their options and opportunities. But where our private beliefs are not interconnected with public outcomes, they need not be revised or criticized. Corey does not further develop this idea of interconnection, however, and it’s hard to know exactly how to spell it out.

Having rejected the pure political model, then, let me suggest two other models of reflective revision that might fit with Corey’s project. The first I call the filtering model. On this model, all our private beliefs and practices are publicly relevant, whether religious or not, whether they belong to a traditionally “private” sphere or not. Any belief that is incompatible with the democratic ideal of free and equal citizenship needs to be discarded or revised. The intuitive idea is that we must “filter” our private comprehensive views through a “sieve” of democratic freedom and equality. If any of our pre-existing views don’t fit through the sieve, then we revise or discard them until they all do. If we adopt the filtering model of reflective revision, then there is unlikely to be much space in the end between a comprehensive ethical liberalism and the acceptable product of a religious citizen’s reflective revision process. There would be no contexts in which one might permissibly believe that homosexuality is condemned, that women were meant to stay home and raise children, or that interracial marriage is unacceptable, because none of these commitments can pass through the filter of democratic values. What can pass the filter are “comprehensive” analogues of political freedom and equality, and perhaps some additional theological grounding for these values. If the filtering model is the right model of reflective revision, then I think the religious person’s worry—that an Orthodox Jew, an evangelical Christian, or a practicing Catholic is not going to end up being an acceptable liberal citizen—starts to have some bite.

But there are intimations in Corey’s text of another, slightly weaker, model of reflective revision: call this the contextual model. On the contextual model, not all religious beliefs and practices are publicly relevant, because some beliefs operate only in contexts that have no impact on one’s fellow citizens’ ability to enjoy the options and opportunities of equal citizenship. Corey points toward something like this model at certain points in the text: for example, at p. 135, he says that banning Catholic female priests or Orthodox women rabbis “does not implicate [women’s] larger status in society,” and at p. 136, he claims that “not all theological inequalities are civic inequalities.”  The contextual model holds out the promise of a residual “private” sphere of religious belief and practice: a virtuous citizen is free to hold whatever inegalitarian religious beliefs she wants in contexts where those beliefs do not jeopardize other people’s enjoyment of the options and opportunities of equal citizenship.

On this view, it might be perfectly acceptable to believe that the sexes should remain segregated at religious services, that God condemns homosexuality, or that interfaith marriage should be frowned upon, as long as adherents can act on these beliefs (perhaps within their religious communities) without in any way undermining their fellow-citizens’ equal status within the wider society. If this is possible, then religious people should be permitted to retain their inegalitarian doctrines, and should not be subjected to democratic persuasion at the hands of the state. But where inegalitarian religious beliefs begin to undermine others’ effective equal status, these beliefs ought to be revised or discarded. If citizens refuse to revise their doctrines on their own, then the state can engage in democratic persuasion of them.

The contextual model seems potentially attractive as a way for the political liberal to go beyond the pure political approach, while still accommodating a private sphere of religious belief. It may not lay to rest all the worries of the religious citizen, but it does show that it is possible in principle for a virtuous citizen to hold comprehensive doctrines that are not extensionally equivalent to secular ethical liberalism. What really needs fleshing out for this model to work is the idea of interconnection. Exactly what material options and opportunities must one enjoy to be an effectively equal citizen?  How do we know if our private religious practices are unduly limiting these opportunities?

To conclude, I want to ask whether there any limit to the religious beliefs a virtuous citizen could be required to revise in a value democracy. Does it matter whether the beliefs are of a particularly intimate and personal nature, or if they are especially central to one’s theological outlook? Consider three examples.  A Baptist mother raises her three teenage daughters in accordance with traditional gender stereotypes, citing Ephesians 5:22: “Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” An Orthodox Jewish synagogue refuses to recognize interfaith marriages because it fears they will lead to the destruction of the Jewish people. A Catholic university refuses to provide abortion counseling or contraception in its student health service. Will these people be required to revise their beliefs in a value democracy? How Corey answers that question seems to me important in judging whether members of mainstream religions can in the end be virtuous citizens on his view.


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5 Responses to Brettschneider Reading Group: Chapter 5

  1. Minh Ly says:

    I want to comment quickly on one point in Annie’s excellent and clarifying post on chapter five. The point is that reflective revision would lead religions to become equivalent to “secular ethical liberalism.” In response, I believe we should distinguish between a religion becoming “secular” and it specifically changing one of its beliefs regarding citizenship.

    A religion would become secular if it rejected its belief in God. But a religion does not become secular — it does not abandon its faith in the divine — if it changes its stance on free and equal citizenship. Rawls gives the example of the change in Catholicism’s stance towards freedom of religion after Vatican II. The Catholic Church did not become secular when it adopted the reasons for rights with the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration of Religious Freedom (Rawls 1999, 21). It did not lose its religious character or abandon its belief in God.

    Another way to respond to the worry about reflective revision is to point out that it can actually protect religious practice and diversity. One of the rights that it promotes is religious freedom. There is a danger that if citizens do not reflectively revise their religious beliefs and endorse the reasons for rights, they might act to persecute minority religions. For example, in the Lukumi case, the city of Hialeah, Florida passed a religiously motivated law that targeted the minority Santeria faith. If citizens reflectively revised their religious beliefs to endorse the reasons for rights, as the Catholic Church did after Vatican II, they would be less likely to persecute minority religions.

    Third, I think Annie’s criticism of reflective revision would have particular force if the state were promoting ethical or comprehensive liberalism. But, as she recognizes, Corey’s view is that of political liberalism, which does not address every aspect of how people should live their lives and conduct their relationships. Political liberalism is concerned more narrowly with protecting the free and equal status of citizens. It does not recommend a total transformation of religion, but a more limited change in their stance towards free and equal citizenship. This change in endorsing the reasons for rights should encouraged by reason-giving and persuasion on Corey’s view, and not by coercive laws (this is the “means-based limit” on democratic persuasion).

    Corey thus adopts a moderate “contextual model” (to use Annie’s term) when it comes to reflective revision. As Annie accurately describes it, “On the contextual model, not all religious beliefs and practices are publicly relevant, because some beliefs operate only in contexts that have no impact on one’s fellow citizens’ ability to enjoy the options and opportunities of equal citizenship.”

    To more fully answer Annie’s worries about reflective revision and its effect on religion, I do think that it would be helpful if Corey clarified the implications of his view for the three relevant examples that Annie raises (the gender stereotype, interfaith marriage, and contraception cases).

  2. Anna Stilz says:

    Hi Minh,

    Thanks so much for reading my post and taking the time to write such a helpful reply. I agree with much of what you say in your post. I want to highlight that I am not rejecting Corey’s view so much as questioning how far “reflective revision” is meant to extend for him. I think Corey is right that citizens have a moral duty to engage in at least some reflective revision of their beliefs. A religion that is intolerant–such as the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church or the Christians in the Lukumi case–should certainly revise its commitment to intolerance, for example.

    But how far is reflective revision meant to go? Must we revise all religious beliefs at odds with democratic values, or just some of them, and if so, which ones? Here I think post-Vatican II Catholicism is a good example case. The church has changed its stance on religious freedom, but it still endorses positions on women’s issues and homosexuality that are at odds with democratic values. Is it required to revise these positions as well?

    Suppose the Catholic Church, evangelical Protestantism, orthodox Judaism, Islam, etc. fully revised *all* their doctrinal commitments to bring them into line with democratic values. As you say, they would still count as “religions” because they would still believe in God, and nothing in Corey’s book says that belief has to be revised away. But the worry is that the belief in God would be a “residual” belief, disconnected from most of their other ethical commitments. Notice that in this case the ethical commitments of Catholicism, evangelical Protestantism, orthodox Judaism, and Islam would closely resemble each other, and they would be largely indistinguishable from the ethical commitments of secular society. Each of these religions would believe in democratic values and in the existence of a God who sanctions these values, and they would pair these commitments with some distinctive rituals and customs, deriving from their religious tradition. But their ethical commitments would be not really be generated by that religious tradition, but rather by democratic values. This would be reflective revision taken to an extreme.

    What Corey wants to advocate is something a bit weaker than this, I think, a dialectical model in which one’s religious beliefs and one’s democratic commitments become intertwined, without religious beliefs (even some inegalitarian beliefs) being entirely superseded. This sounds promising, but I still wonder how many inegalitarian beliefs a religious person is morally required to revise. Must Catholics revise their positions on homosexuality and abortion to be good citizens? Must Orthodox Jews embrace interfaith marriage? Must evangelical Christians abandon the view that a woman’s place is in the home? I think these are interesting questions for a position like Corey’s, to see how far reflective revision is supposed to go.

  3. Peter Stone says:

    I must confess, discussions of this topic make me a bit testy. Perhaps it’s because, in my entire life, I have never heard a religious believer express heartfelt concern over the possibility that atheism might be extinguished. And yet secular liberals insist on regular handwringing every time some religious person whines about how the big mean secular liberal society is treating them. This despite the fact that in a well-functioning just liberal society, a religion only goes “extinct” because people freely chose not to belong it, whereas in theocratic societies, atheists routinely face extinction of a more literal sort. (Also, as a resident of the Republic of Ireland, this is exactly the wrong time to try and convince me that Roman Catholicism is compatible with liberalism.)

    Basically, I don’t understand why it is the liberal’s responsibility to prove anything regarding whether democratic persuasion risks the “extinction” of religion. Let me use an analogy. People often ask whether belief in evolution is compatible with belief in God. I tend to think not myself, but that is not relevant for purposes of policymaking. The relevant point is that evolution is true, and people who deny this (Thomas Nagel’s recent book notwithstanding) are choosing to live in a fantasy world. People should believe in basic facts about mathematics, physics, biology, geology, chemistry, and psychology. They should also believe some relevant facts about history, including the history of the Bible. That woman who wants to raise her daughters in accordance with Ephesians 5:22, for example, should know that Ephesians is one of the Deutero-Pauline Epistles, which many biblical scholars believe not to have been authored by Paul at all.

    But saying that evolution is true does not directly say anything about what religious views one must hold; all it does is rule out the ones that are incompatible with evolution. But there are a million forms of religious beliefs one could hypothetically hold that are compatible with evolution. If you think that atheism is the most plausible of these, that’s your right, but that’s not my problem, and I am certainly unwilling to deny the facts of biology so that you can preserve your religious beliefs. It’s up to you to decide what you should believe religiously given the incontrovertible fact of evolution.

    It seems to me that the same logic follows from Corey’s story. (I’m not sure if Corey would accept this, given that he is obviously concerned with the “is religion threatened by democratic persuasion” question, but I think it makes sense.) The democratic state must sometimes tell believers (when it denies Bob Jones University tax exempt status) that their actions are incompatible with democratic values, even if those actions follow logically from their religious beliefs. But this doesn’t say anything about what religious beliefs the religious ought to adopt. This is not, and should not be, the state’s problem. The state says, you should not believe something incompatible with the political equality of people from different races. Why should it take any concern with the specific ways people choose to do this? Isn’t that what liberalism (the free marketplace of ideas and all that) is supposed to be about?

    Now, some religious believers might conclude that the only religious position compatible with these democratic values is a comprehensive secular liberalism, just as some creationists (and Richard Dawkins) might claim that atheism follows straightforwardly from evolution. But so what? Why is this the state’s problem? The only things the state could do, I would think, are 1) stand by aloofly while people do deny democratic values, or 2) encourage people to change their beliefs in some directions and not others (by making, for example, the smallest possible changes to their religious belief systems). The first option is suicide for the liberal democratic state, while the second requires explicitly supporting some comprehensive systems over others. I see nothing attractive about either option.

    I can only think of two reasons to believe that this is the state’s problem. One is that you think that the democratic values really are completely incompatible with anything other than a comprehensive secular liberal philosophy. But that certainly isn’t a logical truth, and so one would have to tell a story as to why one would be compelled to move to the latter once one has been advised to adopt the former. The other is that some religious belief systems might in practice change in response to democratic persuasion as to be almost unrecognizable. But this is only a problem if you believe religious belief systems deserve respect. I think they deserve none. Believers deserve respect, but that’s it. And if a belief system fades away because its adherents adjust their beliefs away from it as a result of democratic persuasion, then I fail to see who has been harmed. (There may be a few stubborn diehards to refuse to adjust their belief systems, but why should they have the right to demand that other adherents not go away? By what right do they get to play keepers of the flame?)

    Now, there is one problem for the analogy with evolution. I would say it is undeniable that evolution is a fact; to deny it (as well as general relativity, quantum physics, etc.) is to deny reality. But the epistemic status of democratic values is less clear. Corey really doesn’t tell us a story about them, and IMHO it’s a real problem for Rawlsians who have gone down the political-not-metaphysical path. It comes back to the story that Rawlsians want to tell for why people should embrace democratic values. This story remains really unclear to me, I must confess. But I would assume that there must be some such story, and that it provides a relatively fixed point–i.e., Ralwsians are not (and should not be) more willing to budge on the freedom and equality of all people than they are on the age of the earth. And if this assumption is granted, then the analogy with evolution holds.

  4. Anna Stilz says:

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for your comments and I’m sorry for my late reply. I’ve been distracted by other things the last few days.

    I think it’s internal to the structure of political liberalism to engage in a certain amount of hand-wringing about religious views. The question is how much hand-wringing we need to do. Some religious views are unreasonable–for example, those that deny toleration or essential democratic rights–so it’s not necessary to engage in any hand-wringing about them. Yet because the very aim of political liberalism is to formulate terms of cooperation that people with a variety of reasonable comprehensive doctrines can accept, the political liberal does need to worry about whether the requirements she is proposing can be acceptable to people with reasonable religious views. This is not because political liberals are unduly deferential to religious belief systems. It’s because the philosophical aims of their own project will not be adequately realized unless their conception of justice is acceptable to a people who hold a variety of comprehensive doctrines, including some religious ones. So the need to think from religious people’s point of view is an internal requirement of political liberalism itself.

    Moreover, nothing in political liberalism, as I understand it, requires thinking that religious belief systems themselves are owed respect. Instead, individual citizens are owed respect, but one of a citizen’s fundamental interests is in formulating and pursuing her own conception of the good, a conception that may (or may not) be religious in nature. We need to make sure that whatever terms of cooperation we impose, they allow sufficient space for the fulfillment of this fundamental interest.

    Corey’s project wants to push beyond Rawls by suggesting that political liberalism can require citizens to revise not just their political beliefs, as they affect voting, others’ legal rights, the use of coercive state power etc., but also their private beliefs, as expressed in the family, civil society, and religious associations. My question is simply this: does this leave sufficient space for citizens’ fulfillment of a conception of the good that may be religious in nature?

    I am open to the possibility that the answer may be: yes it does. If there are still some nonpublic contexts in which citizens can hold and act on views that are derived from religious authorities like their church or their sacred text, rather than on public values, then this may be sufficient accommodation for the interest in religious conceptions of the good. But if there are no contexts in which public values do not apply, then I worry about whether one of our fundamental interests as citizens has been adequately accounted for.

    I want to make two other points in response to your comments. One is about the example of evolution. I doubt that a political liberal could endorse a requirement that democratic citizens believe in evolution, even if it is objectively true. I think that a political liberal *can* require that children be taught evolution in school, because it is a prerequisite of access to knowledge about modern science and to many careers. But if some people want to opt for a religious belief system that rejects evolution, that seems to me perfectly compatible with their fulfillment of the other requirements of democratic citizenship. I don’t see how rejecting evolution entails that one fails to regard one’s fellow-citizens as free and equal.

    Perhaps you just mean to use the example of evolution as an analogy to how the state might require people to revise their beliefs to comport with democratic values, not to say that democratic citizens are morally required to believe in evolution. But if you actually think there is a requirement to believe in evolution, because it is an “incontrovertible fact,” then I think this approach is incompatible with political liberalism. The whole premise of political liberalism is that something’s being objectively true is not a sufficient reason to use the state’s political power on its behalf.

    It may be, as you indicate toward the end of your comments, that you reject political liberalism altogether in favor of a comprehensive ethical liberalism. In that case, you wouldn’t face any worries about using state power to get people to believe incontrovertible facts, and you wouldn’t need to do any hand-wringing about religion. But this approach may face other objections, such as whether it can adequately account for the value of toleration. But since Corey explicitly adopts political liberalism, I take it that this response is not available to him. For him, I think that in order to show the internal aspirations of political liberalism are achieved, he needs to show that a citizen can be religious, and retain and act on some beliefs derived from religious authority, within his more expansive conception of the relevance of public values.

  5. Peter Stone says:

    Hi Anna,

    My remarks re: evolution were intended in the spirit of your second interpretation–it’s an analogy for that attitude the state should take re: democratic values. One of the main problems I see for political liberals, as I indicated, is that it does not make plain why in the world anyone should endorse liberal values. “We’d all get along better if you did” is not a good answer, but at times it looks like it’s the only one on the table. Sure, if we all already accept the idea that all people are free and equal for political purposes, and that this idea should routinely override other values when there are conflicts, then there’s no problem to solve. But political liberals often fail to offer anything but this. I’m suggesting that if political liberals are going to tell a story about why the values of freedom and equality are supposed to form the basis for political organization, they need something analogous to my claim about evolution–it’s something like an incontrovertible fact, not rejectible by any reasonable person (where “reasonable” means something other than “accepts the freedom and equality of all,” a definition which would be perfectly circular).

    Assuming that political liberalism has some such answer to the question “why freedom and equality,” then I think the rest of what I said follows. You should believe in freedom and equality because that’s the reasonable thing to believe. If your religion is compatible with that, then there’s no problem to solve. If it is not, then your religion tells you something unreasonable, and you should change that. Any belief system that tells you “don’t worry about reasonableness” (under a suitable definition) is, I believe, not worthy of further attention. I simply don’t care if unreasonable people have a harder time of it.

    I don’t think that what I say here requires any specific form of comprehensive liberalism; all it requires is the minimum that any plausible form of political form of liberalism must assume to be minimally coherent and plausible. If political liberals don’t have a compelling answer to the question, “why be a political liberal?” then they really are the folks who cannot take their own side in an argument.

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