Americans have always wanted it both ways. From the first tentative settlements in the New World, a tension has existed between the pursuit of individual liberty and the quest for Puritan righteousness, between Benjamin Franklin's open road of individualism and Jonathan Edwards' Great Awakening of moral fervor. The temper of the times shifts from one pole to the other, and along with it the role of the state. Government intrudes; government retreats; the state meddles with morality, then washes its hands and withdraws. The Gilded Age gave way to the muscular governmental incursions of the Age of Reform. The Roaring Twenties...
A Meese commission and the Supreme Court echo a new moral militancy
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