A must-read analysis of the current election by George Weigel.
“You likely think, gentle reader, that the 2012 presidential race is a contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. That, of course, is true, insofar as the names on our Nov. 6 ballots go. But the 2012 race for the White House is something more, something more profound—something with deeper historical roots in modernity’s wrestling with political power and how that power contributes to the common good.
“This is a contest, to take symbolic reference points, between Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and Edmund Burke (1729-1797).
“Both were British subjects. Both had a profound impact on modern political theory. Both knew that religion and politics—Church and state—had been thickly interwoven into the history of the West, although here the deep differences between these two paradigmatic figures begin to sharpen: Hobbes tried to drive religious conviction out of the modern public square, while Burke fashioned a vision of political modernity that drew in part on the rich social pluralism of the Catholic Middle Ages.
“In a Hobbesian world, the only actors of consequence are the state and the individual. In a Burkean world, the institutions of civil society—family, religious congregation, voluntary association, business, trade union and so forth—”mediate” between the individual and the state, and the just state takes care to provide an appropriate legal framework in which those civil-society institutions can flourish.”