Kathryn Lopez

'If we keep growing government in debt, we will crowd out the civil society -- those charities, those churches, those institutions in our local communities that do the most to actually have a human touch to help people in need,' Paul Ryan recently said, in defense of his budget. 'That's what we want to empower. That's what we want to improve on.'

In an even larger sense, Manent agrees. 'The deployment of the human virtues,' he said, will take 'a unified action regarding the members for which we feel ourselves responsible. ... If we lose that, we will have nothing left to orient ourselves by but a general idea of humanity, which will be powerless to draw us away from the passivity of private life.'

Making these decisions, these moral priorities, requires what Manent calls 'a serious effort of discernment.' As we enter election season, serious moral discernments should be made before we vote: how we should live, what we should be required to do. Keeping the human person at the center of our civic acts is an important part of keeping our freedom intact. Will we heed the warnings?

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.

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