The St. Francisville Manifesto

In 2016, the American people got a choice between two candidates for President of the United States who each had 70 percent negative ratings. This is a site for people in the forty percent or so of the electorate who had to hold their nose to vote for either one, or, who could not bring themselves to vote for either one. We will begin with a small number of contributors, who met at the most diverse on line site for civil conversation, Rod Dreher’s blog at The American Conservative. This is not endorsed by either Dreher, or TAC. It was just a great place to meet.We have, somewhat tongue in cheek, named our work for Rod Dreher’s home town. We hope the home folks don’t mind.

Among those who will, or are invited, to participate, are a couple of hard-line socialists, a proud Trump voter who doesn’t really expect much from him, a long-time member of a traditional Anabaptist church who dissents from the church’s recent acceptance of homosexuality, an avowed pagan who firmly supports same-sex marriage, and a couple of capital-O Orthodox Christians. The idea is, anything we can all agree on, is probably a solid program for America’s future. What we cannot agree on, is perhaps a bit peripheral to the body politic, although, there is plenty of room in the public square to continue debating, and perhaps in time winning over our fellow citizens.

This is, perhaps more than anything, a call for renewed diversity in American life. By diversity, we mean that there are few, if any, one size fits all standards that apply homogeneously to each and every aspect of life. Some matters are legitimately within the jurisdiction of government. Others are not. Some are reserved to the individual choice of individual persons. We also have freedom of association, which means that two or more people can agree to associate on whatever basis suits them, and it doesn’t have to look like any other free association of anyone else. To give two extreme examples, nothing is so well suited to government regulation as commerce, and nothing is so ill-suited to conformity as the free exercise of religion.

Our hope is that from these discussions we will develop a platform of priorities, programs, and values that can be offered to anyone aspiring to political office, regardless of party, as a touchstone of what might actually earn substantial voter support. We will initially keep to a small circle of authorized contributors, but hope to open up to a wider audience of comments once we have a product worth commenting on.