Monday, October 21, 2013
I've blogged before about the fact that one of my favorite books in recent years is Daniel Okrent's Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (here). Prohibition, as a policy and constitutional experiment, was a huge failure, but not simply because (as Anthony Esolen explains, here, at Public Discourse) it failed to reduce alcohol consumption or because "you can't legislate morality." It did, and we "legislate morality" all the time. Prohibition's lessons are, in turns out -- in Okrent's book and in Esolen's essay -- more interesting. Here's a bit from the latter:
So, then, what does Prohibition teach us?
That amendment inserted into the Constitution a law that neither protected fundamental rights nor adjusted the mechanics of governance. It was a radical break from tradition. It is crucial to understand this. It took a juridical break from tradition to obliterate the customs, the lived traditions, of the American people and their forebears. . . .