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Readers of First Things and of this blog are no doubt familiar with Public Discourse , the online journal published by my employer, the Witherspoon Institute .  Today PD begins a two-week daily series under the title you see above.  As editor Ryan Anderson says, the series looks ahead to the upcoming presidential election:

With a view to the next election, we’ve commissioned ten essays, each covering one of the major policy areas that scores of Public Discourse pieces have examined, to give us a survey of the landscape as we scrutinize the candidates who inhabit it. We also hope these articles will prompt the candidates themselves to think through these issues more thoroughly, as they look to enact good policy and not just curry favor with various factions.

Today the series begins, appropriately, with the first thing of all that should matter to conservatives in this country: the protection of life itself.  O. Carter Snead writes, in ” Protect the Weak and Vulnerable: The Primacy of the Life Issue “:

At bottom, the “life issues”—including especially the conflicts over abortion and embryo-destructive research—involve the deepest and most fundamental public questions for a nation committed to liberty, equality, and justice. That is, the basic question in this context is who counts as a member of the human community entitled to moral concern and the basic protection of the law? Who counts as “one of us”? Equally important is the related question of who decides, and according to what sort of criteria ? These are not narrow concerns commanding only the attention of a small number of highly motivated activists at the fringes of our society. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a public matter that is more important than this “question of membership.”

Two weeks from now is the Palmetto Freedom Forum, on Labor Day in South Carolina, where Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Steve King, and Princeton’s Robert P. George (a Witherspoon Senior Fellow and frequent FT contributor) will query the leading GOP candidates about the most fundamental issues.  These ten essays at Public Discourse will help Robby George shape his questions to the candidates, and afterward he will write a postscript on the forum.  Stay tuned to PD over the next two week to catch the whole series.


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