The slightest glance at political, entertainment, and business headlines demonstrates that the bourgeois virtues of restraint, frugality, reticence, self-control, self-discipline, and fidelity are not only absent in our public life. They are denigrated. Nor is this a mere political phenomenon. The liberation of the sovereign self transcends race and creed, religion and party. It has bloated our waistlines along with our national deficits, tossed families into a spin cycle of disorientation and breakdown, and endangered and addled children. And though a great many families of schooling and wealth have been able to insulate themselves from the gale-force winds of instant gratification and narcissistic self-expression, those in the middle- and lower-ends of our society do not have the luxuries of loving two-parent families, good schools, safe neighborhoods, well-paying jobs, and welcoming churches.

According to Kristol, personal indiscretions and obnoxious behavior, sexual or otherwise, are intimately related to ferment and strife within society and government. Human nature being the crooked thing it is, one would expect some degree of selfishness, greed, and immorality at all times and in all places. And so it has been. What made our civilization different, Kristol argued, was that it not only originated but also granted honor and pride to bourgeois norms and behavior, and so created a specific type of citizen proper to liberal democracy. Distort the norms, change the behavior, and you create a different sort of character befitting a different sort of government. One very unlike the constitutional republic the Founders envisioned.