The fading debate over Indiana’s RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) has now produced a moment like the first instance in recent times that “You lie!” was shouted during a State of the Union address. This time the protest, or prophecy(!), was provided by a professor of Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Patrick Deneen.

Professor Deneen has brought a flamethrower to the inquest for the RFRA. No hand wringing, just savvy analysis of the forces that caused Indiana’s state government to abandon a defense of religious liberty. It explains a lot.

… today’s cultural power elite is entirely aligned with the economic power elite, and they’re ready to steamroll anyone in their way. In the case of Indiana’s RFRA, corporate and gay activists combined to bring to heel conservative Christians in a rural, Rust Belt state that struggles at the margins of America’s global economy. The threat to demolish Indiana’s economy is only a more explicit expression of a project that corporations like Apple and Walmart have been carrying out with the assistance mainly of Republicans (as well as free-trade Democrats) for a generation.
To see the glee with which liberals joined forces with corporations revealed the deepest fact about the American ruling class: politicians and corporations will join forces to effect the change preferred by corporations, change that too often damages the working class and benefits society’s elites.

I had been puzzled by the lack of interest shown by politicians of both political parties in the last few years for concerns of the average American. I had become reconciled to the fact that invested capital has been leaving the US for better returns in the big booming world beyond our borders. And I realize that the affections of politicians as well as corporate chiefs will likely gravitate toward the most abundant source of loot. But that doesn’t excuse the seeming delight with which CEOs now trash the nation and people who nurtured them and their companies.

These turncoat CEOs have had their first warning, courtesy of Patrick Deneen. I salute it, and call on corporate leaders and politicians to come to their senses.

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