Millennial Country Music Bodes Ill for Civic Virtue

As John McGinnis explained in his recent series of posts regarding the Constitution’s design for creating civic virtue (here, here, and here), a free society depends on a responsible citizenry, strong families, and thriving civic associations that foster social cohesion.  According to McGinnis, the success of the Republic depends, not necessarily on religion per se, but on the presence of informal discipline (self-control, deferred gratification, thrift, etc.) and a “morality of self-restraint.”

That, of course, leads to the subject of country music (or it does if you live where I do—Austin, Texas, with one of the nation’s most vibrant music scenes, where I moved after I retired as a lawyer). Country music is a diverse genre, but generally groups aspiring to commercial success celebrate the same type of values that McGinnis identifies—small town community, romance and marriage, patriotism, piety, hard work, and similar bourgeois ideals.  Recall Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” (1969) or “The Fightin’ Side of Me” (1970), or the more recent hits by Brooks & Dunn, George Strait, and Garth Brooks. This makes sense because country music is thought to appeal to “Middle America”—rural and/or southern audiences, living in or near the Bible Belt, who are not estranged from our traditional culture.

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