Before writing off Enlightenment liberalism as a dead end, though, we would do well to remember what came before it. Almost everyone abhors France’s Reign of Terror, during which revolutionary violence may have killed as many as 300,000 people; but the French Revolution’s conservative critics rarely acknowledge the territorial and religious warfare that regularly erupted in Europe during the preceding centuries. Half a century before the fall of the Bastille, about half a million people from seven countries—mostly civilians—lost their lives in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748), which broke out because the ascension of Maria Theresa to the throne of the Habsburg empire (Austria) was disputed and several other monarchs saw their chance for a land grab. A few years later, unresolved disputes from that conflict led to the Seven Years’ War, which killed about 1.3 million.
Kevin Williamson neatly exposes the politically opportunistic hypocrisy of both Democrats and Republicans concerning the nomination and appointment of U.S. Supreme Court justices in presidential-election years. Here’s his conclusion:
It would be easier if we stopped pretending that this fight is about something other than straightforward power politics.