This article considers how legal and philosophical ideals relate to contemporary politics. While political commentary is often concerned with descriptive analysis of public affairs, this article pursues normative analysis of emerging trends in public life. The article's underlying theme is that “liberal” states—such as the United States—from time to time become illiberal by departing from the basic legal and philosophical norms of that tradition. Although it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions while in the moment, the tentative conclusion is that we are in the midst of a departure from liberal norms. The article takes a discursive approach—drawing upon Appalachian culture, popular culture, and personal narrative—to highlight the altered trajectory from those norms.

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