People should be allowed to do what they want, subject to the demands of honor.
What does that even mean? It's one of those wonderfully vague statements that people love, because of course whatever they want to do is right and honorable.
Reminds me of Newt Gingrich's list of incredibly vague statements that 90+% of Americans were supposed to agree with... so long as no one tried to figure out what they actually meant.
What does that even mean? ...So here's the concept that occurred to me. A whole lot of digital ink has been spilled lately on men and relationships, and how contemporary men -- especially the youngest generations -- don't take their duties to those relationships seriously enough. Young men don't treat their girlfriends right, they don't want to get married to them and undertake those responsibilities, you hear even middle-aged men talking about the joys of prostitutes and so forth.
I have given a definition of honor (which is linked on the sidebar). It ultimately means that you may do whatever you want, provided you give due consideration to the duties you owe to those to whom you stand in certain relationships. Different relationships have different duties -- you owe more to your father than to a stranger, more to your countrymen than to foreigners, more to friends than to those who have proven to be your enemies (but even something to them -- perfidy is always a violation of honor)....
That's why Zell Miller came down so hard on John Kerry. It wasn't the policy disagreements that provoked such a powerful response. It was Kerry's constant betrayal of people whom he owed duties of honor. Every time he had a duty -- to fellow sailors, soldiers, countrymen -- he would elect self-interest instead.
So all that the Jacksonian is saying is that doing what Kerry does is wrong. You're free to follow your self interest -- subject to the demands of honor.
What if honor is the way men think about relationships? It's far from meaningless: Jackson himself suffered two broken ribs in a duel over an insult to his wife (a man called her a 'bigamist,' because she had married Jackson without realizing her previous husband had not properly filed for divorce when he abandoned her), and its concerns provoked Zell Miller into one of the greatest political speeches of my lifetime.
There are a lot of cultural forces that have reasons to want to destroy honor as a concept at the core of American life. I am not an ally to any of them, but some of you are. There are not a lot of clear exponents of honor to stand against those forces: it's hard to think of any cultural figure since the death of John Wayne who has stood up for it reliably and without exception as something to which men should aspire. As a consequence, the concept has been weakened in our culture over the last generation.
Perhaps it has costs from some perspectives -- a sense of an honor-bound duty to fellow American citizens probably accounts for close to 100% of my disagreements with Tex's libertarian view of economics and politics, so from her perspective those might be costs because they keep me from joining her in advocacy of those positions. If I'm right that honor is the way that men take relationships seriously, though, it strikes me that there are opposing costs even if you are an advocate of one or another of those forces that have an interest in dismissing the concept.