Over the weekend David Brooks assembled sounds into phonemes that after hours of cogitation settled into sentence structures. Let’s look at them together:
The women’s marches were a phenomenal success and an important cultural moment. Most everybody came back uplifted and empowered. Many said they felt hopeful for the first time since Election Day. But these marches can never be an effective opposition to Donald Trump.
Virginia, there is no Santa Clause. I thought you should know.”
In the first place, this movement focuses on the wrong issues. Of course, many marchers came with broad anti-Trump agendas, but they were marching under the conventional structure in which the central issues were clear. As The Washington Post reported, they were “reproductive rights, equal pay, affordable health care, action on climate change.”
These are all important matters, and they tend to be voting issues for many upper-middle-class voters in university towns and coastal cities. But this is 2017. Ethnic populism is rising around the world. The crucial problems today concern the way technology and globalization are decimating jobs and tearing the social fabric; the way migration is redefining nation-states; the way the post-World War II order is increasingly being rejected as a means to keep the peace.
So people in Kenosha don’t worry about reproductive rights, equal pay, and health care – they’re so special that, unlike confirmed East Coaster David Brooks, they worry about other things that sound liek the first series of things that East Coast people worry about.
Sometimes social change happens through grass-roots movements — the civil rights movement. But most of the time change happens through political parties: The New Deal, the Great Society, the Reagan Revolution. Change happens when people run for office, amass coalitions of interest groups, engage in the messy practice of politics.
Without the discipline of party politics, social movements devolve into mere feeling, especially in our age of expressive individualism.
Here is the central tenet of High Brookism: the elites he purports to dismiss are the only ones smart and connected enough to lead the rabble. Don’t kid yourselves: the “Reagan Revolution” made the list because he knows as well as I do that the Heritage Foundation and other think tanks coordinated those spontaneous Tea Party rallies in 2009 and 2010.
Instead, the marches offered the pink hats, an anti-Trump movement built, oddly, around Planned Parenthood, and lots of signs with the word “pussy” in them. The definition of America is up for grabs. Our fundamental institutions have been exposed as shockingly hollow. But the marches couldn’t escape the language and tropes of identity politics.
David, don’t lie. It’s “pussy” that offended you.
Soon after the Trump victory, Prof. Mark Lilla of Columbia wrote a piece on how identity politics was dooming progressive chances. Times readers loved that piece and it vaulted to the top of the most-read charts.
THe Chainsmokers’ “Closer” was #1 most of fall 2016.
Sure enough, if you live in blue America, the marches carpeted your Facebook feed. But The Times’s Julie Bosman was in Niles, Mich., where many women had never heard of the marches, and if they had, I suspect, they would not have felt at home at one.
Guess he missed news about rallies in Boise, deep blue Wichita, elite Jonesborough, Tennessee, and identity politics-riven Anchorage.
I loathed Trump’s inaugural: It offered a zero-sum, ethnically pure, backward-looking brutalistic nationalism. But it was a coherent vision, and he is rallying a true and fervent love of our home.
“Despite my inability to speak English, I hope Trump invites me to the White House once in a while like the last president did.”
If the anti-Trump forces are to have a chance, they have to offer a better nationalism, with diversity cohering around a central mission, building a nation that balances the dynamism of capitalism with biblical morality.
The march didn’t come close. Hint: The musical “Hamilton” is a lot closer.
Hep cat David Brooks goes to the theater, in case you assume he’s one of those mouth-breathing red staters who are all straight and love a cool glass of neurotoxin-laden water.
Bartender! I’ll have what he’s having. Make it a double.