David Brooks exemplifies what moderate conservatism should be like in America: a faintly traditional, gentle form of condescending assholishness that while irritating, isn’t particularly offensive or dangerous.
While Brooks represents what every other industrialized democracy would regard as conservatism, the current incarnation of the Republican Party is filled with cartoon like crackpots who would be consigned to psychiatric institutions if it weren’t for Fox News legitimizing their behavior. If allowed anywhere near government, these crackpots would likely bring down the US economy in a matter of months — a lesson we learned first hand during the George W. Bush years. Fast forward to 2016 and we are in a totally new era of crackpot lunacy. Gone are the tame days of Sarah Palin and her folksy Hockey Mom schtick — we are now in the Donald Trump/Ted Cruz era of political nihilism where problems are not to be considered, rather smashed with a hammer, and piggish behavior an acceptable norm rather than an aberration.
This apparently is what being a “good Christian man” is all about these days: hatred of other, and meanness towards the vulnerable.
David Brook is an intelligent man, and he understands exactly what is happening to the Republican Party. It is being torn apart from the inside out, and the intellectual basis of conservatism in America tossed aside like a rotting piece of fruit. In his latest column in the NY Times, Brooks goes after Ted Cruz for what he sees as being the antithesis of everything true American conservatism should be:
The best conservatism balances support for free markets with a Judeo-Christian spirit of charity, compassion and solidarity. Cruz replaces this spirit with Spartan belligerence. He sows bitterness, influences his followers to lose all sense of proportion and teaches them to answer hate with hate. This Trump-Cruz conservatism looks more like tribal, blood and soil European conservatism than the pluralistic American kind.
Evangelicals and other conservatives have had their best influence on American politics when they have proceeded in a spirit of personalism — when they have answered hostility with service and emphasized the infinite dignity of each person. They have won elections as happy and hopeful warriors. Ted Cruz’s brutal, fear-driven, apocalypse-based approach is the antithesis of that.
Brooks’s column will be shared widely in liberal circles because it will resonate intellectually and reinforce long held beliefs about the lunacy of Republicans like Ted Cruz. But his painfully accurate analysis will fall on deaf ears where it is most needed. Why? Because Intellectualism and Republicanism are now completely incompatible, and calling out the likes of Ted Cruz or other idiotic Republicans in a thoughtful, rational way will actually make them stronger.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.