NEWS

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June 16, 2006

Re: Brooks and changing political parties

Now Hammond has some issues with what I had to say about Brooks' column. He contends that Brooks misses the boat on many of the nation’s most important issues. Now there are two things that Hammond complains about: the issues Brooks really does talk about (although not explicitly) and the issues used by either party to maintain the status quo (culture war issues like abortion and gay marriage). First, the ones Brooks does talk about: Hammond mentions how Brooks doesn't acknowledge huge issues like immigration, Social Security, or the Religious Right, except if you actually read the column, Brooks does mention these issues. On immigration, Brooks explains how progressive globalists would be for the gentle to our system of immigration, while populist nationalists would be keen on closing off the borders. On Social Security, Brooks explains how progressive globalists would be for reforming, "entitlements so the economy can remain flexible and not buried by debt," as opposed to the populist nationalists who would want to stave off, "efforts to take away...Social Security and Medicare...instead of widening inequality and a race to the bottom." Finally, on religion, it is pretty clear where the religious right would end up. They are a natural fit for the populist nationalists with whom they could get both the stagnant culture they crave and the programs to help the humble and the meek (a combo the Republican party can't provide right now). Second, the issues Brooks doesn't really talk about: the culture war issues. More than anything, these issues are the reason for our present political setup. Abortion and gay marriage are political issues that are going nowhere, yet they end up defining so many people’s votes. Does that mean they will continue to do so? I don't know for sure, but I'm sure that if anything can break the culture wars political mold it is the economic pressure globalization is bound to create. On top of that, you have economic issues like Social Security, immigration, etc. that neither party has a coherent stance on. Soon parties are going to have to formulate opinions on these issues, I wouldn't be surprised to see a Brooksian shift at that time.Do I think parties will completely realign? Probably not anytime soon. But unlike Hammond, I'm willing to concede that it has happened in the past and probably will happen in the future (and I don't have to take a class on this subject to know that). Give Brooks his due; he has a strong argument here.