June 15, 2006

Message to David Brooks: You're stuck with the Donkey and the Elephant

David Brooks can't seem to get over the fact that the Democratic and Republican Parties are here to stay. In his most recent op-ed, Brooks, in still another day-dream editorial, waxes about a realignment between populist nationalism and progressive globalization. He writes, "Politics is becoming less about left versus right and more about open versus closed." Unsurprisingly, his otherworldiness fails to account for changes actually happening in American politics. He doesn't mention the Religious Right, arguably the most influential new political force in the United States in the last 25 years. He mentions those who are anti-immigrant, but he forgets to talk about the immigrants themselves, an exploding population that has already irrevocably changed the face of this country. While he mentions trade as a major issue, he doesn't mention other issues of importance, including gay rights, let alone the two impending crises of how we will finance social security and provide healthcare in the next century.Wendell Wilkie and Franklin Roosevelt agreed in 1944 that after the war, they might try to realign the two parties not along historical and geographic lines as they have always been, but along ideological ones. Both men died before they could try. Political Scientists who disagree on much, from Philip Converse to V.O. Key to Morris Fiorina, do, in fact, agree that Americans have attachments to their political parties that defy rationality and resist realignment. Maybe Brooks should stop in on Jeff Grynaviski's class I took this past quarter and learn a thing or two from this storied scholarship. By starting with a fantasy ("if American politics could start with a clean slate today"), Brooks gives us the editorial equivalent of the "Wouldn't it be cool if...". Moreover, Brooks doesn't make a case why this realignment would be a good thing.Therefore, Brooks doesn't make a normative argument (i.e. why the parties should realign), which would have been a much more interesting and much more persuasive article. Rather, he makes an empirical argument (i.e. the parties will realign) with not only no factual basis, but ignoring the major recent developments cited above. In effect, Brooks refuses to argue why parties should realign and fails to mount a persuasive argument that the parties will in fact realign. As a result, Brooks continues to prove his impotency as a pundit. One would think a UofC alum could be a little more germane.