David Brooks is afraid of what Republicans are turning into... and that's saying something

The future described in this Atlantic article by David Brooks will make you queasy. It did him.

Rachel Bovard is one of the thousands of smart young Americans who flock to Washington each year to make a difference. She’s worked in the House and Senate for Republicans Rand Paul, Pat Toomey, and Mike Lee, was listed among the “Most Influential Women in Washington Under 35” by National Journal , did a stint at the Heritage Foundation, and is now policy director of the Conservative Partnership Institute, whose mission is to train, equip, and unify the conservative movement. She’s bright, cheerful, and funny, and has a side hustle as a sommelier. And, like most young people, she has absorbed the dominant ideas of her peer group.

One of the ideas she’s absorbed is that the conservatives who came before her were insufferably naive. They thought liberals and conservatives both want what’s best for America, disagreeing only on how to get there. But that’s not true, she believes. “Woke elites—increasingly the mainstream left of this country—do not want what we want,” she told the National Conservatism Conference, which was held earlier this month in a bland hotel alongside theme parks in Orlando. “What they want is to destroy us,” she said. “Not only will they use every power at their disposal to achieve their goal,” but they’ve already been doing it for years “by dominating every cultural, intellectual, and political institution.”

My bold.

Damn, I’m old. I kind of thought that way, too. These young people are incredibly cynical.

As she says this, the dozens of young people in her breakout session begin to vibrate in their seats. Ripples of head nodding are visible from where I sit in the back. These are the rising talents of the right—the Heritage Foundation junior staff, the Ivy League grads, the intellectual Catholics and the Orthodox Jews who have been studying Hobbes and de Tocqueville at the various young conservative fellowship programs that stretch along Acela-land.

Bovard has the place rocking, training her sights on the true enemies, the left-wing elite: a “totalitarian cult of billionaires and bureaucrats, of privilege perpetuated by bullying, empowered by the most sophisticated surveillance and communications technologies in history, and limited only by the scruples of people who arrest rape victims’ fathers, declare math to be white supremacist, finance ethnic cleansing in western China, and who partied, a mile high, on Jeffrey Epstein’s Lolita Express.”

The atmosphere is electric. She’s giving the best synopsis of national conservatism I’ve heard at the conference we’re attending—and with flair! Progressives pretend to be the oppressed ones, she tells the crowd, “but in reality, it’s just an old boys’ club, another frat house for entitled rich kids contrived to perpetuate their unearned privilege. It’s Skull and Bones for gender-studies majors!” She finishes to a rousing ovation. People leap to their feet.

I have the sinking sensation that the thunderous sound I’m hearing is the future of the Republican Party.

The movement has three distinctive strains. First, the people over 50 who have been hanging around conservative circles for decades but who have recently been radicalized by the current left.

The second strain is made up of mid-career politicians and operatives who are learning to adapt to the age of populist rage: people like Ted Cruz (Princeton, Harvard), J. D. Vance (Yale Law), and Josh Hawley (Stanford and Yale).

The third and largest strain is the young. They grew up in the era of Facebook and MSNBC and identity politics. They went to colleges smothered by progressive sermonizing. And they reacted by running in the other direction.

Okay, I’m probably quoting too much (even though this is a teeny portion of his reeeeally long article). I used the “share” option, so this may not be paywalled. I usually enjoy seeing David Brooks squirm, but the picture he paints is nauseating.

Do not want :frowning:

(Sorry I don’t have something better to comment. This whole article had me rolling my eyes and gagging so hard that my head is now turned inside-out.)

I hear ya. :nauseated_face:

Why are people turning into such irrational creatures, and why is the Republican party sucking up to them?

Ok, I get the reasons for the latter. But why the former? Tribalism run amuck? Revenge of the old white men? Pure D selfishness? Memes?

I dunno, but the modern pubbies are scary.

It may be as simple as – or, at least, one significant factor is:

“We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” --Republican Senator Lindsey Graham

They aren’t able to grow this base demographic, so they lean on frightening, angering, and animating as many of them as is humanly possible.

It’s a relative turnout game vs. an absolute numbers growth game.


Fear that the world is passing them by. Fear that they’re being made economically irrelevant. Fear that their kids are adopting values that are alien to them. Fear that if “those people” ever get the upper hand, they’ll take their revenge on those who oppressed them – because it’s what they would do in their place.

When has David Brooks ever apologized for his part in demonizing the left for years before finding that people he considers his inferiors were taking his beliefs to their logical conclusions?

Living in the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh (and most AM talk radio) bubble for decades will do this.

“I’m sorry I support the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party, because I never thought that the Leopards would start eating MY face.”

David Brooks is about a dozen, maybe more, years too late in talking about what anyone could see happening. In the article that I’m not going to read does he proclaim that he is so shocked I say that he will not support the party? That question may as well be rhetorical.

David Brooks still manages to blame progressives for what Republicans have become. Fuck him. He helped bring them to this point. And now he pretends to be horrified at what progressive have forced conservatives to become. I’m the one vibrating with rage at this mush-braised, two-faced, equivocating hack.

Well, Brooks and an increasing number of pro-liberty non-nutty pundits across the spectrum, have recognized the tyrannical, illiberal nature of the progressive left. The surprise is that there is any market left for a faction of sanctimonious, censorious scolds.

I would say it’s astonishing that that’s what you get from his article, but I’d be lying.

For example:

Brooks is repudiating exactly the sort of “woke mob” apocalyptic nonsense that octopus promulgates.

Yep. Octopus is simply trying the same old shtick of “See! I TOLD you black was white!”

Based off of what I’ve seen of some young Hispanics here in central-southern Texas, they may not need angry white guys alone. You’d be surprised how many Hispanics are totally buying into Trumpism and this new Right. Absolutely all-in.

I’m reading what the OP quoted:

Two of these strains are defined by Brooks as being the fault of progressives.

Maybe the quote in the OP cut some critical context?

That’s not the only article David Brooks has written on the subject of woke. He is far from a fan of it going by his articles in the NY Times. The tone of the piece is not that a small faction of the right is beginning to embrace illiberal populism. It’s that illiberal populism is becoming more appealing across the spectrum. With that, he sounds a bit like Steve Bannon but with a little less conspiracy theoryness.

Ultimately, though, the illiberal portion of the right that he mentioned at the conference is a reaction to the illiberal left. The idea is that if the state and other extraordinarily powerful institutions are infiltrated and captured by one’s ideological foes it makes no sense to not fight on that dimension of the battlefield. Therefore, if the power of the state isn’t going to be used neutrally than the right, as a reaction, ought to fight for and if possible exploit the power of the state.

i.e. “Why did you make me hit you, bitch?”

I think a lot of it is that people’s lives haven’t recovered since the financial crash and there’s both general resentment as well as zero-sum scarcity politics to tap into.