Education

Brooks: GOP loses professionals to Democrats, including bankers

NYTimes commentator David Brooks is not my favorite commentator by a long shot, but I find his occasionally scathing looks at his fellow conservatives to be remarkable. Today commentary (“The Class War Before Palin”) is one of those. Unfortunately, as with many other conservative self-criticisms, the people who need to read it and understand what Brooks is saying are the ones least likely to do so. In short, Brooks takes his fellow Republicans to task for allowing disdain of intellectual liberals to become disdain for all intellectuals and everyone who has the audacity to be educated.

Brooks starts with a brief history of recent developments in the GOP, going from the rejection of liberal intellectualism at universities to the founding of “counterestablishment” conservative think tanks and magazines as a means to counter liberal intellectuals with conservative intellectuals. But then he points out that recent developments have brought Republicans to the point where they’re not longer countering thought with thought, but rather thought with intuition, reason with faith.

The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts.

What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole….

Republicans developed their own leadership style. If Democratic leaders prized deliberation and self-examination, then Republicans would govern from the gut.

And what does Brooks say this has earned the Republicans? The complete loss of both coasts, the majority of educated professionals, and the gradual loss of the working class and the intellectuals.

The Republicans have alienated whole professions. Lawyers now donate to the Democratic Party over the Republican Party at 4-to-1 rates. With doctors, it’s 2-to-1. With tech executives, it’s 5-to-1. With investment bankers, it’s 2-to-1. It took talent for Republicans to lose the banking community.

If Brooks is right – if bankers actually donating more to Democrats than to Republicans – then the GOP has a great deal of work to do before it becomes even remotely viable again.

Supporting honest and effective public education reforms instead of trying to drag everyone else down to their own anti-intellectual level might be a good place to start.

5 replies »

  1. Great post. However, I take a different view of that 2-1 statistic. I’m not sure I want my party to get the support of bankers to that extent. I think this says something about the problems that do exist in the Democratic party (even though it seems strong right now), and why the whole bailout bamboozle had me cheering for idiot House Republicans like some cancelled episode of the Twilight zone. Big Dems are in bed with Wall Street, and we have few bigger problems in this country than what Wall Street hath wrought.

  2. It’s an important point. Buckley the Lesser has now made the same point. But it leads, i think, to an even deeper point. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with being “conservative”; in fact, there are many things that are right. It should also be noted that being “liberal” can also go horribly wrong. Simply: it isn’t what you say but how you say it. Buckley the Greater could have an honest to goodness argument – a debate if you will – that might not change your mind but would, at least, force you to respect his point of view.

    Loyal opposition is probably the philosophical cornerstone of American politics. The first half of that phrase is the important half, but it is the half disregarded. With it has gone honesty: honesty about the other and honesty about the self.

    We are not in the straits we’re in because the Republicans have been in power for eight years. Nor will our straits become significantly less dire by electing the Democrats. Our situation stems from things deeper than the perversions of “liberal” and “conservative” that we vote for.

    The “other” is a tried and true technique of totalitarianism: from untermenschen to wreckers to communists to terrorists (and many more in between). In most cases the Other is projected outward or on an easily persecuted minority. In America the Other is your neighbor with the Other candidate’s yard sign. He probably wants good schools for his children too and he probably prefers to drink clean water as well; he also probably disagrees on how to achieve those goals. But somewhere along the line disagreeing over how became more important than agreeing on the goals. Now he is only worthy of spittle choked vicarious tirades on internet comment threads. (And, more ominously, disturbing outbursts at presidential campaign rallies.)

    Lincoln was right. The only thing capable of destroying America is America. And so our future lies in the hands of Americans…not Republicans, not Democrats, not even Naderites but Americans. It is time to remember that the Other is us.

  3. Good post, and good post Lex. Personally, I love finding conservatives I can agree to disagree with. As a general rule, l prefer the company of sane men to madmen who think they’re sane.

  4. I’m a little disappointed there’s no mention of Truthiness in there. Essentially, that’s where the problem lies, is it not?

  5. Thanks, Steve.

    Once upon a time, Bill Moyers asked Joseph Campbell what the fundamental problem with the Middle East was (or is as it hasn’t been resolved). Campbell replied that both sides had mistaken the metaphor used to explain the underlying truth for the truth itself. I think that the same argument can be made regarding the American political system: we’re all tangled up in metaphors to the point where we can’t even see the truth that the metaphors are supposed to illustrate.

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