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.