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Words for Democrats and Republicans

Friday, November 06, 2020

David Brooks is one of my favorite columnists. In my opinion, he usually takes a reasonable approach to most issues.
I enjoy his Friday appearances on PBS news, and I usually agree with what he writes in his New York Times column.

In his most recent column, WHAT THE VOTERS ARE TRYING TO TELL US he interprets the results of the election - giving what I would call solid advice to both Republicans and Democrats.

I have reproduced his words below.


"Yup, I wanted a grand rebuke, too. I wanted Trump demolished by 10 points. But elections are educational events. Voters are not always wise, but they are usually comprehensible. They know more about their own lives than we in our information bubbles do, and they almost always tell us something important.

The first thing we heard from most Americans — since Joe Biden’s popular vote victory seems all but certain — is that Donald Trump is unacceptable. We live in a divided, dug-in nation, but millions more white evangelicals voted Democratic in 2020 than in 2016. Many people voted against partisan predilections to remove a man who is a unique menace to the foundations of this country. That is no meager accomplishment.

The second thing voters told us is this: Separate church and state. We’ve long had political polarization in this country and we still will. But over the last few years polarization has transmogrified into something worse: a religious war.

Trumpism and Wokeism are not equivalent phenomena, but they both serve as secular religions for their disciples. They offer a binary logic of good and evil, a cultlike membership experience, apocalyptic or utopian visions, witch trials for the excommunication of the impure and the sense of personal meaning that comes while fighting a holy war.

In different ways, voters told the two parties that they’d like our politics to be about practical issues. If you want a religious war, go have it somewhere else.

They told Republicans, for example, that you will be much stronger without the MAGA craziness. The Republican Party had a much better election than Trump. While Trump is losing, Republicans have picked up six House seats so far. The Democrats have yet to flip a single state legislature, meaning Republicans will draw the district lines for the next 10 years of electioneering.

The image of a possible future G.O.P. emerged — a multiracial working-class party. Republicans made surprising gains among Latinos, African-Americans and Muslims. Trump won the largest share of the nonwhite vote of any Republican candidate in 60 years. That wasn’t done by Trumpian race-baiting but because of the party’s reputation for championing personal agency and personal responsibility, and for boosting small businesses and economic growth. That can be built on.

Meanwhile, voters told Democrats that they, too, would benefit if they played up policy and played down cultural concerns of their Portlandia/graduate-schooled/
defund-the-police wing.

If there was ever going to be a Democratic blowout election, this was it — against an immoral candidate with a criminally incompetent record. But Democrats failed to pull it off.

It’s not policies that cost Democrats. The core Biden policies are astoundingly popular. It’s that they’ve built a cultural blue wall that keeps the other half of the country out, no matter the circumstance.

They’ve done it by telling a certain sort of story. American politics, progressives commonly say, is all about the historical shift from homogeneity to diversity. They see America as divided between those enlightened cosmopolitans (Democrats) who welcome the coming diverse postindustrial world and those knuckle-dragging, racist troglodytes (Republicans) who don’t.

The first problem with this narrative is that it is perpetually surprised by events. Election after election, the emerging Democratic majority fails to emerge. The second problem is that it oversimplifies the different processes going on in America. Somehow, we have to have the racial reckoning, which is essential, while we understand the other mega-narratives people feel are driving their lives. Third, it’s just astonishingly smug, self-congratulatory and off-putting.

The voters have handed us a political system that will be led, probably, by Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell. These are not culture warriors. They are politicians and legislators.

We now have two parties whose best version of themselves is as working-class parties. Maybe the next few years can be a partisan competition over who is best for Americans without college degrees.

Would divided government devolve into gridlock? Maybe. McConnell will do whatever is in the G.O.P.’s best interests in 2022. But I’m not so sure. America is bitterly divided on cultural matters, but it is getting less divided over economic policy. Populism has weakened the G.O.P.’s anti-government wing and opened senators like Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton and others to ideas that call for more federal involvement in industry. For some that includes worker training, for others, an infrastructure bank, wage subsidies or R&D industrial policy.

The voters reminded us yet again that the other side is not going away. We have to dispense with the fantasy that after the next miracle election our side will suddenly get everything it wants. We have to live with one another.

The key is loosening the grip the culture war has had on our politics and governance. Let’s fight our moral difference with books, sermons, movies and marches, not with political coercion."

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Interesting analysis.
    75 days ago
    i do know that i am learning and researching learning more about the voting systems, I love how people are lead like lambs so many of my friends on facebook posting things from false web sites or believing everything trump says , I will admit almost voting for him before he showed his true colors on racism and white supremacy and his nose grew longer than Pinocchio . Why non of his party stood up to him or put in someone else besides him to run is a mystery,
    76 days ago
  • MARTHA324
    It would be wonderful if Joe were able to work with McConnell...after all they were colleagues for years. It will take time and effort to even begin to heal the wounds and damage that has occurred over the years. And as much as Trump has exacerbated it, he is a symptom, not the cause.

    Love David Brooks!
    76 days ago
    Loved the article. I was okay with almost all presidents since my birth other than Nixon, Clinton, and Trump. I actually have always supported agendas on both side but that became difficult when the GOP chose this year to not have a platform. That was a huge mistake in my opinion. I want to know what people stand for whether I like it or not. If people really care about morality, and we all should, then we need to not vote for people who are immoral. That is my problem with the 3 presidents I listed. I don't expect people to be perfect but I do expect them to be moral to the best of their abilities. Both parties have a long way to go before they satisfy me. I'm about fairness and about there being something for everyone - all of us want decent roads so start there and build. Convince me why giving billionaires another billion is to my advantage. Convince me why I should pay for rich people to send their kids to college. I'm listening.
    76 days ago
    Interesting, thanks for writing it out!
    76 days ago
  • FITNIK2020
    Interesting read. I am Canadian and see things from the outside. I will follow and hope for a peaceful transition.
    76 days ago
    I have to remain hopeful... there is a reason for checks and balances!
    76 days ago
  • NANCY-
    This may be a dream... perhaps we can be the United States, instead of the us and them mentality.
    As Michelle Obama said we do have hope.
    76 days ago

    Make today the greatest day of your life
    Until tomorrow!

    Success is achieved and maintained by those who try, and keep trying, for there is nothing to lose by trying and a great deal to gain if successful. By all means TRY! Do it NOW!!!
    W. Clement Stone
    76 days ago
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