David Brooks on the Dems

June 28, 2019 • 2:30 pm

Read this op-ed by David Brooks in today’s New York Times (click on screenshot) and see if you disagree with it. His fear, which is also is mine, is that the Dems, by moving ever further left in an effort to out-woke each other, will improve the prospects of Trump:

An excerpt (Brooks is a centrist):

According to a recent Gallup poll, 35 percent of Americans call themselves conservative, 35 percent call themselves moderate and 26 percent call themselves liberal. The candidates at the debates this week fall mostly within the 26 percent. The party seems to think it can win without any of the 35 percent of us in the moderate camp, the ones who actually delivered the 2018 midterm win. . .

The party is moving toward all sorts of positions that drive away moderates and make it more likely the nominee will be unelectable. And it’s doing it without too much dissent.

First, there is health care. When Warren and Kamala Harris raised their hands and said that they would eliminate employer-based health insurance, they made the most important gesture of the campaign so far. Over 70 percent of Americans with insurance through their employers are satisfied with their health plan. Warren, Harris and Sanders would take that away.

According to a Hill-HarrisX survey, only 13 percent of Americans say they would prefer a health insurance system with no private plans. Warren and Sanders pin themselves, and perhaps the Democratic Party, to a 13 percent policy idea. Trump is smiling.

Second, there is the economy. All of the Democrats seem to have decided to run a Trump-style American carnage campaign. The economy is completely broken. It only benefits a tiny sliver. Yet in a CNN poll, 71 percent of Americans say that the economy is very or somewhat good. We’re in the longest recovery in American history and the benefits are finally beginning to flow to those who need them most. Overall wages are rising by 3.5 percent, and wages for those in the lowest pay quartile are rising by well over 4 percent, the highest of all groups.

Democrats have caught the catastrophizing virus that inflicts the Trumpian right. They take a good point — that capitalism needs to be reformed to reduce inequality — and they radicalize it so one gets the impression they want to undermine capitalism altogether.

Third, Democrats are wandering into dangerous territory on immigration. They properly trumpet the glories immigrants bring to this country. But the candidates can’t let anybody get to the left of them on this issue. So now you’ve got a lot of candidates who sound operationally open borders. Progressive parties all over the world are getting decimated because they have fallen into this pattern.

Fourth, Democrats are trying to start a populist v. populist campaign against Trump, which is a fight they cannot win. Democratic populists talk as if the only elite in America is big business, big pharma — the top 1 percent. This allows them to sound populist without actually going after their donor bases — the highly educated affluent people along the coasts.

. . .The debates illustrate the dilemma for moderate Democrats. If they take on progressives they get squashed by the passionate intensity of the left. If they don’t, the party moves so far left that it can’t win in the fall.

Right now we’ve got two parties trying to make moderates homeless.

There’s more; read the whole piece. And then weigh in.

I, of course, will vote for any Democrat over Trump; I haven’t seen one who wouldn’t get my vote in such a contest. But I also want Trump gone for good in the next election.

168 thoughts on “David Brooks on the Dems

  1. It is simply not possible to vote for Trump and call yourself a moderate. What you can do, though, if find the Democratic nominee to be too liberal, is stay home.

    There is no use in trying to win over Trump voters. What will be useful is to try to get out the vote when the election comes up, and convince enough “moderates” that a sensible president, however liberal, is better than the current president.

      1. “Dems please don’t drive me away!!??”

        Drive you away to what? To Traitor Trumpski (Putin’s little bitch), and Trump’s partners in crime the Republicans?!!!!


        Brooks is, and always has been, a conservative. Yes, I know his profile on Wikipedia says he’s a “centrist”. I’ve read his columns for years. He is, was?, a Republican. He didn’t think Trump would get the nomination in his Republican Party and he was WAY off on that score.


        Trump is not the essence of the Republican Party. He is the result and malignant outgrowth of 40 or 50 years of Republican politics.

        To hell with Brooks.

        1. Seconded.

          You know what I don’t need? It’s David Brooks and all his cowardly fellow travelers telling me what kind of a Democrat they need me to be.

          David Brooks and his cowardly fellow travelers couldn’t and didn’t do a damn thing when a malignant narcissist became the face of Republican politics.

          Rather than advising Democrats about the way Democrats ought to be Democrats, maybe they could do something about the dumpster fire their own party has become, starting with president pussygrabber and Mitch McConnell.

    1. > It is simply not possible to vote for Trump and call yourself a moderate.

      Hi, I voted for Obama twice, and then Trump. I’m not alone.

      > There is no use in trying to win over Trump voters.

      And that is why you will lose. When you write-off a large section of the country, you will not get elected. I refused to vote for Romney when he wrote off 47% of the country as parasites. I refused to vote for Clinton when she wrote off everyone who didn’t support her as irredeemably deplorable.

      The moment you write off a section of the country, you will lose, and you deserve it. I will only vote for someone who wants to be the president for all the citizens of this country.

      Trump may be a crass, narcissistic, blowhard, but he’s our crass, narcissistic, blowhard. And his policies seem to actually be working. The economy is doing excellently, there’s be greater movement toward peace in Korea than we’ve seen in over 50 years, and as belligerent as his pronouncements are, he seems actually be genuinely anti-war. That’s something Obama couldn’t even manage.

      1. You are wildly mischaracterizing the quote by Hillary. I agree she shouldn’t have said that for her own chances, but by did no means did she call all who did not support her “deplorable”. Also, some things are going fine with Trump, but the GOP’s approach to climate change is borderline criminal negligence.

              1. No, she also called them uneducated, racist, redneck hicks. And alienating those very people whose vote you need isn’t a winning strategy in any sense of the word. But she did it. And rightfully lost the election.

              2. You pedantically accuse me of making stuff up, when any reasonable person would recognize I was using shorthand descriptive language.

              3. “She described half as monsters, the other half as fools.”

                That’s not ‘shorthand, descriptive language’ that’s making stuff up. Either way I’m not going down this rabbit-hole with you.

              4. Matt, you just posted an article that reports what Hillary said. You should read it. She said half were deplorable and the other half “feel that the government has let them down [and are] desperate for change”.

                She didn’t call them fools. Please stop making up stuff about what she said.

                It was a badly judged comment because it was guaranteed to be distorted by her enemies but she was saying exactly the opposite to “the other half are fools”.

              5. I know very well what her specific words were, and in my opinion she *effectively* told every person who was considering voting for trump that they were either monsters or fools for doing so.

              6. Your opinion is wrong in this instance. She specifically said that half of Trump supporters could be persuaded to vote for the non foolish option.

              7. I’m quite amazed how so many of you are doggedly defending HRC’s comments. I’ve done a lot of marketing & promotion copy writing and worked on campaign strategy. What she said & how she phrased it was guaranteed to offend. For one, it was the equivalent of talking about someone in the third person in front of them. I could go on, but the net result was she lost, and to this day ‘deplorables’ is a defiant, self-applied moniker widely used by conservatives.

              8. I certainly agree she shouldn’t have said it, but that’s mainly because of the way people extrapolated half to all – a mistake you are perpetuating. Tell us she made a mistake as much as you like and we are on the same side, but don’t use falsehoods to argue the point. I’m not on your side there.

              9. I find the Republican use of Hillary’s “deplorables” comment a curious kind of snowflakism.

                Oh, the horror of calling a lot of deplorable characters “deplorable”!

              10. Oh, the horror of calling a lot of deplorable characters “deplorable”!

                What purpose did it serve, for a presidential candidate to declare 30 million Americans “irredeemable”?

              11. Matt… it is the endless reveling in the “insult” that strikes me as noteworthy.

                Here we are in the middle of endless actual deplorable behavior by the champion of these voters, and you wallow in this “insult”.

                It is a horrible thing to call a spade a spade. /sarcasm

          1. The transcript: she said about half of Trump supporters are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic.” ” About half” may have been off the cuff as she indicated, but this seems like a reasonable characterization of about half of his core, or say 15% of Americans. While not politically smart, I think it was accurate, especially in hindsight. I don’t know why this should have cost her the presidency, especially compared to the hundreds of more outrageous and false things Trumnp said, and says every day. And I doubt this remark was the difference.

            1. Such precious snowflakes. I thought they were all for ‘saying it like it is’?

              Personally I find it hard to take any person morally seriously if they vote for Trump, no matter how many self-pitying justifications about being called mean things they throw in. So I’d have used the word ‘morally compromised’ rather than ‘deplorable’…but I’d have said it of all of them rather than just half.

              I’d also note that Trump talks about “the Dems” being insane, extremists, lunatics, infanticidal, etc. and makes absolutely no attempt to distinguish between Democratic politicans on the one hand and Democratic voters on the other. He talks about liberals in vastly less reasonable terms than Hillary spoke about the ghastly contingent in his support.

              The hypocrisy of the Trump apologists in this thread is fascinating.

              1. You have either forgotten (or never known in the first place) the one rule that rules them all:

                It’s okay if you’re Republican.

          2. The transcript says she said “about half are …racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic.” Half of Trunmp’s core supporters is about 15% of Americans. Her comments is right on the nose, then. Maybe not politically smart, but why it’s remotely as “deliberately insulting and patronizing” as any of hundreds of Trump’s daily comments, and should have cost her the election, is beyond me. (And I doubt it did.)

        1. At least in the quote I am familiar with HRC characterized half of Trump supporters as Irredeemably deplorable.
          So 30 million or so Americans are irredeemable.

          What does one do when one is very powerful, and feels that a large number of people under their authority are bad people and cannot ever be redeemed? History has many examples to answer that question.

          I am not a Trump supporter, but most of my family is, and almost everyone in my community. I would not want to see half of those people receive whatever treatment HRC has in store for them.

          1. I’m not defending what Hillary said, but there’s an enormous gulf of numbers between half of Trump’s supporters and those who did not support Hillary. Also, I may be misunderstanding you, but it seems a bit ridiculous to suggest Hillary would’ve intentionally made spiteful policies towards those she considered deplorable.

            1. I suspect HRC is primarily motivated by a quest for power, which would make her in no way unique among those seeking high office.

              However, if she were elected, many of the people who actually support her stated positions would move closer to the seat of power. Some of those people are scary. We have seen too many examples of the “woke” having an enraged meltdown and accusing everyone they disagree with of being a fascist. Those folks would happily send my family to the camps, if they had the power to do so.

              Although I have little or no fear that my voting choices are likely to lead to my personally being oppressed or subject to a pogrom, I cannot assume that my children or grandchildren will be safe from such things. The easiest way to prevent that happening is to vote against those who openly state that some percentage of their opponents are irredeemable, as well as anyone dedicated to the promotion of socialism (We kulaks are permanent class enemies of the Marxist proletariat.)

              I have great faith in the resilience of the US. I don’t so much fear that anyone is going to institute such policies here. What I actually fear is the inevitable disruptions that would occur should they try such a thing, even though I am confident that they would be mightily rebuffed.

              1. Wow – the paranoia in this comment is extensive. There are Americans who actually fear a Dem would act this way? And think Trump is in any way more reasonable? And HRC is far from the “woke” extremists you describe, which are a small minority of the Dem party. The extent of the irrationality around her candidacy is hard to fathom.

              2. And don’t forget that Trump has actually “sent people to camps”; and is threatening to do so. His treatment of illegal immigrants is just what is being discussed here.

              3. It’s not paranoia: the regressive left is undemocratic and openly advocates for the restriction of civil liberties.

              4. You really think anyone who’s ever been within a hectare of Hillary Clinton is scarier or more dangerous than West Wing advisers Stephen Miller or John Bolton or Steve Bannon or the other freaks (like outside advisers Jerry Falwell, Jr., or Franklin Graham) that Donald Trump has (or has had) growling advice directly into his ear?

              5. the paranoia in this comment is extensive”

                Trump frequently chooses his words poorly. He is sort of a stream of consciousness sort of person. HRC is not. When she uses the word “irredeemable”, I have to assume she knows what the word means, and uses it deliberately.

                I have mentioned before that a big part of my academic career involved interviewing people who had witnessed, been victims of, or perpetrated some of the worst horrors of the 20th century. Although the specific goal of those interviews was research into technologies developed in response to war shortages, A big lesson I came back with is that-
                Nobody ever thinks it will “happen here”, until it does.
                Also, the people who caused it to happen will afterwards usually claim to have been part of the resistance.

              6. @Max

                Speaking of “it can’t happen here,” have you never noticed the similarities between Donald Trump and “Buzz” Windrip, the demagogic president in Sinclair Lewis’s novel of that name?

                Hillary Clinton said that half of Trump voters came from “a basket of deplorables”; she never used the term “irredeemable” in that statement (nor anywhere else to my knowledge).

                As unwise as that statement may have been politically, she was suggesting merely that such people were beyond the reach of ordinary political discourse, not that they should be denied any rights as American citizens.

      2. Funny you say that, considering that Trump has “written off” more than half the population (anybody who’s educated, non-christian, non-white, non-rural, etc). He is pandering entirely to his base of rubes at this point.

        Hillary said that “half” (not “all”) of Trump’s supporters were “deplorable”, and she was being far too kind to them – they’re despicable, not deplorable.

      3. I don’t like Trump regardless of his policies and won’t vote for him. In addition, I post using my real name.

      4. I refused to vote for Clinton when she wrote off everyone who didn’t support her as irredeemably deplorable.

        That’s NOT what she said; what she said was that “you could put about half of Trump supporters into what I call ‘the basket of deplorables'” (emphasis added). She said the other half of Trump supporters understandably felt them abandoned by their government.

        I’ve never been a Hillary fan (I opposed her during the 2016 primaries, though I would vote for her every day of the week over Donald Trump), and it was certainly impolitic for a presidential candidate to say so, but about half of Trump supporters are deplorable (though we might haggle over the precise percentages) — the white-nationalist xenophobes Trump brought with him from the Birther movement, the ones who would stick with Trump even if he shot someone in cold blood on Fifth Avenue, the ones who thrill to immigrant children being locked in cages, the ones who would still happily tell you Barack Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim.

        There is no point in trying to reach such people through rational discourse; they must be outvoted at the ballot box.

        1. Exactly. At the height of Watergate, 25% of Americans still supported Richard Nixon. There have always been a large amount of “deplorables” who would be perfectly happy with the degradation of the United States as long as it was committed by their side. I doubt that Clinton’s claim did more damage to her campaign than the widespread assumption that she would win, which helped depress the vote and encouraged the media and Comey to play up “scandals” that pale next those of the Trump administration.

        2. Ken – agreed. Her deplorables comment was reasonable, and in hindsight, accurate. It’s amazing and disheartening that it was held against her by any moderates.

      5. Studies have shown that the number one predictor of a Trump voter was someone with racist views. https://psmag.com/news/new-study-confirms-again-that-race-not-economics-drove-former-democrats-to-trump That’s not to say all Trump supporters were racist, but it does say that — surprise! — his supporters included an enormous number of deplorables. Sorry, that’s just a fact.

        As for his policies working, while the stock market has done well very recently (after a zero gain for all of 2018), recall that the stock market nearly tripled from its low in March of 2009 to the end of Obama’s term. Thus, giving Trump credit for the economy is like giving the busboy credit for a great meal. And guess what, if you implement a huge tax cut that we can’t afford and undo every environmental and safety regulation, the stock market will go up. The most that can be said is that Trump hasn’t managed to derail the Obama boom — yet.

        And lastly, if you believe Trump has made strides toward peace in Korea, then I guess Trump isn’t the only one being duped.

        Regardless of any political considerations whatsoever, the guy is a xenophobic, misogynistic, ignorant, treasonous, pathological liar, and a national embarrassment.

        1. I find it shocking that the Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at a major US university has concluded that conservatives are evil.

          Perhaps her forthcoming article on “Critical Feminist Pedagogy” will clarify her political views a bit.

      6. And his policies seem to actually be working.

        Unfortunately, the Trump induced recession will probably kick in just after everybody has voted in 2020.

        Trump’s policies have very little to do with the p[erformance of your economy. In fact, his insistence that China is paying for the tariffs shows he has no grasp of how economics works.

        Additionally, if you think it is a good thing that Trump’s policy of keeping children in prison camps without access to basic sanitary conditions is working, well, I might be forced to get myself banned from this web site.

        Don’t forget also he has a policy of ignoring climate change, dismantling what healthcare coverage ordinary people do have and giving tax breaks to his rich cronies at the expense of the national deficit. Do you really want these policies to work?

    2. There is no use in trying to win over Trump voters.

      There’s a whole of folks out there who voted for obama then trump. So, yeah, they can be won over. They key is to correctly understand why they voted for trump.


      … convince enough “moderates” that a sensible president, however liberal, is better than the current president.

      That’s gonna be a hard sell when most of the Dem candidates have veered far left, and are harping on issues that moderates either don’t care about or strongly disagree on.

      For the love of God, Dems, nominate a moderate!

        1. You can pin your hopes on Bill Weld, Steve. I’m supporting Klobuchar and trying to wake others up about this open borders madness.

    3. “What you can do, though, if find the Democratic nominee to be too liberal, is stay home.”

      “There is no use in trying to win over Trump voters”


      Guess the lesson wasn’t learned as this is exactly the attitude/behavior that lost the democrats the White House in 2016. But oh well, democrats might actually “get it” after they lose in 2020. But of course, that will be far too little far too late. The democratic party will be effectively dead after that.

      1. The opposite argument applies here too, and it applies far more forcefully to the GOP than it does to the Democrats.

        The GOP can continue to market itself as an ethnonationalist basket case party, whose sole prerogative is to preserve the privileges of white people at the expense of everything else and whose leader is pushing the country towards a dictatorship…

        …and it will thus continue to do horribly in the polls, get marmalised in the popular vote and will have to simply sit back and hope that the absurdities of the electoral college will save its skin a second time.

        I thoroughly recommend it goes all in on that. It will mean the end of this repulsive party and the blood-and-soil fever dream that has seized the American right over the last couple of years.

    4. The point isn’t to win over Trump voters. Yep, that’s hopeless. But I agree with Brooks on the point that the Dem candidate could be so far left that many moderates will *stay home.* My party ignores this at its peril.

      I don’t agree with Brooks down the line though on which issues are likely to create such peril. Immigration is a danger zone, and I think he is entirely right that candidates must not focus only on “treat asylum seekers humanely” (what reasonable moderate wouldn’t agree with that?), but that the root of the problem must be addressed and that we can’t welcome everybody with open arms. Only Castro and Biden have established reasonable positions in this regard, IMO.
      I think many of Warren’s economic plans could actually find traction with moderates, since they are well thought out and funded. She may be in danger though with the fast transition to single payer. And that’s not necessary to provide good healthcare, as other countries have shown.

      My main concern has less to do with issues, though. It’s the superficial analysis ala “Harris really showed the old white guy, think what she’d do to Trump!” Does anyone seriously think Biden would not do a good job in the area of civil rights? He’s not my favorite candidate, but I will quickly DQ any candidates that focus on soundbites over policy. Fortunately, I think some of the candidates do have substance. I am less sure about many Democratic voters. Sigh.

    1. I don’t know what the state of her health insurance coverage is. I’ve heard that senators and representatives have excellent health benefits.

  2. We reduce David Brooks to a Republican at our own peril. He’s one of the sharpest political observers around on either side and IMO is right on regarding the dangers and follies that the Dems face.

    1. I’m no Brooks hater. I like to get his take on things. And, what the hell, on occasion I even derive some pleasure or faint touch of wisdom from reading him. But Brooks’s solution to almost all our nation’s ills essentially boils down to to “Gosh, if only the whole nation could be nice, moderate, upper-middle-class, suburban-dwelling white guys like … say, DAVID BROOKS.”

      He’s seems never to have encountered a problem that wasn’t somehow the fault of the undeserving poor.

      As such, his stuff has provided fertile ground for some mordant take-downs, like this one by Matt Taibbi.

  3. Brooks has forgotten one of the key strategies of Presidential campaigning, which is to go wide in the primary and shift to the center in the general.

    Don’t worry David; while you’re correct that many of these candidates are advertising their leftist cred at the moment, in many cases it’s probably strategic. Most of these candidates, if/once they are selected to carry the Dem torch, will be sounding a lot more moderate this time next year.

    But if you’re really worried that these candidates are all totally sincere about everything they say, that’s still no reason to abandon the Dems. Just vote for Biden or Klouchobar or someone like that in the primary.

    1. I doubt that strategy can work in this day and age, when everything you say or do is recorded and ‘shared’ and made ‘viral’.

  4. David Brooks: Convince me to be a Democrat.
    Democrats: The other party is starving babies in cages at the border.
    David Brooks: No, I mean like with tax cuts or something.

    1. The “cages” are, I understand, carryovers from the Obama admin.

      It’s not who gets hurt that draws attention, it’s who is doing the hurting.

      1. Trump makes immigration his top issue. No surprise at all he’s getting more scrutiny on it than someone who didn’t talk about it at all.

        What’s perplexing then is the continued insistence both that everything bad Trump is doing at the border had a precursor in the Obama administration, but also the Obama administration wasn’t doing anything about the border.

      2. “President Obama separated children. They had child separation. I was the one who that changed it,” Trump said.
        Facts First: As discussed in a previous fact check, this is false and requires context. Under Obama, children were separated from parents only when authorities had concerns for their well-being or could not confirm that the adult was in fact their legal guardian, but not as a blanket policy.
        The family separation crisis was triggered last spring when Trump tweaked the status quo he inherited from Obama and ramped up strict enforcement of federal immigration laws that were already on the books.
        Under past administrations, some border-crossers were occasionally prosecuted, and were thus separated from their families.
        The main difference between Trump and Obama, experts have said, centers on how they handled immigrants caught near the US-Mexico border. Under Obama, the Justice Department was given broad discretion on who should face criminal charges, and federal prosecutors rarely went after families.
        But in April 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would prosecute 100% of illegal border-crossers in a policy known as “zero-tolerance.” Adults went to jails and awaited criminal proceedings. Children were sent to detention centers run by the Department of Health and Human Services, and some were eventually placed in foster care.
        This specific change is what led to the widespread separation of parents and children, according to Jessica Bolter, a researcher with the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute who has published 200 pages of reports on Trump’s immigration policies.”


    2. You do understand that we’ve had a massive increase in illegal border crossings, right? That means there are more mouths to feed. That means more money is needed. Trump has been demanding more money to deal with this problem. Democrats have refused to provide said money. Without the money, you get starving babies in cages, because there aren’t enough nice facilities to go around.

        1. Do you even read your own sources?

          Quoth the BBC:

          “How many people are crossing the border illegally?

          It’s impossible to say for certain, but US Border Patrol says it has made 593,507 southwest border apprehensions since October 2018. The previous US fiscal year there were 303,916, according to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”

          We’ve still got a good 25% of this fiscal year left, and we’re already at nearly double last year’s total numbers.

          1. Please also note that the large increases only started this year. It is a crisis created by Trump.

          2. I’m assuming you haven’t seen the graph that covers the last thirty years of border crossing arrests:


            If you look at 2019 in the context of the graph from that article, the ‘record increase’ you talk of is barely noticeable.

            Suffice it to say that in Dubya’s first year there were _three times_ the number of border crossing arrests.

            This is a quote from the linked article:

            “Illegal border crossings have been declining for nearly two decades. In 2017, border-crossing apprehensions were at their lowest point since 1971.”

            That’s nineteen-seventy-one.

        1. You saying so doesn’t make it so. Did you read the links I provided? They clearly show that the present number of border crossings is way down compared to the past.

          Bah, never mind. I should known better than to engage in futile debates with people who mindlessly repeat the present administration’s propaganda. Plus, this page doesn’t have an edit function, which is frustrating.

          Futile exercise in futility.

        2. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/border-agents-apprehended-over-1-000-immigrants-record-round-n1011956

          “Overall numbers of undocumented immigrants crossing the border both legally, by presenting themselves at ports of entry, or illegally, by crossing between ports of entry, have skyrocketed in recent months. Both March and April saw numbers above 100,000, the highest in over 12 years.”

          100,000 PEOPLE PER MONTH. Can you grasp the logistical nightmare that number of people causes?


          The House only passed additionally funding yesterday, finally, and that was with nearly half of democrats voting against it. (And nearly all republicans voting for it)

          1. Democrats offered a healthy increase, over 2 billion dollars, over a year ago.

            Trump rejected it because it didn’t fund his wall.

            Further, looking at the long term the current rate of immigration is still small. Note your quote, “in 12 years”.

      1. You do understand that we’ve had a massive increase in illegal border crossings, right?

        Caused by Trump’s policies

        That means there are more mouths to feed.

        Trump doesn’t want to spend money feeding hungry mouths, he wants to spend it building a big useless wall.

        Actually, I tell a lie, he wants to spend it on his golf courses, but if he doesn’t get re-elected, he’ll be going to prison, so he needs to build the big useless wall he promised.

  5. I hope I am wrong but I think Trump will win in 2020. I do think the Democrats are going to far to the left.

    I also think if he wins in 2020, one of his kids will run in 2024.

  6. I think Brooks makes some good point and when you are looking at 20 plus different democrats the opinions can get very crazy. They are attempting to one up each other and are easily baited by the media. Maybe after some time this will go away. Brooks is jumping the gun to think this will be the behavior after most of the challengers are gone. Also, remember that Books is a very lost republican with the arrival of Trump. His party has failed him. He was very wrong about Iraq and he never recovered. When you go all in as he did with Bush on Iraq and then see Trump crush your party, what can you do.

    After all, Trump himself has changed the behavior of most politician and made them act just a little nuttier than they should be. 30 and 60 second sound bits is all that Trump is good for so this current stupid form of campaigning is right up his street. The democrats should look for a better way and not do this. If a candidate, at this stage, raises their hand for killing all health insurance, just think how goofy that is. Who has the power to just do that — no one. You can easily be for stuff that is very unlikely to happen 2 years from now.

  7. There’s every indication that moving economically left is something Dems ought to be doing. As it stands they’d be a conservative party in any European nation.

    There’s something to be said for not scaring moderates away, but attempts to appeal to the unenthused and potentially unenthusable middle have not worked out well in the past for Dems. And as politics becomes more polarized ginning up the base matters more and more.

    Plus it’s not like Trump has faced any consequences for focusing exclusively on his base. Dems see that and wonder “Gee, how come we’re always the ones who are expected to compromise and then we get punished for it anyway? Stuff all that nonsense!”

    1. First off, I can’t stand it every time says “but the Dems would be considered conservatives in Europe!” The US. Is not. Europe. The people here, on average, have more moderate to conservative views.

      “There’s something to be said for not scaring moderates away, but attempts to appeal to the unenthused and potentially unenthusable middle have not worked out well in the past for Dems.”

      That’s a strange thing to say. When in recent history did this not work? Who was last the non-centrist Democrat to win the Presidency? Bill Clinton was a moderate. Obama was a moderate. They both played to the middle. How did Mondale do? How did Adlai Stevenson do? How did Jimmy Carter do after he beat somebody almost anyone should have beaten in Nixon’s Vice President? I’m pretty sure they all lost their bids and they were all considered to the left at the time they ran.

      If you want Dems to be talking about any economically “left” policy, it should be about unions and corporate tax shelters. But the Dems have abandoned those working class roots, so all the “free college” and “free childcare,” etc. isn’t going to impress the people who remember what it was like when they had a union to help them fight for higher wages and better working conditions and all that. Hell, maybe a lot of workers would have free childcare by now if they had a strong union to represent them. Instead, they’re supposed to go on the promises of a Presidential candidate who will likely not even be able to get a bill anywhere near their desk for signing.

      1. None of those three Democrats lost because they were considered too far left. Carter lost because of s triple whammy that no one could have survived: stagflation, gas lines, and the Irsn hostage crisis. Mondale lost because he was running against a great economy and a president who had overcome his previous reputation as a right-wing nut job. And Stevenson lost in 52 (or did you mean 56?) because he was attempting to defend 20 years of Democratic incumbency, Truman’s scandals, and the red scare epitomized by Joe McCarthy but actually initiated by Truman’s previous requirement of loyalty oaths for federal employees. Plus he was running against a genuine hero. Why do the myths of history have such a long shelf life?

        1. I never actually said that they lost because they were too far left; what I said was that, in the last few decades, the Dems that won the Presidency were moderates, and therefore Harrison’s comment doesn’t pass the smell test.

            1. “…attempts to appeal to the unenthused and potentially unenthusable middle have not worked out well in the past for Dems.”

              You’re moving the goalposts. This is the statement I want you to defend.

            2. Unless you’re going to tell me that the last four times the Democrats won the White House, and all the times since 1977, were not won by moderates, your statement is false, and it will lead to a disastrous strategy.

    2. There’s something to be said for not scaring moderates away, but attempts to appeal to the unenthused and potentially unenthusable middle have not worked out well in the past for Dems.
      Brooks’ plea to be given a reason to become a Dem is indicative of the vast potential pickup in support, were the Democratic Party to shift back to center even slightly. Instead, it’s following the lunatic radical left off the cliff.


      And as politics becomes more polarized ginning up the base matters more and more.

      Here’s an idea: how about we stop polarizing, and instead adopt moderate positions that a large majority of Americans agree on?

      1. Again, it’s never, ever, ever worked out for the Dems. They compromise, Republicans play hardball, Republicans win, the Overton window keeps moving to the right.

        What really baffles me is how much disdain you have for Obama when he’s exactly the sort of weak-tea moderate who began every negotiation by aiming for the compromise position and then letting Republicans dictate further concessions until he ended up giving away everything but the shirt off his back. Do you like weak Dems or do you hate them?

        1. “Again, it’s never, ever, ever worked out for the Dems.”

          I’m not trying to be a jerk, but I really, really want you to explain why you think this is the case.

        2. 1) Compromise has ‘never ever’ worked in politics. Really?

          2) On what issues has the Overton Window shifted rightwards?

          3) The Dems are trying to win 51% of the vote with policy proposals that only 10-15% of the electorate support. That is madness;

          4)You equate moderate with ‘weak’, and far left with ‘strong’. I believe you’ve confused strident for strong;

          5) You assume that obama went into those negotiations hoping for more than what he ended up with. I believe he got exactly what he wanted, and the negotiating was Kabuki. You think him naive; I think him nefarious and calculating.

  8. Thanks for the trenchant criticisms, Our Mister Brooks.

    Now why don’t you Brooksplain us where the weak-kneed, namby-pamby soi-disant “responsible conservatives” like yourself were while the “Southern Strategy” and evangelical-pandering and the Tea Party and the “Birther” movement were setting up your beloved Republican Party for a takeover — lock, stock, and smoking ballot box — by a freakish grifting buffoon name o’ Donald Trump?

    How’s that “Reformacon” movement of yours coming? How’s it going with the 2012 GOP “autopsy” that said the Republican Party needed to broaden the its base beyond old white folks?

    Patrician heal thyself!

    1. I think Mr.Kukec nails it. Brooks wants to return to the “moderate” policies of Dick Cheney, who brought us the Iraq disaster, and Bill Clinton’s welfare reform and Defense of Marriage Act. Some of the Dems have indeed offered ridiculous proposals: eliminating all private insurance in the face of overwhelming public opposition is a disaster. But moving “left” on the climate crisis is imperative. And so is fighting the continuing encroachment of evangelical religion. Those who worry about trump’s kids running in 2024 should consider whether we will even have a free election in 2024 if he is re-elected in 2020. As David Frum says, when conservatives see that they cannot win democratically, they will opt for conservatism and jettison democracy.

  9. It’s a bad idea to chase Republicans to the right. The more extreme they go, and they always find a way, the more the Democrats run behind to attract that mythical centre.

    The roof is on fire, Republicans suggest to pour kerosene on it, and the “moderate” Democrat response is to better use less kerosene.

    The US is governed by the most dangerous organisation in human history, the Republican party. Their reckless behaviour regarding environment and wars jeopardise our existence. Slightly-less-Republican is not good enough.

    1. How is the Republican Party more dangerous than the Nazis and the Communist party under Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot? Although Trump is loathsome, it does not mean Republicans are bad people in general. I miss the old days when there was a modicum of mutual respect between the parties.

      1. “The United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world” — Trump, in a boastful tone, cheered on by Republicans.

            1. Also, it seems relevant to consider what fraction of the Chinese CO2 output is attributable to the off-shored manufacturing of goods for U.S. businesses. Seems that that amount should be added to the U.S. total.

      2. I don’t think they are the most dangerous organisation in history. They have the potential to be, but that’s not the same thing.

        OTOH, I believe Donald Trump to be the most dangerous, morally-bankrupt human being in the history of postwar western politics. There is not a single intellectual or moral justification for either voting for him or not supporting his opponents.

        This is evident from the tactics of his apologists, who either just yell MAGA in your face and run away, or, if they have a brain and a vestigial trace of something like shame, desperately try and inflate Hillary/Biden/whoever into a 2000ft tall cyber-Stalin who wants to start ww3 and ban freedom. When you can’t defend your own candidate, lie about his or her opponent.

      3. The Republicans are the ones that make it possible for Trump to be Trump. Enabling a loathsome person as president is a bad thing to do.

        I too miss the old days when there was a modicum of mutual respect. That doesn’t just mean Ds being respectful of Rs. There hasn’t been a single case of Rs being respectful of Ds since the 2016 election.

  10. The one that most scared me in turns of turning off more ‘fence’ Americans is providing health care to undocumented immigrants. That’s the one that I think anyone who can even a little bit stomach Trump might disagree with.

    I’ll also vote for anyone over Trump but Ceiling Cat forbid it’s Williamson FFS.

    1. There’s about as much chance of Marianne Williamson becoming the next Democratic presidential nominee as there is of Donald Trump taking the stage at one of his political rallies and addressing the crowd in perfect Shakespearean iambic-pentameter.

    2. It won’t be Williamson.

      Kindly not to forget the nutballs who ran in the Republican primaries, at least one of whom ran on the “the rent’s too damn high!” platform. Sadly, one can’t help concluding that most of us would have been better off if that pizza dude had actually won.

  11. At this time of year, so far from November 2020, anyone can play the prediction game with little fear that it will be remembered when election day rolls around. So, I will join in the fun and make my fearless prognostications.

    1. I don’t care what David Brooks advises the Democrats to do. Despite his call for the Democrats to become conservative-lite that is not going to happen. He represents a tiny sliver of Republicans that can’t stand Trump. As in 2016, they will make little difference in the outcome of the 2020 election.

    2. Those people who voted in 2016 will not change their party preference in 2020, no matter how disenchanted they may be with the nominee of their party.

    3. Trump will not win any states he lost in 2016.

    4. The only votes that count will be those in the battleground states of which Trump won, many very narrowly: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa and North Carolina. Georgia and Texas may be in play.

    5. In each of these states, as well as nationwide, Trump’s total vote in 2020 will be slightly less than in 2016. This is because the number of older, white Trump voters that have died off will be more than the number of replacement younger voters, who will be voting for the first time.

    6. People coming of voting age in 2020 will vote for the Democrat in greater numbers than those who will vote for Trump.

    7. Although people like Brooks fear that the Democrats are moving too far to the Left, the leftward shift of the Democrats will appeal to minorities, who represent a larger proportion of than in 2016. This means that the proportion of white voters will go down slightly. Demographics will help the Democrats, although the white religious folk will continue to vote in a significantly higher percentage than others.

    8. Democrats will realize (I hope) that the key to winning in the battleground states is to expand the number of voters going to the polls. They need to convince people who have never voted before that the Democrats can, in fact, help them. With this, they will reject the strategists who mistakenly advise that Democrats should try to convert Trump voters who may have voted for Democrats in the past. This strategy will not work with the Trump cult. So-called political strategists have great jobs. No matter how bad their advice is they continue to claim great wisdom and charge high fees.

    9. My conclusion is that I am cautiously optimistic that the Democrats will carry the Electoral College and thus win the presidency. The only thing I will say with absolute certainly is that if the Democrats win, old white religious people will continue to whine about how much they are being persecuted

    1. It looks like Arizona might be in play as well. To me it looks like better odds of a flip there than in Florida.

      1. Ohio, too. No Republican has ever won a presidential election without carrying the state of Ohio. I repeat: NO REPUBLICAN EVER, in the 160 years since the founding of the Grand Old Party.

        So it seems a fitting hill on which Democrats might want to plant their flag and make a stand. Especially with the help of popular Ohio Democratic US senator Sherrod Brown (who still might find a way onto the bottom half of the Democratic presidential ticket, especially as the perfect ticket-balancer for someone like Kamala Harris).

        Moreover, Donald Trump is four points underwater according to recent Ohio approval polls.

    2. 8. b) I think both sides will be out in force. in ’16 many Dems didn’t bother because they assumed Clinton had it locked up and many GOP did the same for the same reason.

    3. Very well put sir. I think you may share my own view that we have become so polarized
      that the political configuration has crystallized.

      You seem to be saying that the game changer may not be converting the “moderates”, but recruiting new voters. This is what excited me most about Sanders in 2016: he shook the trees and voters fell out.

      The DNC failed us, though, and Hillary did not excite those new, young voters,. A lot of those voters either evaporated or voted for Trump.

      That last is my own take, anyway. I don’t have the numbers at hand. Just how large it the non-voting public I wonder.

      1. Historian
        Excuse me for referring to you as “sir.” This was presumptuous of me, and there is nothing in any of your estimable comments that suggest what gender you might be. And for you anti PC, anti SJW’s out there, I am not trying to be knee jerk PC here, just mindful of unexamined assumptions.

    4. Those people who voted in 2016 will not change their party preference in 2020, no matter how disenchanted they may be with the nominee of their party.

      c. 40% of the electorate are registered independents.

      1. “40% of the electorate are registered independents.”

        This is a meaningless statistics. Per Pew Research:

        “Nearly four-in-ten U.S. adults (38%) identify as politically independent, but most “lean” toward one of the two major parties. Only 7% of Americans overall don’t express a partisan leaning, while 13% lean toward the Republican Party and 17% lean toward the Democratic Party.”


        1. Between the 2012 and 2016 POTUS elections, Dems lost 6 states and 3 million votes. (NB: turnout increased.)

          Your link only emphasizes the crux of the matter: the White House will be won or lost by persuading a small number of swing voters in a small number of swing states.

          Advocating policies that an overwhelming majority of those voters oppose is political suicide.

      2. I’m pretty sure that thinking that 40% of the country is “independent” is laughable. What is important is turn out in 2020. If young people get off their asses and vote for once, Trump goes down. They are the unrepresented voices and it’s their own fault. Climate change might be the thing that tips them to actually participating in democracy for a change.

        1. Turnout was up in 2016 from 2012. HRC won MA and IL by almost 1 million vote each, NY by almost 2 million, and CA by over 4 million votes. She lost PA, MI & WI by less than 78,000 votes combined.

          Campaigning on issues that that appeal to the coastal/urban elite base may again score some blowout wins in solid blue states, but will once again lead to defeat in the swing states.

  12. I think Brooks is the right idea. I hope Amy Klobuchar gets the nomination, unlikely as that seems. She is smart, tough and moderate and would appeal to center voters. I like Warren, but she may be to weak to stand up to both the woke and nasty republicans. Klobuchar comes from a lower middle-class background and worked her way up. She also has a cheerful disposition and a good sense of humor, many of the other candidates have neither. They wont successfully survive what is to come without both. She will also be able to talk to Midwesterners and many Trump voters. Hopefully she survives to the next round!

    1. The way the rest of Dem field is following the leftist lemmings off the cliff, Klobuchar will be the only candidate able to win in the general election.

  13. “All of the Democrats seem to have decided to run a Trump-style American carnage campaign.”

    What choice do they have? How can anyone “win” the nomination by being seen as moderate, when the media thrives on divisiveness, and instantly eviscerates a contender based on that one comment, that one-second reaction shot?

    The media exists for this, and they aren’t in the biz of offering free time for anyone who doesn’t deliver.

  14. We’ve been told repeatedly that the right’s misbehavior is the left’s fault. Now we’re also being told that the left’s misbehavior is…the left’s fault. Funny that.

    1. Yes …’stop your students from being obnoxious on campus or we’ll continue to vote for an ethnonationalist wannabe-dictator who jokes about killing journalists. We’re just being reasonable.’

  15. These are basically most of the same points I made in the thread about the debate last night.

    On another note, I find it really sad to see otherwise intelligent people (both here and in my real life) who can’t agree with or often even address points from someone who they consider a political enemy. It doesn’t matter what a Republican says, they either must be wrong or we must respond by expressing blind rage at their very existence and the gall of expressing their opinion.

    And then we wonder why people are becoming more extreme. When someone like David freakin’ Brooks, one of the weakest “Republicans” of the last few years, brings out this much rage in people by writing a reasonable op-ed, I lose even more hope that people on either side can come together for the sake of their common interests ever again.

    1. My goodness, the way some of the threads in this comments section have devolved. It’s so disheartening. I come to this place because people are usually more intelligent and more willing to engage each other on their points, but so much of it has just devolved into virtual shouting at each other. Is this what is to come? It’s just going to get worse and worse for the next 1 and 1/2 years? And then, no matter who wins, I’m sure it will get worse from there?

      I’m really genuinely sad and depressed. I see people I respect turn to vengeful beings of pure wrath. Does nobody understand that this is a country and we’re going to damage ourselves beyond repair if we keep going like this? Most Trump supporters want most of the same things I, as a person who has only ever voted for Democrats, do.

      And before anyone blames Trump for the devolving nature of political discussion: this started before Trump and, while he has made it worse, one cannot both claim the moral high ground and engage in the same polarizing animosity. And the media needs to take just as much responsibility, but they’re too busy trying to make money to care about the tactics they’re using to do it, just like the corporations we normally rail against.

      Nobody is listening to anybody else. David Brooks wrote a reasonable column, even if I disagree with some points. Can so many of us not even engage with someone who is trying to have a reasonable discussion if they have disagreed with us politically in the past? Or even in the present?

      This is how democracy dies in a nation with powerful democratic institutions. No coups, no cancelling of elections, just people becoming so polarized over a long enough period of time that they no longer respect the right of one another to have an opinion. It can get so much worse than this.

      1. There’s plenty to agree with there. But the reasonable position is rarely perfectly equidistant between both sides. In this case, one side is talking about civil war, and about junking the very idea of liberal democracy, the other is engaging in identity politics and being overly PC. The latter is divisive, electorally damaging and personally annoying to me as a white male, but it is not in the same galaxy of dangerousness as the former.

        Re. the polarisation of the American populace, I remember reading this article a couple of years ago:


        The article’s ok, but the interesting part is the chart showing approval ratings for the various presidents since Truman.

        I urge everyone to look at it: it is complicated at first, there’s a lot going on, but it demonstrates, in simple visual form, the gradual peeling apart of the left and the right over the last sixty-seventy years.

        It measures how much the Dems and the GOP approved of each president, and also how much that approval changed over the president’s term; effectively, it measures how open people’s minds were.

        As you move up the chart you see the lines representing the Dems and the GOP gradually getting smaller as the approval range gets narrower and each sides’ minds close, and you see the two lines creeping further and further apart, as each side hates more fiercely and loves more intensely.

        It’s one of the most instructive graphs/charts I’ve ever seen.

        1. “In this case, one side is talking about civil war…”

          There’s a gulf of difference between one entire “side” of the political culture talking about civil war, versus just a few crackpots, and that’s what that is: a few crackpots. I have never in my life encountered a Trump supporter (and I know many) who talks about civil war, and the ones I do, even online, think it might be a possibility only because of the increasing polarization. I didn’t see Republican candidates for President talking about it (and, on the same note, I don’t see all the Dem candidates playing ID politics just yet). I’ve also seen just as many on the Left talk about civil war. Regardless, let’s not play this game, as I think it’s a dishonest one and it’s clear the vast majority of people do not think or speak in these terms.

          Anyway, with regard to your post, I think it’s interesting that this started around Jimmy Carter and then really flew into high gear after. Does it coincide largely with the rise of the 24 hour news cycle, and then the internet? It’s hard to deny that these things are making us more polarized. Regardless, I hope we can do something to change it.

          Ugh. Let’s just go back to agreeing on Chinese tariffs 😛

          1. I think this is a very straightforward uncontroversial point, although it might be inconvenient to a centrist: the threat from the left is tiny relative to the threat from the right and from Trump.

            If you really want to hitch your wagon to the claim that both sides are as blameworthy and dangerous as the other, go ahead; but own it, and don’t accuse those who’d argue against that position of “dishonesty”.

            I’ve probably changed my mind about tariffs anyway. We’re going to have to disagree to agree.

            1. ” the threat from the left is tiny relative to the threat from the right and from Trump.”

              I never said it wasn’t (though, if we think that, we should probably be trying to attune our message to the moderates and people who flipped in 2016, the people who decide who wins or loses these elections). I merely countered what I feel is a dishonest claim that “one side is talking about civil war.” No “side” is talking about civil war. A few crackpots are. And, as I’ve said before, crackpots on the internet do not reflect the population at large.

              1. I go online and I hear Trump supporters talking about Civil War frequently. Not just a little bit, but whenever an argument arises…the Trump reddit account had to be ‘quarantined’ because of its members inciting violence against the Oregon police. The phrase ‘we have the guns’ comes up distressingly often. (Trump even talks about having the army and the police on his side.)

                Clearly that’s not all of his supporters – and I never said it was – but it’s more than a ‘few crackpots’. ‘A few crackpots’ act on it, and send pipebombs to liberals, but a lot more than a few crackpots talk about it. Even the high-brow conservative media was recently debating whether the American right should even bother with democracy anymore and instead just take what they want. Positions as extreme as this are becoming the norm among a sizeable chunk of the American right. However fiercely you or I might despise identity politics and dickhead antifas neither are as dangerous.

                It’s also crucial to point out that there’s a hefty chunk of Trump supporters(or rather, voters) who are not even on the right. They voted Obama last time, they’re moderate, decent people. They obviously don’t belong on one side or the other and weren’t referents in my comment.

                Re. the tariffs thing – that was a joke. I was just being capriciously truculent. It’s one of my schticks, like mysteriously disappearing for months on end from the WEIT comment section.

                I still broadly approve of any action taken to curtail Chinese expansionism. I hope Trump sticks to his guns.

                However, his recent flip-flop on the subject of Huarei does rather bear out what I said about the long-term ineffectiveness of relying on someone like him to fight for western values. It’s like relying on the bubonic plague to stamp out your enemies – not a reliable tactic in the long-run.

              2. OK, I don’t really know how to explain this because I’m not, like, a professor of memes or something (though that would be an awesome job), so I’ve never written a syllabus or lesson plan on it: r/the_donald is basically a meme generator full of edgy kids who to try out-edgy each other. It’s like 4-Chan’s more immature brother, though it may be hard to believe it has a far more immature brother. It’s not real life. It’s a few thousand people and most of them aren’t even serious. A good portion of them aren’t even Trump supporters and find this all hilarious. “Some people just want to watch the world burn,” but replace “world” with “internet” and attach the phrase “with memes” to the end of it.

                I mean no offense when I ask this, but did you grow up with the modern internet? I get the feeling that you don’t really get the more intricate pieces of it, like meme hubs, edgy teen hangouts, political subreddits, etc., and how they all interact.

                Regardless, this is all to convey the message that this is not real life. And, for further proof of violent resistance talk, go to far-left subreddits every once in awhile, like the one for chapo trap house, anarchy, and many others. The former was given a formal warning that it would be quarantined soon after Trump’s election if its moderators didn’t find a way to tamp down on the extremely violent rhetoric there.

                But that’s not a reflection of the Left either. It’s just a bunch of edgy kids who think they’re being political.

                Anyway, I appreciate the sarcastic effort on tariffs. Any sarcasm even I don’t detect is pretty good 😛

              3. “It’s a few thousand people and most of them aren’t even serious.”

                Ffs, the Donald has 750k subscribers BJ. Never mind the fact that The Donald reddit is just a small subset of the people I’m talking about, who I speak to online on a regular basis.

                BTW, are you sure you understand the current disparity in dangerousness between the left and the right? No offence but you seem not to get the fact that one side is responsible for the vast, overwhelming majority of all terrorist killings in America. You seem to half-concede it…but then immediately back away and start engaging in apologetics.

                And yeah, the whole ‘we’re just being ironic’ defense that the alt-right/far-right use isn’t convincing anymore, sorry. I grew up with the internet alright, I think I’m around your age, I’m guessing early to mid-thirties?, so I’ve heard all this apologia before. It’s the same thing Trump supporters say every time he has one of his little chuckle sessions with Vlad about murdering journalists – ‘he’s not being serious duuude, like stop being so fucken triggered you npc soycuck’.

                Anyway this has gone on way too long. Like I said, my original point about the relative dangerousness of both sides isn’t something you disagree with, as much as you really seem to want to, so I think I’ll just cut this short – I have nothing left to say on the subject that I haven’t said in previous posts.

              4. You can’t measure subreddits by members, but by how many people actually comment. And then you need to look at the proportion of how many people comment in the way you suggest. And then you need to look at the places I’ve told you.

                You can redefine terrorism any way you want, but, if you do, you’ll have to account for gangland shootings the same way, and then the numbers won’t come out the same. And, once again, those amount to, what, ten people a year? Twenty? And they are “the Right”? If so, then all the violence antifa commits, all the censorship the very-far-Left commits, is “the Left.” But neither define most of the people on either side.

                Again, I never made any pronouncement on who is more dangerous, and it depends on the definition of dangerous. Dangerous to social cohesion? Dangerous to democratic institutions? Dangerous to communities? Dangerous to random spaces that might be shot up by some lone gunner?

                I’m sorry, but I just find this incredibly dishonest. Regardless, I agree there’s nothing left to be said, but I didn’t think it fair that I shouldn’t get to reply to new points you made. And I’ve never engaged in any apologetics, but rather stated some facts.

                As always, thanks for conducting the discussion with respect. As I’ve said before, if we met in real life, we would agree on far more than we disagree on. I’ve never voted for anyone but a Democrat in my life.

            2. By the way, what made you change your mind on tariffs? We had a very comprehensive conversation on the economics of it, and we seemed to agree on every point.

  16. It’s kind of strange to see a Republican complain about Democrats going to far left after watching Republicans go insane over the last three decades. (Not really, there is no hypocrisy from Republicans too big to surprise me) Especially when the same Republicans have been ignoring the ever increasing insanity of the GOP. Right up until Trump gets elected. But it’s a little too late now but Brooks ignores this. Republican malfeasance isn’t an accident, it’s a plan. Mass voter disenfranchisement is a wide spread plan by the Republican party. Taking power from winning Democrats is a plan. Destroying the institutions of government and destroying public trust is a plan, the brainchild of Gingrich. The GOP no longer believes in government or democracy. They only believe in power, getting and maintaining power at any cost.

    While Democrats move a little to the left Republicans have been goose stepping to the right for thirty years.

    Before Democrats moved a little to the left Democrats moved to the right as Republicans went insane. Now they are moving a little back to the left and Republicans are screaming bloody murder, as if the Russians have invaded and taken over the country.

    Oh, the irony.
    The blatant, unremitting absolute hypocrisy.

    Republicans propaganda arm, Fox News and parasites like Alex Jones, Beck and Limbaugh spread their idiocy, lunacy and extremism for so long that they had to continually increase crank the dial to continue stoking fear and rage. They did so to the point that the GOP lost control and true believers of extremism started getting elected. Now Republicans either have to cater to far right lunatics who have been fed a diet of crazy for three decades, or just operate on the principle of power for powers sake. Like Poe’s law, it’s difficult to impossible to tell which is which.

    Republicans created a monster and Brooks said little to nothing until it was far too late.

    A 2015 poll found 43% of Republicans believed Obama was a Muslim.
    That wasn’t an accident. It’s not an accident that Republicans passed voter ID laws then shut down the ability of blacks to get ID.
    When Democrats replaced Republican governors Republicans took away the new governors powers. The Republican party doesn’t care about good government or democracy. Neither do Republicans.

    1. tl;dr: Brooks needs to be lecturing the Republicans to be more moderate, not the Democrats. Fix your own house first, David!

  17. I gathered that most supported medicare for all, but do not necessarily want to eliminate other health insurance for those that are happy with it (see eg. Ms Harris’s backing off afterwards). Not a very extremist stance in my books. If the medicare for all is good enough, the private insurance business will automatically shrink, or at least forced to get cheaper, I’d think.
    On the illegals, I think there is some confusion about ‘new arrivals’ that have to be ‘processed’ humanely, (and not be treated as criminals a priori) and those that are living in the US for years or decades, pay taxes, etc. that should be offered a path to citizenship.
    In case of the former (‘new arrivals’), there were one or two who mentioned Obama’s successful pilot plan, the Family Case Management Program, and several that talked about the need to improve the situation in Central America. A kind of Marshall Plan?
    So no, I did not get the impression all were extremely leftist.
    What Historian mentioned in his 4th point under 15 (and amended by Ken Kukec), cannot be stressed enough.
    Nor can it be stressed enough that the Senate is the real battleground. The Democrats need to support the candidates for the Senate even more than the presidential candidate. And it will be an uphill battle.

    1. The private healthcare issue confuses me somewhat. In the UK, we fund healthcare out of general taxation. Private health insurance, however, is not illegal and quite a few employers offer it as part of the employees’ remuneration package.

      I don’t know why anybody would ban private health insurance. The critical thing is not to let them opt out of the public scheme, however it is structured.

  18. I think they absolutely should chase David Brooks away.

    Look, in 2000 the Dems lost with a centrist candidate. In 2008 they won running a black candidate who was painted as a Muslim atheist socialist. In 2016 they ran another centrist, and they lost to a guy who was caught on tape bragging about committing sexual assault.

    The thing with the whole playing to the center thing is that guys like David Brooks think that being a centrist means being rightwing on economic policy, leftwing on social policy.

    Trump’s rise demonstrated that a fair chunk of the “centrist” population is the exact opposite. In real terms Trump represents a coalition of social conservatives and labour, his policies regarding trade wars are in fact fairly far left.

    As is his approach – in practice at least – on foreign policy. Trump is what we in RSA would call a classic groot kakpraater, he talks a big game making threats but he’s all bark, the second it looks like it is time to bite he backs down.

    Hillary Clinton was much, much more of a hawk.

    And thus we hit the problem of playing to the center, it is in real terms totally meaningless. With any given politician you’re going to get stuff you agree with them on and stuff you don’t, and you’re going to make those compromises.

    Saying somebody is left or right or center doesn’t really mean anything, because it always boils down not to the labels but the specific policies and the internal bargaining engage over just what they want to vote for or against.

    Politicians shouldn’t be worrying about whether they’re too far left or too far right, they should be looking to what the public considers the best deal.

    This is why I despise Biden so much, but actually respect Klobuchar. Klobuchar you at least know what her deal is, her centrism is a detailed centrism, with Biden you get a vague centrism motivated by him being offended by something.

    1. “In 2008 they won running a black candidate who was painted as a Muslim atheist socialist.”

      Obama was painted by Republican extremists this way. Anyone who wasn’t already a die-hard, Drudge Report-reading, 24 hours a day Fox News-consuming Republican saw him as the moderate he ran as. We shouldn’t try to change the narrative of the campaign he ran — twice — for the sake of convenience.

      Your political views, policies, and pronouncements are not defined by how your most radical opponent perceives them. This was a very sneaky but ultimately dishonest way to paint Obama as a leftist candidate.

      1. The thing is with Obama, painting him that way backfired. People wanted something that was most definitely not the Drudge Report, 24 hours a day Fox approved president.

        After all, a staunch Republican had just tanked the world economy.

        And so far as centrism goes – 2008 Obama’s campaign held as the top priorities the US needed to deal with: Energy independence, withdrawing American troops from Iraq, cutting the power of lobbyists, and universal healthcare.

        In terms of core themes, he wasn’t all that far from the current field which we’re being told is so scary for moderates.

        1. By that time, most people agreed with drawing down our presence in Iraq and reducing the role of lobbyists. These were not considered far-left ideas. Energy independence was a constant drumbeat on the Right as well, as they wanted to ensure we weren’t dependent on foreign oil if there was ever a big war that cut us off from it. Drilling for more oil in the US wasn’t exactly a core idea of most left-wingers.

          1. Yeah, more oil rigs isn’t terribly left – but the vision of energy independence being pushed by the Obama campaign was “New Energy for America” which aimed to reduce America’s reliance on oil, while proposing America adopt cap-and-trade in order to reduce emissions.

            And that was firmly leftwing at the time, and it has only ended up further left with how far right the Republicans have gone since.

            1. Christ, I remember the Tea-Party rallies and all the signs with an Obama cartoon labeled “Socialist” — and all the right-wing fever-swamp conspiracies that Obama was actually the bastard son of Marxist philosopher Frantz Fanon.

              Those were the signs right next to the ones saying “Keep the government out of my Medicare.” Nobody ever asked that crew to bring the potato salad to the Mensa picnic.

              1. I remember it too, and I remember quite a few people being a bit miffed that Obama wasn’t the socialist he was being painted as. Cornell West for one.

              2. Well, every Dem candidate is a socialist to the Tea Party. Anything to the left of a “No Turn On Red” sign is socialist to them.

              3. @BJ

                The Tea Party had its own caucus in congress — which has now morphed into the 36-member-strong ultra-conservative “Freedom Caucus” in the House of Representatives.

                This group essentially has veto power over any legislation moving through the House. It was the source of the tsuris that led Republican House Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan to throw in the towel and retire.

                They are a yooge problem for this nation.

            2. Just for the sake of argument: let’s say he was considered a left-wing candidate in 2008. What about 2012? His moderate bona fides were clearly entrenched by then. The only thing he did that could be considered part of the “left” platform was healthcare reform (which was really just a compromise with the Republicans and the insurance companies). He never closed Guantanamo, didn’t withdraw completely from Iraq, didn’t really follow through on many campaign promises at all. He didn’t stand up to fracking, oil production went up 77% during during his administration, and Obama even tried to take credit in 2018 for the huge rise in American oil production. I don’t want to go through his entire four years, but, aside from the severely compromised healthcare reform, there wasn’t much “left” about it.

              So, can we at least agree that he was seen as a moderate/centrist/Clintonite kind of President by the 2012 race?

              1. In 2012 Obama was running against Mitt Romney – who also ran a campaign based around being a moderate. Obamacare was Romneycare, he wasn’t offering anything over Obama.

                Further Obama in 2012 was the incumbent and that is a very different situation to running to take over the presidency from someone else. If you’re in charge the case you want to make is that things are going pretty well, lets not rock the boat to much.

                If you’re looking to become the one in charge, you need to highlight issues that you think need dealing with, else what’s the point of electing you?

                This is part of why “America’s already great” was such a weak line for the Dems when running against Trump.

                And to a large extent your case bolsters mine – Obama was very much a moderate in terms of actually being in government and he was painted as being far left anyway.

                And the same is true for the current Democratic field. Even Bernie Sanders would at most be center left in most other democracies, they’re not way out there.

                And this is why they absolutely should chase Brooks away – because by catering to him they end up looking like they’re afraid of the label “left” which makes them look weak.

                And they will never be “moderate” enough where he is concerned, he is not a supporter worth having.

              2. OK, so, to sum up: Bill Clinton and Obama weren’t really moderates and, even if they were, they weren’t painted as moderates by their opposition, and the fact that we lost the last election by losing moderates means we should move farther left. I guess I think we’ll have to just agree to disagree. No problem and no animosity here. It was a good discussion and I thank you for having it with me. We just have a general disagreement and it’s not going to change with further debate 🙂

                Seriously, no hard feelings and thanks.

      2. In 2015, 43% of Republicans polled thought Obama was a Muslim.

        Extremists have taken over the Republican party, from local elections to state to federal.

        The non extremist Republicans keep voting for extremists or enabling them.
        Perhaps they think it’s going to get better. It’s not. Every time someone has stood up and said “we need to take a look at our party” the GOP has doubled down and purged non conformists.

        Trump didn’t make the Republican party insane. Trump is a result of Republican extremism, policies and propaganda.

  19. Given that Republican policy now seems to include concentration camps and prioritizing the life of fetuses over mothers, I think you lot could use a pretty hefty shift to the left (and polls seem to say that the American people would support it).

    Brooks is basically giving up and saying it’s the Democrats’ responsibility to save the Republican party from itself.

    And I have no hesitation saying that anyone who vows for Trump this time around is at least tacitly endorsing rape, racism, and concentration camps. I mean, it was pretty clear last time around for people who have been aware of him back in the 80s but this time around?

  20. Brooks is doing what he has always done: lie about, or stereotype, the left. Appleby’s does not contain the sould of America and liberals never did drive Volvos more than conservatives (I did buy a Tesla, but then again, so did a guy I know who is very much a “job creator”). Let’s take the economics:

    “Overall wages are rising by 3.5 percent, and wages for those in the lowest pay quartile are rising by well over 4 percent, the highest of all groups.” Cherry-picked to the extreme, so extreme that it’s basically lying. Go to “Calculated Risk”, the best site I know for plots of economic data. You will find that the Trump economy is utterly indistinguishable from the Obama economy. Look at anything, employment, wages, personal debt, … and you would never know from the data that Trump had ever taken office. Two things have changed, however: government debt has grown a lot – a direct result of the GOP tax cuts. But, again, that had miniscule stimulative effect because the tax cuts went overwhemingly to the super-rich and to corporations. They’ve socked the tax cuts into assets; on the corporate side, into stock buybacks – the second thing that has changed.

    Brooks is basically lying about the “liberal donor base” too. Inequality in America really is about the 1%, and half of it is about the 0.1%. Piketty, Saez, and Zucman have the data: http://gabriel-zucman.eu/files/PSZ2018QJE.pdf

    Here is their summary (1980-2014, and it hasn’t changed since – see comments above):

    There are two striking results. First, the vast majority of the population—from the bottom up to the 87th percentile—
    experienced less growth than the (modest) macro rate of 1.4% a year. For instance, the 10th percentile declined by 0.6% a year
    pretax (+0.3% posttax); the 30th percentile stagnated pretax and grew 0.6% posttax; the 80th percentile grew 1.2% pretax (+1.3%
    posttax). Only the top 12 percentiles of the population achieved a growth rate as high or higher than the macro rate of 1.4%. Second,
    even percentiles 88 to 98 experienced unimpressive income gains, between 1.4% and 2.2% a year—in most cases less than the macro
    growth rate of U.S. incomes for the preceding generation, from 1946 to 1980. The only group that grew fast is the top 1%, whose
    average income increased 3.3% pretax and 3.2% posttax, with growth culminating at +6.0% a year for the top 0.001%. The top 1% has pulled apart from the rest of the economy—not the top 20%.

    The only sense that “donor base” is pulling away from the bottom 60% is that the bottom 60% share of income and, especially, wealth has been shrinking. The income share of the next 80-98% has barely changed – but since the share of the lower 60% has been declining, a gap is opening up. The 80-98% income is increasing, but not much more than the average income is increasing.

    Brooks’s pearl-clutching about attacking capitalism? Well, he “gets the impression” – and it’s bullshit. Democrats are proposing universal health care, college education, all kinds of “radical ideas” that have been implemented throughout other social democracies – because some of the Democrats are sounding like … social democrats!

  21. Another absurdity in American politics is that it’s all about zingers, where the audience responds with, “OOOooo”.

    It’s not about policy, statesmanship, character, or a defensible voting-record. Just a quick, though often rehearsed, wit.

    People don’t want to see a food-fight, they want to know how we’re going to put food on the table — OOOOOoooooooo, default winner.

    Just wait until China dominates quantum-computation. All bets are off, then.

  22. If Donald Trump is re-elected it won’t be because of anything the Democrats do or don’t do. It will be because the Majority of Americans (and the Electoral College) want him to be re-elected. It will also send a message to the rest of the world that that his election the first time was not a mistake and that Popularism is afoot in the US. But what worries me more all of that is if David Brooks continues to be touted as the Political Moral Barometer for the Nation. In my opinion, having listened to his views for years on PBS Friday news roundup, I don’t think David Brooks fully appreciates the diversity of America and the Perplexities that result from said diversity. His politics tend to be Monotone (how an old, semi religious white man views the world).

    1. I agree with you on Brooks, but on Trump, the majority of Americans didn’t elect him the first time. He won the EC by less than 100,000 votes across 3 states. I think he got those votes because of Russian assistance, a divisive democratic candidate with enormous baggage and Comey’s unprofessionalism. Unless something spectacularly bad happens to the Democratic candidate next year (which unfortunately is possible), I don’t see how his win could be repeated.

  23. Like all Gaul in the days of Julius Caesar, Trump 2016 voters are divided in three (though, like Gaul, the three parts are not of equal size):

    First, there are the deplorables — the “Birthers,” the white nationalists, the xenophobes and bigots and misogynists and alt-righters. You know who they are.

    Second, the marks. The people convinced that Donald Trump was the wealthy, successful, decisive, savvy businessman he was portrayed to be on The Apprentice. People quite rightfully disgruntled by the way they’ve been ignored and bypassed by the dominant culture. People who saw an outsider like Trump as a “disrupter,” a fitting vessel to express their dissatisfaction with Washington. (This does NOT make them bad people or fools — anymore than the students taken in by Trump “University” were bad people, anymore than the people who pre-bought condos at Trump’s bust-out building projects are bad people, anymore than the business partners Trump left holding the bag or the employees he left unpaid are bad people, anymore than the sophisticated bankers burnt by Trump’s Atlantic City casino bankruptcy fiascoes are bad people. They are simply victims of one of the most accomplished long-con conmen of our era.)

    Third, there are the Republicans who saw Trump for what he is, but thought they could use him to accomplish their own economic and political ends — big tax-cuts for super fat-cats; the repeal of the Affordable Care Act; the rollback of bad-for-bidness environmental, work-safety, and consumer-protection regulations; the appointment of hard-right judges, etc. The people who lost sight of the old cautionary saying, if you climb in bed with the Devil, better be prepared to get fucked.

    Democrats should reach out to the middle group with a program of honest economic populism to level the playing field for the suffering working classes.

    The other two groups can pound salt come election day.

    1. I would add a fourth category to your breakdown of the Trump supporters: cultural reactionaries. These are the people who see the demographics of the country changing and they don’t like it. They view secularization and immigration as two forces threatening in their minds their way of life. Most of these people are Christian conservatives, the bedrock of the Trump base. They may have economic grievances, but they are subservient to their cultural anxiety. They will remain true to Trump and are those I refer to as his cult.

      Perhaps the Democrats can flip some of those who, in fact, supported Trump primarily because of economic grievances, but they are not a fruitful source of Democratic votes. I am not convinced that economic populism by the Democrats will win them over. There is little evidence of this since the popularity-unpopularity percentages for Trump have barely budged over the course of his presidency. This is why I believe the 2020 election will be decided by turnout, not by convincing prior voters to switch sides.

  24. In my view the biggest problem in US and UK politics is the absence of proportional representation and the fact that all policy decisions are based on partisan politics of two feuding parties. Each of the two parties urge their representatives to vote “en bloc,” not to support a cause but to support a party. This is clear with the Brexit craze in the UK , and the danger to democracy that occupies the White House. There should be a number of parties, all with access to voting in government, including two “extreme” parties, such as communists and fascists, that would never be able to have a political impact because their numbers will be small. Now, in both the UK and the US you have these radical people who force their entire party to go along with them, because otherwise the party would fall apart and loose against their opponent. It is kind of political football. Why people believe that they will be able to preserve democracy based on a 250-year old government model is for me a mystery.

  25. Frankly, David Brooks is paid to criticize Democrats. I see him every Friday doing “analysis” on the PBS Newshour. He consistently takes any egregious actions by Republicans and turns it into a diatribe about how Democrats need to adjust their behavior. Until he writes an article about how ridiculously far right the Republican party has gone, I’ll choose to ignore him. Besides, primary candidates ALWAYS play to the base and move center afterwards. As a talking head for decades, Brooks should know this.

  26. The best response I’ve seen to concern troll Brooks’ column is by Damon Young (NSFW)

    From the comments:
    “David Brooks: If Democrats keep trying to get affordable and useful healthcare for everyone in the country, civil rights for everyone, access to fair voting, and a progressive tax system I’m just going to have to vote for the party that enjoys killing children in concentration camps!

    Strong argument.”

  27. I just finished reading The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis. It was an eye-opener! The author laid out some of the places where the Trump administration has seeded anti-science people into multiple departments throughout the U.S. government. This administration is playing with fire when it comes to the scariest risks our country faces.

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