11 May Response to David Brooks
As is typical of Brooks, the article is effective rhetorically, but unhelpful in substance. Big-government liberal Republicans like Brooks are wise to remind Republicans of the tactical appeals that will be necessary to re-establish relevance, but it is the quintessential “begging of the question” to imply (or directly assert, as Brooks often does) that focusing on good civic order means “more big government”. Those on the right have a lot of work to do in showing why conservative principles are best-suited to create the end result we want, but Brooks is being disingenuous to claim we all want the same thing. He wants a civic order that magically comes at the fiat of government. This is centrism, and frankly, it is statism. Real conservatives are addressing Brooks’ concerns in how we come across, and what we are communicating (National Review obsesses on the subject, and Frum, Ponnuro, Levin and others have written best selling books). But the idea that the democratic party has captured principles of “communal order” is absurd. “Nannyism” may be impressive to a centrist like Brooks, but when the ” city on a hill” gets built, I assure you it will not be built by the centrally-planned redistributionist economy Brooks envisions. What he needs to grasp is this: branding us as mean and uncool and out of touch will work for a time; but the ideas and principles of conservatism will out-last these fad-obsessed postmoderns. Ideas still have consequences, and the idea that a better communal order is created by a nanny state is an idea with frightening consequences. Ask the Islamic Republic of [fill in the Western European country of choice].