The End of the Two-Party System

We now have a scarcity mind-set, and that mentality and the perpetual warrior style it demands are incompatible with any civilized political creed.


Comments: 203

  1. The barriers to the rise of multi-party parliamentary system in America are substantial. Gerrymandering has to be stopped; the Electoral College needs major reform); elections to Congress, Senate and the Presidency should involve second runoff elections if no candidate receives a majority of the vote, or the system used in some countries of a second choice on the ballot. Rural states will oppose these changes.

  2. And, most importantly, Citizen's United MUST BE OVERTURNED. Unfettered campaign money is at the root of all our current political tribulations.

  3. The structural barriers which impede a breaking away from and out of the strictures of our current 'two party system' are immense. The most powerful political figures in this country are the people who stand at the apex of the current system and have therefore have the means and the will to fight tooth and nail against any genuine reform. I'm not so certain that reform will come perform some more cataclysmic variety of change.

  4. This all began in the 1970s with measures like Prop 13 in California, which protected older homeowners from those coming behind them: I've got mine, my children are raised, and I'm not helping you and your kids.
    That was the unraveling of the idea that everyone's in it together. No wonder when the issue of Obamacare came along decades later, so many people didn't even understand how insurance works.
    They thought they were independent of society.

  5. George, prop thirteen came about because California was transformed from a very middle class place to live in the forties fifties and sixties to one that was becoming exclusively available to the newly rich whether in Silicon Valley to the North or Hollywood to the South. As the effects of this transformation, along with, coincidental or not; the printing of money to support the Vietnam War and accompanying inflation set the stage for dramatic increases in property taxes and those who grew up there were no longer able to afford the(taxes)whether they were ship yard workers in San Francisco and Oakland or Doctors working at Kaiser, the astronomical difference in incomes and equality were just beginning. I’m not sure where you’re from but I lived there most of my seventy plus years and witnessed the slow motion train wreck, granted it wouldn’t look like that to you if you were from a place much more crowded and expensive say Hong Kong or much poorer say Mexico but I assure you to those of us living there, and we had children too that could no longer afford the place, as teachers or policemen or later even as Doctors at Kaiser unless they were married to a lawyer or techie with stock options. There is a caveat to this and that is that commercial properties should not have been included in Prop 13 as the landlords continued to raise rents and benefit from a fixed tax base. Thanks for listening.

  6. @ ted..... great perspective. i too watched for 40 years as san francisco became too rich for even professionals like doctors. one additional thing to thing to remember from the pre prop 13 era is that people owning tracts of mature redwood and doug fir forest were forced into cutting the trees to pay the taxes. the Save The Redwoods League was created to stop this process. much redwood forest was lost to taxes before anyone had heard of Maxxam Corp.

  7. This argument may appeal to people who just woke from several decades in suspended animation, but Republicans have been pulling these tricks for many years.

    Since when were Republican all about judging people by the content of their character? For years they’ve been coming up with new ways to suppress the black vote. They’re also forgetting their own history, and trying to kill immigration policy that would have kept their own grandparents out of the country.

    They didn’t have to follow our grotesque man-child of a president and defend his vulgar race baiting, or his bogus tax holiday for billionaires, or his attempt to kill Obamacare along with untold numbers of people who depend on it. Mitch McConnell didn’t have to usurp Obama’s authority to nominate a Supreme Court justice.

    If Republicans balked slightly at the beginning of this reign of stupidity, it’s because they assumed the president was crossing lines that the Party could not survive, and they needed some plausible deniability. When it turned out that he got away with the most absurd and egregious offenses to human decency, they crawled out from behind a rock and got with the program.

    It turns out that the president is a handy excuse to do what they’ve always done: funnel money to the rich while they hypocritically talk about Jesus.

    So I agree. Let’s start something new. Let’s swarm the polls in November and make them wish they’d never been born. If that sounds harsh, remember that they asked for it.

  8. Nothing harsh about voting Democrat, just sane.

  9. Swarm the polls? You've got to be kidding!
    A special election in Alabama featureing a former shopping mall creep
    registered a whopping 35% turn out. For that matter, If 35% of the under 30 crowd had turned out in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, we would not have Trump in the White House.

  10. You have been duped by Hillary and friends. Good luck in 2020 with Joe or Elizabeth. Trump will probably beat either of them.

    BOTH parties have tremendous shortcomings and you are too blind to see the writing on wall.

    Change is coming. Don't be run over...

  11. Most modern, moderate conservatives in the US ae certainly not racists, but the idea "that people should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin" is hardly a "pillar" of conservative thought. Traditional or "classical" conservativism values tradition nad historically celebrated social hierarchy. It is easy to link this to racism, and this link has often been made in the past. Nixon's "southern strategy" did not target liberals, and one can easily find resistance to the civil rights movement -- and sometimes expressions of outright opposition to integration -- in "mainstream" conservative publications of the the 1950s, 1960s, and even 1970s. This includes some pieces of that era in the National Review.

  12. David Brooks claims Reagan Bush era conservatives coveted 'rule of law.' We are all to forget Iran-Contra. He claims conservatives believed in 'fiscal conservatism. Well, let's ignore that the the national debt increased 4.6 times from 1981-1993. He claims conservatives supported global engagement. Well, that's true, the ridiculous invasion of Grenada, the tragic invasion of Panama, the misguided arming of the Taliban, and what was the first Iraq war really over. I got a paticular kick out of Mr. Brookss' contention that moral decency was a province of the conservative movement. There no need to list even one rebuttal, as the idea that conservatives were ever morally superior to others is ludicrous. Finally, he states that conservatives cared about the content of character, not the color of skin. Hmm, Willie Horton anyone, welfare queens anyone. I find it hard to take this opiinion piece seriously.

  13. I'm not sure that scarcity or fear of scarcity itself is the basis for Trump's divisive appeal. During periods of greater scarcity, such as the Great Depression and during wartime, Americans suffered together and bore the burden together with a belief in our democratic values. Trump is the avatar of excess and his campaign promises included more and better jobs, better and cheaper healthcare, a greater not a lesser America.

    It is not absolute scarcity but the distribution of immense societal wealth that is the political issue that divides the two parties. Trump has capitalized on the tried and true theme of the Republican party that lawless, lazy, undeserving immigrants and minorities are responsible for middle class stagnation. True, Trump has added a new twist of fake populism and the evils of globalization, but he had predictably failed to make any new and better trade deals nor put in place any economic plan to benefit the middle class, other than the old trickle down scam of tax cuts for the wealthy. The plutocrats that own the GOP (funding is the same as owning) deflect attention from the rising percentage of national wealth that they control by blaming the poor and the powerless. Trumpists use all the wedge issues to divide rather than unite around common values and decency.

    It is about the rich and powerful maintaining control, it is not about clans
    fighting over diminishing resources.

  14. "It is about the rich and powerful maintaining control, it is not about clans fighting over diminishing resources."

    I agree with the first phrase, though not the second.

    The rich and powerful, under Trump and assisted by Fox & Amis, have learned to maintain control by stirring up tribalism and hatred at every opportunity, invoking the "wedge issues" (guns, abortions, LGBT issues, kneeling football players), fears that immigration is making them unemployable and a forgotten minority (along with English language), fears that Sharia law is about to be unleashed, and that 'liberals' and 'their' media mock their religious beliefs, while elevating causes like Black Lives Matter and transgender equality above any of their issues.

    To the majority of Trump "base" supporters therefore, it is a scarcity mindset, a zero-sum game and an existential conflict. Trump markets fear to them like Henry Ford marketed Model T's, even though the narratives he gins up to spread the fear around are preposterously misleading and/or outright lies.

    This plays right into the hands of the rich and powerful, who may believe none of it--but who cares? By fueling this resentment, they keep Trump voters focused on their culture wars (and attentions off of them) so they can freely pass tax cuts and take over government institutions originally created to protect voters. Voters get so consumed with their anger at 'liberals' though, they just can't see the forest for the trees while being looted.

  15. It's a mistake to romanticize the Great Depression as a time when Americans pulled together. There was a great deal of despair and violence, the Dust Bowl saw many displaced, desperate families that were being attacked by thugs from California towns out of fear of the refugees desperate for work as chronicled by the 'Grapes of Wrath'...or the gang violence in big cities and prohibition.
    The difference was FDR whose optimism and assurances that the government would help the displaced and the desperate. But the Republicans hated him and they've been attempting get rid of Social Security and other New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society programs ever since.
    By contrast, Donald Trump's party is an anti-immigrant white nationalist party of bitter resentment and victimhood. determined to destroy what remains of the New Deal.
    The GOP found the weak point in American democracy in the electoral college through gerrymandering and voter suppression. George W. Bush was awarded an electoral victory in 2000. Trump won it this time and by a much smaller margin. The GOP is shrinking but not before they destroy the democratic system.
    Bush's tax cut and Chinese financed debt to pay for the wars was a disaster. Donald Trump's tax cut is the revenge of the oligarchs. They know that they have a once in a lifetime opportunity to radically change America. His party is paying their donors and themselves before the national debt comes due.

  16. I would describe this current corrupt administration as the people who are actually lawless, lazy and undeserving...and may I add un-American & anti-America in their views and actions. They are driven by deep personal greed and will lie & cheat to take all they can while they can. When will we rise up and end this Trump-GOP crime spree? Are we all just passively allowing this to happen? If so why? Is that why they have been handing out massive amounts of opioids for some time to create a nation of dependent junkies?

  17. "the pillars of conservatism: . . . the idea that people should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Republican politicians could have denounced the race baiting but remained silent. They allowed themselves to become fellow travelers to bigotry, and spoiled their own cause."

    It is outrageous to suggest that Republicans were not racist until Trump made them do it. That they did not display bigotry until Trump made them do it.

    That isn't scarcity mentality, that is being Republican.

    Trump stole their party out from under them by being more openly what they'd always been.

  18. Amen. In 1948, Strom Thurmond led Southerners out of the Democratic Party, where they had resided comfortably since the Civil War, when the Democrats started to push for civil rights. This accelerated when Nixon devised the Southern Strategy and Republicans started to use law and order, the war on drugs, family values, and right-wing Christian evangelism as smoke screens to hide the racism. Reagan's innovation was to scuttle old-fashioned fiscal conservatism and replaced it with trickle-down economics and tax cuts for the wealthy as the cure for everything, with the burdens of deficits falling on the poor and minorities.

    The only good things that the last five Republican presidents have achieved are the EPA, improved relations with China, and nuclear arms reductions, and Trump is doing his best to undo all of that.

  19. Yes, I agree with all you write. I would only add that in the mean time, those from whom he stole the party have, in the majority, joined him with only the old line establishment standing aloof.

  20. Ted: With all due respect the Republican Party of the last 60 years has little resemblance to the Party of Lincoln or even the party of Eisenhower. Ever since the southern strategy of Nixon, the party has increasingly peddled in fear-mongering racism. And that along with the ridiculous ruling that money = free speech has brought us to Trump.

  21. Unless we decide to throw out the old constitution, hold a new constitutional convention, and set up a parliamentary system and/or a system with proportional representation, we will see no stable system with three or more major national parties. There can be brief periods of flux, such as the collapse of the Whig Party and the rise of the Republicans in the mid-1850s, followed by the temporary collapse of the Democrats into three different factions in our only real 4-way presidential election, 1860. Perhaps one or both parties will soon collapse. But our system is the strongest in the world at disfavoring third parties.

    What does happen is the existence of multiple factions in a party that act as de-facto separate parties. The Northern and Southern Democrats in the mid-20th century were functionally distinct from each other with completely opposing views on social issues, and the Dixiecrats even split off and ran separate candidates in two cases (1948, 1968). It is quite possible that this sort of thing will happen among the Republicans, with a center-right technocratic Romney wing regaining some power as Trump loses popularity but still being vociferously opposed by the right-wing populist wing. Likewise the Democrats may see a split between their own technocrats and their social democrats.

  22. It's not just tribalism that is motivating indecency. The appeal to the emotional unconscious on the charismatic level bypasses the value of thoughtful and educated analysis. I wonder if the discipline of education is really rigorous enough to check the appeal to this level. What kind of education could become a tool to help free us from the grasp-grip of the emotional unconscious that is now wreaking havoc with, and possibly survival of, fundamental democracy?

  23. "Liberals will realize: If we want to preserve liberalism, we can't be in the same party as the clan warriors." "we"? David Brooks does NOT speak for liberals! Liberals today stand for liberty and equality, free speech, press, religion, civil rights, minority rights, gender, orientation, and sexual identity equality, Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Health Care, labor unions, environmental protection, free markets, free trade, and diversity. As the cowboy philosopher Will Rogers said "I don't belong to any organized political party. I am a Democrat."

  24. ALL are created EQUAL and endowed with unalienable rights:
    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

  25. Sure, but tell me how you can simulatneously legislate equality, at least as the current Democratic platform supports, and allow even a modest amount of liberty.

    And speaking of progressive initiatives, many of these seem to go beyond the pursuit of happiness, and seek to provide it.

  26. Equality is legislated by the elected representatives of We the People in the House & Senate. Equality is also achieved in the Executive and Judicial branches of our government. Liberty is NOT a license to discriminate against ALL who are EQUAL.

  27. The answer is true majority-based, multi-choice voting, not a parliamentary system. Read up on Ranked Choice and Approval Voting.

  28. Although Mr. Brooks is analyzing well the demise of the Republican Party as we have known it from decades past, and yes, it indeed has its clan warriors, I do not agree with his placing liberals in the same bowl of overripe fruit as the present GOP paradigm.

    I am sure a lot of people will disagree with me, but I do not consider progressives and Democrats left of center to have a clan mentality. When one thinks of large societal clans, one can not help but think of tribalism. Tribalism as a group is individualistic, thinking not only of its survival but also its exclusive ideology. It works from within to stay within. On the contrary, although the Democratic Party has special interest groups on which it focuses, those groups tend to be our most vulnerable, the suppressed in one form or another, or those who are discriminated against.

    I personally do not want to see my party disappear. Does it need improvement? Of course it does. But unlike its counterpart across the aisle, it is on the right track in making this nation fairer, more just, and all encompassing of its people.

  29. We are still a society with an abundance of everything. Except the Oligarch class has stolen most of the wealth by rigging the political and economic systems in their favor. This is a pre-revolutionary situation that is deteriorating towards civil war and revolution.

  30. David, please, enough with the both sides do it. You know the Republican ruling class has lost its marbles and Trump is the end-game - he is the eventual Dorian Gray in the attic. For all the faults of the Democratic party, it is a party that tries to govern in a manner that will produce the greatest benefit for the greatest number, and not only for its donor class (although it does that too).

  31. If that is true, then why did the Democrats lose to Trump. Its so hard to comprehend.

  32. Russian interference + Comey's statements about Clinton's emails...

  33. There's no need to start something new at all. Most industrialized nations have efficient, inexpensive health care for all. Most industrialized nations have inexpensive higher education. Most industrialized nations have realized extreme wealth inequality leads to social injustice, citizen unrest, scapegoating, and distrust of government. We just need to be like most industrialized nations.

  34. A significant part of the problem comes from articles like this that describe of "partisan warfare" in some fantasy world where both the left and the right have lost their bearings.

    In fact, a large-scale conservative disinformation campaign has been waged for decades. This simply destroys any possibility of rational discourse or constructive governmental problem solving. Conservatives have retreated into a kind of middle-ages anti-rationalism where simple facts that contradict their fantasy-based worldview are simply dismissed.

  35. I think David is too optimistic. If scarcity is a future condition due to market forces, human population, and unequal distribution of goods and services, then clan warfare in a zero sum world seems inevitable. I'm hoping I am wrong and we invent our way out of scarcity. Either politically or otherwise.

  36. In 1850, at the end of Henry David Thorough's Walden period, the US has a population of 23 million.

    Thorough held up the idea of independent living; a quote from Wikipedia reads:

    "That government is best which governs not at all;' and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have."

    Walden Pond has been engulfed by the suburbs of Boston. The population of the earth has increased 14-fold, and abundance has been replaced by scarcity.

    Brooks argues that "the scarcity mind-set is an acid that destroys every belief system it touches."

    But maybe it is scarcity itself instead of the scarcity mind-set.

    David Brooks, and the Democratic Party itself, seem blissfully unaware of the scarcity that grips America's poor, partly because of too much population growth.

    What does it mean when the liberals in control for eight years fail to deliver on a promise for a path to universal health care? It means early death for many of America's poor.

    This year about 29,000 will die of prostate cancer, another 40,000 of breast cancer, many of those deaths early because we could not afford to provide the people with cancer screenings.

    Many of America's poor rightly see that it is the steady stream of illegal immigrants that has shattered America's safety net.

    Other countries enforce laws on immigration. Why not the US?

    We need a stop to illegal immigration and a one-child policy to return to a period of lower population density.

  37. The U.S. population increase is already below the replacement rate. Modern nations need seven people working for each person who is retired. Stopping immigration will exacerbate the problem and our population will age, which is a big problem in Japan and several European countries with low birthrates.

  38. Whaaa?!? This writer blames "the liberals in control for 8 years" for their failure to deliver on universal health coverage?!? What is this guy smoking? The GOP blocked and blocked and tried to repeal and tried to repeal health coverage year in and year out. Does he remember the scare tactics of the GOP in spreading "fake news" about death panels that would determine benefits.

    The major reason we don't have universal health coverage, in my opinion, is that the GOP has waged a scorched earth campaign against it for many many years!

    Clearly they know what their masters -- big Pharma and the insurance industry -- want, and the GOP does their bidding!

    Nothing indicates that the GOP cares a whit about the health and welfare of the ordinary American citizen

  39. The problem is not just waiting for "decent liberals and conservatives" to tire of the current two-party system. The main issue is how many decent liberals and conservatives are out there. Hoping for a European style multi-party system has long been dream of political reformers, but in reality history and almost every feature of the American political system guarantees a two-party system.

  40. To pick just one issue out of this wonderful survey, the change of Evangelical Protestantism here in the Midwest has turned our small towns into centers of self-righteous hatred. Growing up here in the 1940's and 50'S was a welcome and wholesome experience. That is no longer the case.

  41. The question is how long will it take. I am so embarrassed by politicians on both sides.

    A recent Harvard Business School report put it well. "By nearly every measure, the industry of politics, itself, is thriving. There’s just one problem. The people whom the politics industry is supposed to serve have never been
    more dissatisfied. Public trust in the federal government is hovering at a near 60-year low"

  42. Its not a "scarcity mentality". It is a concentration mentality. And this isn't something new with Trump. Since Reagan the Republican mindset has been the concentration of more and more resources in the hands of fewer and fewer people. The concentration of wealth from the workers and middle class to the wealthy has been the core of Republican governance philosophy, and the goal of Republican political strategy and manuever ever since the 1980's. Trump's latest "tax reform" shows again how these new policy decisions continue towards this goal of diminishing government's role as a arbiter towards equality and instead place government in the role of abetting and focusing wealth towards those who already have more of it. While always promoting the idea that "merit and the market" have done this, in fact the Republican's policy decisions have minimized merit and skewed the markets to favor those whose position is already ahead, giving them new easy avenues to greater wealth, while enacting barriers to upward mobility and economic equality (e.g. decreased government funding for education, particularly higher education; tax policy that heavily favors capital income over labor income; decreased funding for tax laws enforcement; decreased funding for infrastructure, favoring 'privatization'; this list could easily go on.) The net result is that we have a more concentrated and unequal society than at any time since the Gilded Age of Robber Barons... and this is the Republican goal.

  43. I enjoyed the column. And agree with most of it.

    Yet Brooks' steadfast denial of the chief cause of all this is clearly shown by omission in the following paragraph. Particularly that portion I've embraced with asterisks. He says:

    "Today, after the financial crisis *the shrinking of the middle class, the partisan warfare, a scarcity mind-set is dominant* Resources are limited. The world is dangerous. Group conflict is inevitable. It’s us versus them. If they win, we’re ruined, therefore, let’s stick with our tribe. The ends justify the means."

    Resources are limited because Oligarchs have captured them. Republicans are the party of greed for themselves and their donors, and Citizen United is their major achievement to this end. Also gerrymandering to protect those protecting the Republican donors, who are best described as Oligarchs.

    The shrinking of the middle class is caused by Oligarchy. Until David can fully admit this, all of his explanations is the tepid grousing of someone not acknowledging the folly and general selfishness of their Party.

    Republicans have allowed and encouraged all the bleating we are now hearing from establishment Republicans like David. There's a class war and the sooner Brooks realizes that he helped create it, the better off we'll all be.

    Much of this "scarcity mindset" is unmentioned here. The term shrinking middle-class should always be coupled with the rise of an intractable Oligarchy. Shrinking middle class/rise of the oligarchy.

  44. This isn't a country of abundance anymore, as it was in the post WWII period when Europe was blitzkrieged, and Japan was nuked. America is not exceptional, it's going through the same cycle that Great Britain went through, going from being dominant to not so. If we'd just accept that then maybe we can work towards setting up a system to allocate resources more equitably. And this country is too diverse to be ruled by our current two party system/winner takes all; we'd be better off with a parliamentary system of proportional representation.

  45. Brooks is right there is need for a party that can be home to moderate republican and moderate democrats...

  46. A third party always gives the win to one of the major parties and never, ever wins on its own. It's basically destructive.

  47. The Republican Party was a 3rd party in 1860. And they won.

    Brooks is saying that 2020 may be another 1860. Maybe. Maybe not.

  48. Which is why we need fourth, and fifth, and more parties, and a parliamentary system, where "parties" must compromise to have even a hope of governing.

  49. I was expecting that there would be a reasonable percentage of Republicans who would refuse to sign on with the Trump agenda. That does not appear to be happening, unless you only count the current Republican House Members who are not going to run for re-election in 2018. At this point, I believe Mr. Brooks has correctly diagnosed the maladies which pervade both parties. The Democrats seem lost in their attempt to counter Trump's assault on all that is decent and good about America.

    It's looking to me, more and more, as if there will be multiple tickets running in 2020, some moderate Republicans, the Trump repubs (hard right), the Democrat party (probably a hard left component) and maybe a Bloomberg type independent. It will probably be a mess, but I'm afraid it's necessary if we ever hope to break the "scarcity mind-set" and get back to having a functioning and rational democracy.

  50. Mr. Brooks overlooks the fact that across the country, the Democratic and Republican Parties are etched into the fabric of state election laws, rules, and regulations. Just setting up primary voting logistics is hard enough for county election officials. The deck is stacked against anyone running for office outside this entrenched two-party legal and regulatory structure. In theory, yes, multiple parties are welcome. In reality, it won't happen. We will continue with the Trump sycophants and toadies manipulating the GOP, and we will continue with a Democratic Party that has no ability to focus, develop new leadership, and sell something better, beyond bashing Trump.

  51. It might also be worth noting that fear and pessimism are real money-makers. Right wing talk radio, Fox News, the NRA— they all realize a profit by promoting a mindset that is mistrustful and angry. As long as ad revenues and listenership/memberships grow, this is a business model that works. The success of this sales model eliminates the need to attribute the scarcity mentality to something so esoteric as a philosophy.

  52. I absolutely agree with Kris K. The concept of the public owning the broadcast spectrum and "leasing it" to broadcasters in return for broadcasters serving the "public interest, convenience, and necessity" vanished years ago. Couple that with AM radio listeners abandoning AM for FM, AM station owners have been desperate to make a buck any way possible. Couple that with non-broadcast communications (cable etc) having no obligations whatsoever to the public good, and the perfect environment for selling fear and resentment was created. The Reagan era elimination of the FCC Fairness Doctrine and issuing a foreign broadcast license ownership waiver to Aussie and known good government assassin Rupert Murdoch set the stage for Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, Laura Ingraham and Donald Trump. Fear peddlers all.

  53. David, an interesting column, but you engage in the common fallacy of the press so prominent in the 2016 election coverage -- false equivalence. The GOP and decent conservatives have much much more to repudiate and move away from than does the Democratic party or decent liberals. It is not the latter that is actively trying to destroy the rule of law, fiscal discipline, global engagement, and so forth. It is the Republican establishment and their embrace of Trump that bears a disproportionate burden of blame.
    Don't equate the faults of the left with the faults of the right in its current destructive state.

  54. Exactly!!

    Not everyone is entitled to their opinions.

    I can hear the ‘bill of rights’ crowd screaming from here, but that is the truth.

    Opinions have been given too much importance in this era of social media - they matter more than facts.

    If I say that Vaccines cause autism Because a child I knew was diagnosed with autism after receiving a vaccine, That is a opinion and not a fact.

    The fact is that vaccines prevent many deaths and pandemics and have for years.

    An Additional example might be one that was widely held in the 17th and 18th century in America and that was that individuals of African descent were not fully human.

    This too was an opinion and widely held by most people.

    The opinion was so dangerous that it enabled an economic system based on murder and torture called slavery.

    Opinions are important, but they are not facts and we ignore this at our own peril.

    I, too am guilty of glorifying opinions, I watch cable news and comment frequently on The NY Times but I am beginning to believe that the punditry and the 24 hour need for newstainment has caused this elevation of opinions over fact.

    As my nanny used to say, ‘opinions are like elbows, most everyone has them but they are really only useful to their owner.’

  55. The false equivalence is breathtaking. Among my liberal friends I know of nobody who would not like to engage in real nation building at home. But, we won't do it with a party that embraces bigotry, misogyny, corruption and lying. There's nobody to trust on the conservative side anymore. So, sure, some liberals join a clan on the far left, but the entire GOP has formed a clan on the right, and they're not giving an inch on their principles of hate and fear.

  56. The left pulverizes the right? Where? On which stance? The American left caves to the right, mainly because there is no money in it for them not to cave. Americans are not warriors. The revolutionary war was fought by infantry men who were on the lowest rung of the social ladder for the promise of food and a parcel of land to achieve full citizenship if the Continental Army should prove victorious. During the Civil War, the drafted wealthy paid the poor to serve in the Union Army. And those were wars that threatened the nation! The left in this country capitulates. Read the history of the blood shed during labor riots in Europe in the 19th Century. Americans side with their tribe in their own worst interests and say thank you sir, may I have another. Thus, America will not end up with a multiparty system. Not unless Americans overthrow the constitution and rewrite it for a parliamentary system. Not happening.

  57. Not only does the Left capitulate, but the Left has been uninterested in politics as it truly is in the United States and has been uninterested in collective power for 50 years. Evidence? How many Democratic Presidents have we had since LBJ? And how many Supreme Court Justices have they appointed? How many state houses do Democrats control? Who played "duck and cover" when the Tea Party invaded Democratic Congressional townhalls a few years back?
    The core of the Democratic Party is rotten. It is dysfunctional. It does not practice the basics of politics. It refuses to agree on a common theme. It doesn't market based on what critical voters in critical locations outside urban centers need. It doesn't craft sales messages based on those needs if the Party even knew what they are. Democrats on the Left sit around thinking altruistic thoughts and then are flattened at election time by ruthless, cheating GOP driving steam-rollers. Mr. Clinton was out for Mr. Clinton in the 1990's, not for strength and power of his political party. Barack Obama is a good guy, but politics is not his game. He has been a non-politician in the most political position on earth. And he hated that aspect of the job. The Party suffered.
    The rot in the Democratic Party is evident this week as a 77 year old person with two hangers-on at least that old or older, are clinging to power and hopes of regaining legislative power in the US House. Any new blood is cut off at the knees.

  58. The Problem is Income Inequality.
    The party that presents a viable solution to this and then follows through- will be the party of the future.
    I think 2018 will show if economic Democrats can push away Pelosi and Schumer and show that they care about the 90% and not just Dreamers. IF they do this then the Democrats will be the party to beat. If they keep following Pelosi and Schumer off the cliff we are all in trouble. I support Dreamers, but really an 8 hour speach for Dreamers, but nothing for the working class, those who need medicare and medicaid, college students crushed with debt.

    The Republican party is dead. If it looks dead now, just wait until the findings of the Mueller probe become public.
    The never Trumpers need to get organized and organize a new party.

    Lets have serious conversations about stagnant wages, the precarious gig economy, funding education and health care, a fare and progressive tax plan.

  59. David, you are focusing on the dependent variables rather than the independent. Donald Trump, and the future of the major political parties are functions of what is happening on a larger scale. The first thing to keep in mind is that unlike France, Germany, England and Russia, America has no ancient traditions and its people are not united by ties of blood and ancestry. All of us are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. What holds us together is the pressure to conform to custom, creed, and a belief in politics as the best way of settling disputes and forming new policies.

    The pressure to conform is being challenged by the changing nature of American identity. Through immigration and differential demographic growth rates, our once white majority is becoming a minority. We are becoming a multicultural society, white, black, and brown.

    Trump and the new Republican Party represent the fears of the threatened white majority, including evangelicals. We are going through a rough passage. The major parties may split and recombine. But within ten years or so, we will come to a new equilibrium and perhaps an era of better feeling.

  60. 9-11 was the equivalent of a foreign invasion. It taught Americans to fear which is part of the scarcity mindset you describe. It did not teach Americans wisdom.

  61. "It's going to get worse."

    A rather glum prospect for democracy in America, isn't it? The institutions that we have cherished are under attack as never before in my lifetime. It feels like Civil War 2.0. Instead of war between North and South, it's war between educated vs poorly educated, not about party or ideology. It's about tribalism as you point out so well.
    What's surprising is that Republicans like Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, John McCain et al who see dangerous and extreme Trumpism is when they speak against Trump's autocracy still vote with the party that abets it. Shouldn’t there be all out confrontation with a president who is, in their own words, dangerously autocratic?

    Why can't they refuse to sign on to party legislation when the party is complicit in the destruction of democratic institutions? Where are those heroic enough to do so and defend a democracy that was founded on the courage of men who pledged their lives, their fortunes and sacred honor to defend it? I thought it was the DNA of American leaders. I guess I was wrong.

  62. "liberalism goes from a creed that values individual rights and deliberation to one that values group separatism and intellectual intolerance." I disagree. I've been a liberal all my long life, and have voted for Democrats for over 50 years. As always, I am a Democrat because I am in favor of government FOR the people. It seems, especially now, that Republicanism can be defined as government AGAINST the people. That's an oversimplification, to be sure, but basically it's what I believe to be true.

  63. The "two party system" was never a system. It is an accident of history. Duopolies seem to be inevitable in America - Pepsi and Coke, Apple and Microsoft. How about following Washington's advice and get rid of political parties?

  64. With this column and the column of 10 days ago, the exceptional East German/immigration piece, I think Brooks makes a strong claim to be the most interesting columnist now writing for a national publication. There are genuinely ideas and arguments and even some facts, and also some honest coming to terms with way in which his party of long-time allegiance is now unfit for governance of a modern liberal democracy. I myself don't think the Dems will descend into clan warriorism because it historically has been committed to the positive role that government can play. Gridlock and veto games are inconsistent with that. I think the first move for someone like Brooks is the Max Boot position -- vote this crop of Republicans out and rebuild.

  65. The GOP started down this road decades ago. Trump is the inevitable result, not an aberration.

  66. He's also an aberration.

  67. The end of the two party system is our only hope, given the nature of the two parties.

  68. I enjoy your writing, Mr. Brooks. But regarding President Reagan, you travel with blinders on.

    You state that Ronald Reagan defined the "abundance mind-set." Defined it how, Mr. Brooks? By destroying unions so that employers held full sway over pay and benefits? By using his rhetorical talents to cast the environmental movement as villains of the populace? By building up conservatism by falsely decrying what was an independent and truly "fair and balanced" news media? By painting minorities as shiftless "welfare queens?" By shifting tax breaks to the top while leaving the middle class, already reeling from the loss of collective bargaining, to carry the load of federal taxes, thus leaving federal coffers once generally balanced without the funds to build and improve state and federal infrastructure, to provide college education at a price that the working class could afford, to assist the poor out of poverty?

    No, Ronald Reagan was not the last American savior. He was just the opposite. And upon that rock was grown the pathos of victimization that launched Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and the wedge that now divides us.

    This nation is crumbling not because of some unknown spirit of "scarcity." It is not crumbling because of Trump. No, it is crumbling because of a Republican Party built upon the legacy of your beloved Ronald Reagan.

  69. Ronnie Reagan . B movie actor .

  70. re: the media

    Ronald Reagan destroyed the Fairness Doctrine. We have the mess we have today because of his work. Without it there would be no Fox New, MSNBC or CNN, or they would look vastly different.

    Let's not forget Ruppert Murdoch and Ronald Reagan were great friends. And that right there is enough to question Reagan's mental acuity.

  71. Someday, Reagan will be exposed and eliminated as nothing more than an aged grade B actor who was dying from Alzheimer”s and incapable of any sustained conversation. 38 Administration officials indicted for corruption, treasonous Bible/birthday cake subversion with the Ayatollah to hold hostages until Reagan won, drugs and guns deals to finance the illegal war on Honduras, tax cuts followed by a score of tax increases. The media colluded with the GOP to hide Reagan’s corruption as early as the debates with Carter “Reagan's team had somehow acquired President Jimmy Carter's briefing papers, classified top secret” and then fail his competency exam during his debate with Mondale:https: //youtu.be/x3Z1YE1iCxM followed by 4 years of mental decline.

  72. Still more false equivalence in what is at times, an interesting piece. The Democrats are not nearly as craven as the GOP. There are strong differences of opinion on tactics in the various factions but the overall value system is widespread and, in spite of all the hand wringing over the lack of a tee shirt "message," what Democrats want conforms to what Mr. Brooks wants us all to want. As many of the comments have pointed out over the last year, Mr. Brooks and his friends are so opposed to joining us Democrats that he starts spinning fantasies of third parties and parliamentary systems.

  73. Mr. Brooks has created a fairly complex narrative for what to me seems to be a fairly simple situation.

    In my view, we are where we are today simply because those we elected to govern us forgot that they are supposed to work for the benefit of the entire country, and instead worked primarily for their own benefit and for the benefit of those who could enrich them. I don't know what the Clintons were worth when Bill entered the White House, but they're worth about $80 million now. And Barack Obama is worth about $12 million, but he's only been out of office for a year or so. Watch it climb.

    So much for the last two Democratic presidents. The Republicans make no bones about carrying water for the mega-wealthy and corporate America.

    So, to a governing class that no longer cares for the little guy, throw in the toxic ravings of Rush, Ann Coulter, and Fox News, and of course you have tribalism. You really couldn't have anything else.

  74. Personal wealth is a red herring by which you've been distracted. What people DO in office is what one has to look at, Congress is teeming with wealthy people. What they advocate and attempt to DO is the cogent argument...that is, when they aren't being blocked by do-nothing, know-nothing agents for the 1% and themselves ...and Russia.

  75. I give Mr. Brooks credit for being consistent - he has consistently advocated for no government action or intervention to help people of this country. He always supports the conservative approach of "no help for the little guy" and "give the job creator class the benefits". Hands off making any changes that government prescribes.

    So his prescription for solving our political dilemma - a dilemma being caused by the current crop of repubs who are trashing our democratic norms, ignoring our Constitution and dragging us over this cliff with them?

    We will "eventually" solve the problem. When decent liberals and conservatives decide that. Says Mr. Brooks.

    We don't have the next 100 years to resolve this, David. Perhaps you would accept living the rest of your life with our country and it's principles debased and trashed like this but I sure don't. We need to turn this around soon or there will not be a democracy to save.

    VOTE in November. Please. Everybody. It is important.

  76. There IS a scarcity...when 50% of working people make so little they don't pay taxes! They barely scratch along...retail workers, truck drivers, child care workers, bank tellers, and, yes, over=50 manufacturing employees without jobs...I"M A PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL and I see it! The "scarcity" has gone to the 1% of the 1%...that's where it's gone...and we have bad schools, bad urban transportation, inadequate health care, and we pay "stars" hundreds of millions of $$ to keep us from thinking about it: sports stars, actors, venture capitalists.

  77. Bread and circuses.

  78. A young man was tossing out spoiled fruit at the grocer's supermarket. He was shaking his head, and we had an exchange of whether this produce could be saved to make puddings and other edibles for consumption at a discount. 'It is Not Allowed'. Perhaps it is time to amend The Constitution was a thought shared.

    Thanksgiving has come and gone, but one celebrant at the time mentioned the necessity for a Third Party. We are already challenged by a Two-Party System.

    The word 'Bipartisan' disappeared in 2008 when some Republicans decided to wait out the Last President's term. If Trump were introduced to an older, more measured generation, he would be regarded as an American Cult Figure. Cult Figures are not notable for creating jobs and work opportunities. Not for the foundation of the Pyramid; not for enhancing their health care; not for anything other than blood, sweat and tears.

    The 'Bring Back America' was opaque. We are regressing. We, The Will of The People, who placed Trump into The White House. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, weakened by polio but not crippled of mind, was able to bring The New Deal to life. Let us not forget the institution of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation during the Depression; a negotiating structure designed to reorganize and refinance ailing public and private economic projects, and stimulate new ones.

    President Lincoln's Birthday this February 13, and our State of Affairs are graver, more somber than realized.

  79. As We approach the hour of Midnight, We bid farewell to Lincoln's Birthday on this day, born on February 12.

  80. There is nothing particularly ideological about our current mess. As they have since 1877, the Republican Party represents America's economic elite. As a natural minority party, they do not believe in democracy, but need to con the public or suppress or gerrymander votes to win any election. They are assisted in their efforts by the high percentage of voters who have no hope on grasping issues. Those people make up most of the Republican base. There is no coherent intellectual content involved; these are class issues. Since the Democratic Party basically represents everyone except the economic elite, they are inherently unfocused; a subject of humor going back to Will Rogers. To understand what is going on, everyone needs to see the recent PBS program on the gilded age. The question of the day came down to whether the government would represent capitalism or people. The McKinley/ Bryan election gave the answer: capitalism. The Republican Party won that election and, with the exception of the post Depression era, have imposed that decision on America since. The declining prospects of the working class has made Republicans' task easier because they exploit anger well. Any effort to deal with the facts in liberal/conservative ideological terms requires coherent definitions of both terms that are beyond our capacity.

  81. Brilliant.

  82. That PBS series was excellent and eye-opening.

  83. Thank you.

  84. Something like the European-style multiparty system will be the relief from the black or white, all or none system that we are suffering under now. No room for compromise or nuance the way things are now. It is a systemic problem that we can no longer avoid. Perhaps an amendment.

  85. Absolutely, and for city government as well--this is key.

  86. Scarcity is principally a reality.

    Scarcity as in the ever-growing income disparity, the eroding of retirement, scarcely affordable quality medicine and prescription drugs, the pauperization of many colleges students, millions of food insecure children.

    Scarcity is principally real. It's only a mindset, a mentality secondarily

  87. I suggest rather, that scarcity wouldn't need to be a reality if we didn't keep allocating our financial resources in ways that perpetuate and increase the well-known financial inequality in our country.

  88. Scarcity in this country is contrived by the same forces that produce the growing disparities in wealth. In fact there is now more wealth per capita than at any time in our history. But if we don't figure out some way to share it more broadly there will be no reason for the mentality and the effects Mr. Brooks so eloquently describes to be reversed. But don't be fooled - as a nation, as a society, we have plenty!

  89. "Decent liberals and conservatives will eventually decide they need to break from it structurally. They will realize it’s time to start something new."

    That sounds like a best case scenario, sadly.

  90. Never underestimate the destructive dollars of PACS they gave us this extremely dysfunctional government and their damage it deep in the core of our states as well as at the federal level. As long as big money infest politics it dances for the man with the money.

  91. David, you wrote:

    "Under the influence of this mentality, liberalism goes from a creed that values individual rights and deliberation to one that values group separatism and intellectual intolerance."

    Excuse me? Liberals are actively welcoming immigrants into the American mosaic. Liberals are actively engaged in scholarship on the defensible varieties of 21st century human behavior and experience.

    David, this crisis has nothing whatsoever to do with us - and everything to do with the way that conservatives have allowed rank political pornographers to hijack their movement, and double down every time their crackpot ideology fails.

    This crisis has everything to do with the radicalization of the Republican base, due to tragic overexposure to a mind-numbing, soul-destroying propaganda machine.

    David, you keep searching for a grand theory implicating both parties in an effort to avoid acknowledging the humongous elephant in the middle of the room.

    When you feed a people of steady diet of the foulest political pornography imaginable, you can't be surprised later when they hook up with the candidate from Hell.

  92. “Under the influence of this mentality, liberalism goes from a creed that values individual rights and deliberation to one that values group separatism and intellectual intolerance." Liberals believe in democracy, government of, by, and for the people. Persons like Brooks should recuse themselves of such partisan characterizations while defending Conservativism which does not support democracy but favors elite government that exploits the masses by provoking terrible impulses to fear, hate, and violence using racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and ignorant superstition instead of scientific evidence. Republicans want the American working class to distrust government, their democratically elected government and trust “businesses”. Republicans require support from persons who are white poor racist, and male supremacists who hold religious beliefs that subordinate all women. David Brooks supports the Republican agenda and while he squirms when Trump is the topic he has never denounced racism or misogyny or xenophobia but when peripherally shielding the GOP from Trump’s vulgar revelation of GOP dirty laundry. Brooks can hide the laundry at times but the stink lingers and nauseates.

  93. Perfect label for the addictive swill the Republican Party has become - "political pornography."

  94. Matt, I must defend David Brooks on this one. I've been in academia for years, surrounded by the hard political left, and they are just as intolerant and tribe oriented as David says they are.

  95. In reality, it's the Cruel Calvinistic Capitalist Party (CCCP) - the same Cyrillic abbreviation (Союз Советских Социалистических Республик) for the Soviet Union - yes, it's our dear comrade Russian-Republican friends who have launched massive, repeated torpedoes at the good ship United States and transmogrified a perfectly good vessel into today's Trump Titanic.

    The Republicans, who ironically claim to be the party of Lincoln, have done everything possible to replicate a Grand Old Plantation setting in 2018.

    For decades, they have fought the white-supremacist, religious cuckoo, Guns R Us, flag-waving fight that collapsed the nation's IQ into a cesspool of cultured stupidity that warmed the cockles of their tiny, cruel, greedy 0.1% hearts, scamming millions of regressive, racist, religious rubes along the way for laughs.

    Meanwhile, liberals and those impervious to Grand Old Propaganda went about their daily business getting en education, respecting science, telling the truth, voting and thinking the country was a democracy.

    Little did we realize that there are two paths to political power in America; democracy for Democrats...but coup d'etats for Republicans...requiring only a minority of the vote.

    Liberals and centrists in America, it turns out, require a supermajority vote to gain representation.

    And we intend to get a supermajority on November 6, 2018

    Because Grand Old Plantation-style Russian-Republicanism is disgusting and unAmerican to the supermajority of voters.

  96. True, but don't become the example of false equivalent clanism that Brooks mistakenly conjures.

  97. one can only hope

  98. Lincoln is turning over in his grave from what "his" party has become, but Andrew Johnson and Warren Harding are trading high fives at the prospect of moving up from the bottom.

  99. I have two big problems with this essay:

    1) Krugman says that conservatism traditionally believed that "people should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin." MLK said that, and many conservatives thought King was inspired by, or an ally of, the Soviet Union. Barry Goldwater, the GOP nominee for President in 1964, was considered an arch conservative, and he was opposed to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Conservatives held that states' rights were more important than civil rights and so if the State of Alabama wanted to oppress black people, that was the State's solemn constiutional perogative.

    2) You criticize the sense of "scarcity" which you find inconsistent with Conservatism.
    Let me remind you of a brilliant conservative economist who said that a certain type of businessman was the lord of scarcity.
    I am referring to David Ricardo. He was all for private enterprise, but he said that a certain type of businessman would engender scarcity and poverty. That man was the landlord. He said that land is finite. Ricardo said because land was finite, landlords would always work against economic growth as more people and more economic activity would mean higher rents. In New York, in the past three decades, real estate prices have risen much, much, much faster than wages.

    Perhaps Mr. Brooks does not like the idea of scarcity, but he is very much in love with an economic system which aides and abets people who exploit scarcity.

  100. I find this column strange, in that it flies in the face of the many contradictions to this scacity-warrior way of thinking. Clinton, with her theme of "Stronger Together", actually won three million more votes than "Make America Great Again". While there are certainly a minority of Americans , mostly hard core Republicans, that find themselves in the "scarcity-warrior" category and support Trump, polls estimate that 55% of Americans oppose this view. Hard line legislators don't really represent the majority of Americans on many issues of the day, who often support compromise and collaboration (witness the low ratings Congress gets among Americans). There is certain a danger that the current minority will become the majority, but at this moment in time it is very unclear which way Americans will go in the future. The next election will be a real test as to whether Americans will continue to support a scarcity-warrior perspective or a very different view of the future. It's much to early to make a judgment.

  101. Also 1990s: the rise of 24/7 cable news cycle and the advent of the internet, much greater forces than Yugoslavia. The dissolution of borders brought along with it the increasing income disparity, helped along by 30-40 years of Reagan-like economic and regulatory policies that put business before people.

  102. So, David Brooks is now imagining a "post-Reagan" era without New Gingrich and the Contract on America? Or is he merely trying to repress his own participation in it, having seen too late where it leads?

  103. Remind me which party actively espouses multiculturalism, reaches out to people with different backgrounds, and believes that progress is a good thing? Because that seems to be a rejection of exactly the sort of tribalism Brooks is decrying. But, of course, he can't write a column that admits it's not a pox on everyone's houses.

  104. David's essay, gloomy as it is, is more optimistic than it has a right to be. We have years ahead of us to see the hate-fueled politics of the extreme right wing grind away at any sort of decency in the body politic. And the left, if it has to fight back on the same terms the right fights on, it will no longer be a liberal democratic force.
    And, David, how silly of you to blame the hugely pregnant budget deal on the Dems; that the Republicans had to give into the enormous budget because the Dems wanted a DACA vote. They voted for a 1.4 Trillion so called tax reform bill that mostly went to wealthy and corporations, with no help at all from the Dems.

  105. Seems like too neat a story to me. On what planet was the GOP ever a place where people should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin? And when was being an evangelical not, at its core, about the divine right to run segregated private schools?

  106. I agree wholeheartedly. Let's begin by stop calling them the GOP. There is nothing Grand or Ole about this Party. No, it is something caustic to this country's very soul, its democracy.

    Yet this party remains undefined.

    It's a plutocracy buoyed by a base tragically immersed in the fear of immigration. It's their come from behind victory and subsequent self righteousness of entitlement that spurs their nationalist fervor even higher.

    Real Republicans, like you David and others who write columns in this paper, are often just as clearly disturbed and dismayed by this administration as liberals are. This is not the fiscal conservationism Republicans traditionally avowed, and more so, not the democracy they also seek.

    I think these two forces, the sane left and right, need to begin real dialogue regarding the state of the nation. Even if talk is just academic, we need to work together, make compromises and do what we need to do to tamp down what a minority of America did to put this unnamed party in power.

    I think it starts with constructively naming them. We all see very clearly now the "Tea Party" was just a cover. Their real agenda is now quite clear. They just needed a Messiah to bring them there.

  107. I do not understand much of what you are saying, you
    always have been too high falutin for the likes of me
    Mr. Brooks. I always felt you lived in a more rarified
    world than I do. To me, it seems very simple. Get
    money our of politics. Stop letting legal bribing
    go on by corporations,the Koch brothers, the
    Mercers and such. It used to be a crime did it not?
    What is so bad about supporting the progressives who will
    not take corporate donors and who, gasp, can
    actually envision us having single payer health care
    and pie in the sky free college and
    a living minimum wage. I weep when I read
    Canadians and the Norwegians feel really sorry
    for us with our health care. I ache with
    the thought that those two countries as well
    as nine other countries with health care for
    all never worry about going bankrupt saving a
    family member's life. Or the many deaths which
    will occur here because of no health care. I
    worry very much about the pain killer addiction
    started and encouraged by the legal drug lords
    murdering our people, you know the gateway
    drugs, and trump cutting 95% of the budget
    for help in kicking the habit and it gets even
    better with Kelly Conway running the program
    now and her answer is to just say "NO".Big Pharma
    is the biggest briber of all. So I say research
    the candidates who will not be bought, vote
    for them in the primaries. How wonderful
    to have an honest government made
    up of both parties or more. The wealthy have
    enough they will be fine. Somebody tell them.

  108. The left is playing defence, and is losing. The right holds all the power and what they want to do with it is rotten to its core: race batting while concentrating all power into the hands of the oligarchs. This is not what democracy looks like.

  109. Mr Brooks --

    As usual, by distributing "blame" for (or locating the origin of) the disintegration of the spirit based on abundance and communalism equally between Dems and GOP, you enable (and indeed are an integral part of) the relentless degradation of the fact-based discourse needed to correct this awful erosion. It is demonstrable that policies engendering greater equality and sharing abundance create better conditions for all ... the greed and dishonesty of the contemporary GOP are breath-taking and vile and devastating to our societies' and our planet's well-being. This does not mean every far-left proposal has merit, but to posit a symmetry in the culpability is a poison unto itself. Please evaluate your reflexive they said/they said ethos. It burns our collective soul. And yours too.

  110. Perhaps the most blameworthy people will turn out to be those who understood the calamitous nature of the gathering collapse and quietly pontificated instead of raising the alarm. Interesting how the liberal tendency to impatience with unacceptably vicious dogma and policy somehow gets equated with the very viciousness of those policies. No, the time is coming when people of conscience will be judged by how loudly they protested this empty, kleptocratic authoritarianism, not by how finely they calibrated their predictions of its consequences.

  111. David, the issues that you have raised about the Republican Party are true, but it is false equivalency to put conservatives and liberals at the same level of blame. The Republican Party—as you have suggested— has abondoned all its traditional principles, has veered to the extreme right, and worst of all, they have adopted discrimination, lying and deceipt as its strategy. That is why a whole lot of reasonable conservative intellectuals have abondoned the party.

  112. The "scarcity mentality" took hold because scarcity, for most of us, is the new reality.

    Brooks apparently wants to fight the scarcity mentality through a new political party based on an "abundance mentality" -- which apparently consists of tired old platitudes about "dynamism" and "entrepreneurs."

    Here's a better and simpler idea: If you want to combat the scarcity mentality ... end scarcity.

  113. I suspect that David Brooks has got half right here. The deepest message of the 2016 election is that Trump lost by _only_ 3 million votes - that he continues to enjoy the large degree of support that he does, and that a very large minority of voters continue to compromise their moral and intellectual integrity as a pledge of loyalty to Trump - all this represents a deep, deep aberration of the liberal democratic project. It won't be remedied with political bandaids. New political parties are not the answer. Or not enough of an answer. I suspect the way forward lies in re-thinking the entire political structure and the means by which we, as a society or as a union of independent societies, go about forming policy for the management of public goods. The problem is the politicians. They are supposed to 'represent' us, but they are, in fact, most often craven, spineless, and self-interested. We must conceive of a system that removes them from the equation.

  114. I am so tired of extremists on the left and on the right. I see them as basically the same kinds of people, with the same kinds of thinking. And their fights are hurting those of us in the middle (where most of us actually are)

    People who watch Fox News solely and who read the Huff Post solely don't get it---they are the same people psychologically and in terms of their values.

    The biggest disappointment, in my opinion, is Evangelical Christians. They have lost, totally, the message of Christianity and have simply adopted the far right ideology that could not be any less Christian.

  115. Our primary system is destroying our democracy. Closed primaries promotes the clash of extreme conservative vs extreme liberal. Open primaries may be our only path to salvation, and the moderation of our politics.

  116. The worst thing about Trump is his promotion of anti-science. It has become a kind of anti-matter that seems to annihilate rational discourse.

  117. Or: we have already passed the last exit. Those who once claimed to cherish the democratic way of life have realized that they cannot have the United States of Straight Christian Whiteness that they want in a democracy ... and therefore democracy has to go. This implicit understanding pervades their willingness to weaken democratic institutions through voter suppression and gerrymandering, their see-no-hear-no-speak-no-evil approach to this administration and their willingness to fall down before King Cheeto. Sure, this is a "clan warrior" thing, but that doesn't mean those who know better will walk away.

    Why? Because there's no binding reason for the would-be plutocrats of the world to be particularly wedded to democracy. Democracy lets sufficient numbers of undeserving Takers rob the deserving Makers blind; why would any good objectivist be especially enthusiastic about that? Better to place power where it belongs: in the hands of the wealthy (hence worthy) few. Align yourself with the most clannish forms of the church; preach the Prosperity Gospel; throw the xenophobic masses some red meat from a brown body. Tell the nostalgia-stricken how much better they are than all those OTHER people, and they'll not only play foot soldiers to plutocrats but give up virtually every right they have as long as they can deny it to someone undeserving at the same time.

    It's an ancient game. Prejudice is nurtured and fed, because it serves someone's power.

    These clans serve masters.

  118. Whistling in the wind, David. I think it's a faint hope that change will come from "those who cherish the democratic way of life": it's more likely to be a violent upheaval from the majority who have been ill-treated by those in power. I'm 74 & have seen nothing but self-serving hypocrisy in the GOP since I came of voting age.

  119. The scarcity mindset may be dominant among the 37% of Americans who are Republicans. But why David do you assume that it is dominant among all Americans?

  120. The left feels the need to pulverize the right? The left is intellectually intolerant? Really? It appears to me, rather, that the left is co-opting the right. I now see the left wringing its hands over the deficit, traditionally a core concern of the right. I hear the left warning of threats to the rule of law, traditionally another important value of the right. When I hear the left expressing skepticism over building a thousand-mile wall, I could almost swear I’m hearing a conservative realist warning against monumentally hubristic governmental undertakings. I am beginning to wonder if “left” and “right” are even meaningful categories any longer in American politics.

  121. There, you said it, you actually said it. Our type of democratic republic is broken, despite the best efforts of the founding fathers, who couldn't possibly foresee instantaneous worldwide communications which could be manipulated instantaneously, and the invention of weapons of mass annihilation. If the two-party system crumbles, the United States must quickly evolve to a parliamentary system of democracy to remain viable.

  122. You write, "Republican politicians have had to say goodby to most of the pillars of conservatism: ... the idea that people should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin."

    It has been an awfully long time since that last idea -- stated in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, no less -- has been anything like a pillar of conservatism in the US; certainly of Republican politics. Having read your stuff for years, I can't believe you threw it in with mischievous intent, but what in the world were you thinking?

    Even after the advent of the Southern Strategy, there were undoubtedly many Republican politicians who were not more racist than the general population. Some may have been active proponents of the above idea -- individually. But a pillar of conservatism? I wonder if this is a veiled reference to opposing race-based affirmative action.

    Your own conservatism is, I recognize, more admirable than that of the Republican Party. But we're talking party politics here, aren't we?

    http://thefamilyproperty.blogspot.jp/2018/01/the-voyage-to-restoration.html

  123. Nearly 50% of the electorate are registered Independent now, and done with the two party system. Yes, i realize we're stuck with it due to the constitutional setup. Or maybe not - Bernie Sanders showed that it's possible to run on money raised from the grass roots. While the Repubs are probably still stuck with Trump in the forseeable future, and Dems are desperate enough to moot Oprah, I'd prefer to scrap the parties altogether - still waiting for Independent candidate(s) who can inspire enough of the otherwise disgusted and resigned to couches to give it a go.

  124. Oh, brother. The "abundance mindset" was nothing but a charade except for a limited audience - those who owned the abundance. There has been no change in anyone's philosophy. A broken middle class of gig workers-at-will with shrinking public benefits, on its knees before the absurdly rich - this is the conservative vision of America coming to maturity. All Quiet on the Vested Front.

  125. “Republican politicians have had to say goodbye to most of the pillars of conservatism: rule of law, fiscal discipline, global engagement, moral decency, the idea that people should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.“

    You’re kidding, right? The Republicans abandoned these long before Trump. He has just removed the pretense.

    The solution doesn’t have to be generational. 8 years of putting the Republicans out of office at local, state, and national offices will allow them to sort themselves out.

    Register and vote. Every election. Every office. We need to take back the government.

  126. Good thoughts but you're unable to fully connect the dots and answer the question of why the Republican party devolved into what it is today. (This is the failure David Brooks always makes.)
    Let me offer a theory: when you're essentially a minority party and your constituency shrinks every day, you have very few ways to gain and maintain power. So you turn to populist anti-democrats (who appeal to a large number of Americans) and you engage in underhanded means to gain power (take help from the Russians; be appalling unfair in drawing redistricting maps, etc.) and then you maintain it by starting endless wars that effectively immunize you against calls to rationalize our government expenditures by spending money on other causes than the military.

  127. Apparently Brooks believes Nixon’s southern strategy was not racist, nor was Goldwater’s vocal opposition (with Buckley’s endorsement) to civil rights. The GOP swallowed the purple Kool-Aid decades ago; now it’s just coming out the other end and the color has changed.

  128. "The scarcity mentality is eventually incompatible with the philosophies that have come down through the centuries."

    Yes, but you're 30 years too late. (Oops, how did that happen? By intent, perhaps?) Reagan started this with his public berating of "Welfare Queens." Instead of rolling up his shirtsleeves and attempting to do something about the underclass, just as Republicans today, he reduced taxes on the rich and ran huge budget deficits. Running deficits was done to increase public satisfaction with government to offset the anger that would have happened had he simply reduced taxes on the rich and also cut services for the middle class and poor to balance the budget. It's all about given $$$ to the rich. That's it. Get clear everyone.

    Trump is the fulfillment of this blaming of identity groups for government problems.

  129. The problem with your argument is that Republicans willing went along for the ride because they value power over principal. It's a problem they have had for a while. If they had been truly interested in the welfare of their constituents, they would have worked with President Obama and might have accomplished a great deal of good. Instead, they further poisoned the political atmosphere. I find far less credence with your evaluation of evangelicals, many of who have never been moral. Strong supporters of the death penalty, gun rights, eliminating safety net programs, and lowering taxes on the wealthy, I'm not sure where they get their religious guidance, but it isn't from the teachings of Christ. Say what you will about liberals, but at least they are interested in the welfare of others. I cannot say the same about conservatives, who have long played the fear and race card. Trump is simply the culmination of these efforts. I do not know what he will do to the liberal ideology, but he will destroy the Republican party.

  130. I agree that the anti immigrant rhetoric in the USA (a real disappointment to my liberal European friends who always saw America as the benevolent generous one) and Europe has stirred up a scarcity mentality. However, we must remember that Hillary won the popular vote and she was not anti immigrant, in fact her campaign slogan was Stronger Together.

    There is one line in the column that made my blood boil. It is this one: "But Trump has fatally entwined it with his constant race baiting. Republican politicians could have denounced the race baiting but remained silent. They allowed themselves to become fellow travelers to bigotry, and spoiled their own cause."

    The Republicans started down this pathway after the Democrats under Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act with their Southern Strategy and appeal to prejudice against blacks in the Southern US. Now these states vote solidly Republican, a shameful payoff for that strategy. Trump rode into the presidency on that horse, anti black prejudice, with his loud fulminations against Obama as not American, not even born here but in Kenya. What is this but blatant prejudice and a shameful treatment of the first black president. I did not hear Republicans clearly denouncing this birther movement, in fact their silence encouraged it. I see Trump as the "chickens" of these anti black dog whistles of the Republican Party "coming home to roost". The Republican Party should apologize and make amends for this policy.

  131. David,
    Clearly, the need for something new has been around for a while. Greenspan and Bloomberg are two notable figures that have brought this up in recent memory.
    We both know that the Ds & Rs will fight tooth and nail to marginalize, if not eliminate (a) rising voice(s) as they will be deemed threats to their well established franchises. From my perspective, the Ds & Rs have morphed into nearly unrecognizable beasts, shades of their former selves. Frankly, I do not know what each party stands for anymore as each appears to seek instantaneous, if not sooner, gratification.
    David, you may wish to have the NYT consider the question: What is the Grand Strategy for our nation? I challenge you to get your fellow journalists across our land to grapple w/ this same question.
    Until we meet again.

  132. Mr. Brooks I agree with you but it's too late for our generation. If we have any hope, it's for the ones that come way after us. We've already given the dispensation of our culture (can we call it that?) to corporate tech giants, the world financiers, and bio-engineers with no fundamental thought at all of any of the ethical restraints we should have imposed on them. The philosophy of Trumpism is simplistic, but it smolders with the pressure of an elementary force, of primitive emotions of fear. Its animus is basically racial. The other party is only half as better because of moderating tendencies, but its animus is intellectual snobbery. You're right, both sides are now thoroughly tribal. In the middle perhaps are those who strive to be reasonable, that is, not extreme. There would be your breeding ground. As for all the tears about the middle class, I'm waiting for a national voice to speak for our most vulnerable, the mentally ill, the chronic imprisoned, the generational poor, the disabled. Long Wait! But good luck to everyone, hard times are coming.

  133. No, David, what happened in a distant land does not explain what went wrong in the United States. Three bad things happened here: 1. By the end of the Clinton era, we had budget surpluses and hope. We should have used those surpluses to reduce our debt a little but mostly to help those citizens left behind in the intensified globalization of the market. Instead we got the Bush tax cuts, which transformed budget surpluses into gargantuan budget deficits and hope into anxiety. 2. We also got dragged into the Iraq War, a strategic disaster whose repercussions we still confront today. Americans drew away from the liberal internationalism of the postwar world, for many reasons, not least of which was the fact that tax-cuts-in-a-time-of-war were the main causes of the budget deficits that terrified Americans. 3. Republicans did not permit President Obama to fight the Great Recession effectively. How odd it is that you would not provide the kind of stimulus we needed in a 10%-unemployment economy that you would give to a 3.9%-unemployment economy. The new century dawned with a lot of hope, but now we live in the degraded darkness of the Conservative Revolution. You need to take a good, hard look at how we got here. It has nothing to do with Tito's passing, and everything to do with the conservative politics of the past 35 years.

  134. The Republican Party and its base are counter-revolutionaries intent on reversing the promise of freedom and liberty envisioned by the Framers. They bring to mind the "intermittent" democracies of Latin America, with their interludes of juntas and extreme right and left dictatorships. It is not far-fetched to say that America is a fair-weather, "intermittent" democracy as well, a classic New World country still. A sizable swathe of our people has never abandoned its self-arrogated colonialist zeal to subordinate everybody else to their politicized piety and social Timonism, in open defiance of the egalitarian intent of the Constitution.

    Charles de Gaulle had it right when he commented that "The Americans had their civil war, and they're still fighting it." In their minds, the slavers were not defeated, merely thwarted ad interim. Had they not sprung from the realm of the most marvelously rapacious freebooters the world had ever seen (even if the slavers own forebears had been subjugated by that colossus for centuries)? America then and now is taken by these marauders to be their property by right of conquest, which confers on them forever the authority to set in stone the bounds of our ethos.

    I refuse to capitulate to our Tories and kindred reactionaries. But I'm forced to recognize that we, like our origins, were never innocuous; rather, we were brought into being by a protracted, ravening imperialism that many of our compatriots still celebrate today.

  135. One of our two major political parties is descending into authoritarianism and the other is not. It should be an easy choice between the two, yet, Mr. Brooks, who has spent his lucrative career as a promoter of the Authoritarian-Curious Party, is telling us that BOTH parties are hopelessly toxic. Instead of joining Democrats to oppose the threat presented to the country by the actions of the Trump administration and the current GOP congress, he's trying to convince the readers of The Times to join his Centrist Obsession Party. In fact, this is the only way to save our democratic way of life! (Awfully convenient for David, huh?)

    Where's the constituency for this new party, you ask? Well, the percentage of Republicans who would join the COP would probably be very small. John Kasich got less than 15% of the Republican vote in the 2016 primaries, and he's only a "moderate" relative to Ted Cruz. A party that champions relentless moderation would naturally appeal more to Democratic voters, albeit still not enough of them to generate any significant political power. That means that this fantasy Third Party would ultimately be a political boon to Donald Trump and the GOP. I think David might consider this to be a trivial detail.

  136. Scarcity is the root of capitalism. There will NEVER be enough; one can never buy their happiness, joy or serenity. There is never enough of the material essentials of life: food, housing, opportunity, etc.

    Capitalism turns everything into a commodity, including the earth and life itself

  137. The underlying conditions of scarcity that are only going to get worse are your party's creation, David. They are the upward redistribution of more and more wealth into fewer and fewer hands, leaving less and less for more and more people -- the kind of wealth redistribution that your wealth-redistribution-hating party not only loves, but believes is their and their donors' natural right. So right, in fact, that the process deserves to be helped along by retrograde tax cuts, for example. Yet your party just abandoned its pretense of fiscal conservatism; could this ideological pillar be knocked over next?

  138. "Decent liberals and conservatives will eventually decide they need to break from it structurally. They will realize it’s time to start something new."

    That is, if the "snobby elites" -- both Republican and Democrats-- survive the steady right-wing build-up to armageddon.

  139. My grandson, in his thirties and living on the left coast, thinks both parties are corrupt and badly wants a new party. He may be correct.

    There is phony moral equivalence in Mr. Brooks' Jeremiad (for him, anyway). Most conservatives sold out to Trump, as Brooks points out. Liberals are still liberals, on the political barricades opposing Trump's all too obvious attempt to ethnically cleanse Dreamers and his various other schemes to undo the New Deal and our liberties.

    The liberals' problem is that they haven't been effective, a useless shut down of government, followed by a pre-emptive cave on the Dreamers. Yeah, the two year Congressional budget agreement was good for ordinary Americans but Trump's just released draconian budget takes away the gains. And his hemming and hawing on the Dreamers, in undeserved danger, reflects his intent to expel them and blame Democrats.

    So a new party, dedicated to clear principles and well defined programs would probably get a large following, just as the newly minted Republicans did in the
    years just before Lincoln's election. The question, to which I don't know the answer, do we have time for a new party before Trump crosses his Rubicon and undoes our constitutional system.

    It's no longer a Republic if we can't keep it, as Franklin knew.

  140. The terrible things now happening in America are the Republicans doing. "After the financial crisis, the shrinking of the middle class, the partisan warfare...Resources are limited." Redistribution of Resources from average Americans to the wealthiest by Republicans is the problem, not limited resources. Ask the Koch's; thanks to Republicans, they're doing great. "Today’s Republicans are happy to trade away their fiscal principles if they can get their way on immigration, which is what they did in last week’s budget deal." The Republican Tax bill had nothing to do with immigration yet exploded the debt. What "fiscal principles" did Republicans trade away? None: you can't trade away what you don't have. "Stuck fighting" (alongside Trump) Republican politicians have had to say goodbye to most of the pillars of conservatism: rule of law, fiscal discipline, global engagement, moral decency, the idea that people should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin." 'Fiscal discipline" was just a cynical ploy to undermine Democratic presidents like Obama. No Republican is "stuck" fighting alongside Trump, they choose to enable him. Republicans don't fight racism, as in Nixon's Southern Strategy, they exploit it. Iran–Contra showed Reagan didn't care about the Rule of Law, neither did George W. Bush, who deliberately falsified intelligence about WMD's to justify a war. Your Republican Party is killing our democracy David; stop the justifications.

  141. The antithesis of the "scarcity mentality" is the belief that there are always new opportunities and fresh pastures over the next hill. It might be true that this belief is more sympathetic with "the philosophies that have come down through the centuries," but that doesn't mean it's an eternal truth. The energy shock of the 1970s should've been a convincing clue, but we we're lulled back into faith by a movie cowboy who made us believe in wide-open frontiers again.America has never been good at limits. Just like teenagers.

  142. The "scarcity mind-set" replaced the "abundance mind-set" because Ronald Reagan and his laissez-faire acolytes in the modern Republican Party directed virtually all of the economic abundance of the last forty-years to their investor-class donors while leaving everyone else to fight over the scarcity reserved for the rest of us. As usual Brooks ducks this obvious truth in favor of tired sociological bromides he mistakes for profound historical analysis.

  143. The scarcity mind-set pre-dated Reagan by a long shot. It's what gave rise to Reagan. This stuff doesn't appear in a vacuum. We live an increasingly abstracted existence, where we can only define ourselves in contrast to the other. As we pull farther away from our physical and social roots, and submit more and more to a virtual reality, this phenomenon only grows. We must--by definition--attack the other to assert our very existence. It becomes a literally life and death endeavor. No wonder facts no longer matter, huh?

  144. David Brooks must have missed the Gingrich revolution back home in the 1990s. That was the event that took a base of Reagan's government is evil credo and added the Democrats are even more evil. Gingrich forbade fraternizing with the enemy - aka, the Dems - for all the republicans and their staff, making the warrior us vs. them ethos of the Republicans easier to sell. Gingrich took the otherwise collegial legislative branch and broke it down in such a way the we now have a gathering of posturers and campaigners who are incapable of governing. Check the data, since Gnewt, we have become a nation of authoritarian populism, but the fault does not lie in the Balkans.

  145. "Even with all the structural barriers, we could end up with a European-style multiparty system."
    Now, that would be fun to watch !

  146. I live in Germany, it's not fun to watch but it does focus the participants on having to be collaborative over a period of time for the good of the country. Witness the recent grand coalitions. The GOP Freedom Caucus with its - take it or leave it - my way or the highway - approach would get them all removed at the next election. That would be declared "not serious".

  147. I'm not surprised that people are already pulverizing this article, proving his point. He's talking about a mentality that has infected America. I'm a liberal and I agree the Republicans are worse and started it. But to deny the the left has become doctrinaire and is starting to take up Republican's tactics is willful blindness.

    I agree with his premise that politics as a whole has sunk to a new low, and alternatives will be necessary if we don't want to continue this cold civil war indefinitely.

  148. The humanity has achieved its spectacular success, the domination of the natural world, for two main reasons. The first is our superior intelligence. The second is our commitment to social cooperation, unrivaled except for some social insects. Individually, we are weak. As a cooperating group, we seem almost irresistibly strong. But of course, without cooperation, we would still be occupying trees or caves.

    Therefore, we MUST cooperate with other humanity. This the fundamental bargain that defines us. Most of the complexities and tensions of our human world go back to this foundational truth, on which all else depends.

    The terrible error of the narcissist is not to understand this commitment of our species. They say (specifically, Trump said) that the supreme objective of a human must be to serve his own happiness and well-being. However this is only true if we continually understand that our well-being is absolutely dependent on our social cooperation, and therefore on the well-being of other humans, and more broadly, of the well-being of the living things that share our planet with us, and thus also of the health of the entire terrestrial ecosystem. Like it or not, we cannot survive alone -- we are linked to all the others of creation the.

    Love is apparently the force field that binds us all together. To deny this necessity betrays all that gives us life and meaning, a terrible treason, and suicide really, directed against us all.

  149. Precisely right, Wheaton.

    Like any natural system, individualism--experimentation, innovation, mutation--is a core feature of adaptation. But it is not an end unto itself. We are social creatures. At our very core. Perceiving liberty as a boundless, untethered pursuit of individual want is as grotesque as any cancerous mutation consuming its host. Our society has become that cancer.

  150. Your 1990's image of America was a fantasy. The industrial areas of the East and Midwest were already the Rust Belt. The Sun Belt was having a boom, but unions were never allowed. Around the country, de facto segregation was more common than integration, and racial hostility was common (e.g., Joe Arpaio as sheriff; and Harris County, Texas' high rate of death penalty convictions). Only the rich and very rich were doing well. However, with Reagan's grandfatherly style, and then the Tech Bubble and the Housing Bubble, the very rich convinced many people that the American dream was still available, even as they dismantled the policies that would have made it possible.
    I agree with you, however, that there is a change of philosophical environment. Almost no one buys the fantasy that Reagan preached. Some people have turned to neo-fascism and tribalism. However, that is not the only alternative. It is time for the American people to get over their fear of socialism. Socialism is not limited to the existing European forms. We can create our own form, which respects human rights and even encourages entrepreneurship, subject to policies and regulations designed to promote the general welfare. I do not think we are there yet, but I hope we are close, because everything coming from the Conservative side is the same old fantasy.

  151. TBH, the "philosophy" of abundance under Reagan always seemed like a marketing ploy to make us comfortable giving more to the rich. Democracy really died when the Republicans decided to vote as a block in Congress, rather than represent their constituents. Citizens United was just a final stake in its heart.

    But there is still a responsible conservative party. They're called Democrats.

  152. Scarcity, as any economist will observe, permanently defines the human conditon. Our wants, sometimes even our needs, exceed our resources. But the scarcity mentality does not always dominate our outlook. For three decades after WWII, a rising standard of living convinced Americans that each generation would lead a more comfortable life than its predecessor.

    By any objective standard, the material well-being of most Americans has continued to improve, but the optimism has evaporated. Globalization and the relentless advance of automation have eroded the sense of economic security enjoyed by earlier generations of the middle class. The emergence of a fabulously wealthy elite has reinforced the conviction that only a few can now fulfill the American dream.

    In politics this malaise has translated into what Brooks describes as a zero/sum mentality, which renders the kind of compromise essential to democracy very difficult to achieve. This contentious environment seems perfectly suited for Trump, whose insatiable hunger for personal wealth, power, and popularity make him the quintessential 'scarcity' politician.

    The GOP leadership endorses Trump, because their doctrinal belief that taxes on corporations and the wealthy always exceed acceptable levels makes them his kindred spirits. Brooks' confidence that they will abandon Trump because of his ethical lapses requires him to believe that they will sacrifice the one remaining principle that defines them as Republicans.

  153. American Democracy began its long illness in the Regan/Gingrich era, when an insidious ideology of mere party loyalty masqueraded as conservatism. It finally died when Mitch McConnell could not accept the election of President Obama and not a single Republican leader had the courage to behave like a statesman and stand up to McConnell for the sake of the nation.

    Now we have a TV reality personality and a self-aggrandized business man whose lawyers and accountants used bankruptcy and tax loopholes as his business model. We have a President who is seeking to become a dictator and a huge section of the electorate that does not see it. Trump will be the Nero of America.

  154. I wish that David Brooks would explain in more detail what he means by “scarcity mentality.” Is it that natural and financial resources are limited;therefore the borders are closed to outsiders?And what new kind of thinking is he suggesting to replace the “warrior mentally?”

  155. There is a big difference between liberals and conservatives David. Liberals, like conservatives of a long gone era, want to use the government to improve people's lives. Present day conservatives see government as the problem.

  156. If accepting sound, consistent and broad science - from my physician and for the planet - is intellectual intolerance, then so be it.

  157. This certainly should be the end of the GOP. As so many readers note, Brooks sets up a false equivalency between the two parties when really it is only the GOP that has strayed so horribly from democratic ideals and, indeed, any notion of representing and serving anyone but the wealthy. I don't know whether Brooks does this to justify the fact that over the decades he helped to create this monster by constantly turning a blind eye to the GOP's inexcusable greed and cruelty, or whether Brooks really can't see what road the GOP has been on since World War II, but most extremely since Reagan. He's either blind or obtuse. Take your pick, David.

  158. David missed the '60's and never will understand the "counterculture" mindset of that time, a mindset which persists in the Democratic base.

  159. David is the definition of out-of-touch elite. I will never forget his piece in one of the monthly mags (The Atlantic or New Yorker) after the supremes anointed Bush II. Brooks went looking for red and blue America - course, he didn't find it -in rural areas around D.C. I had to laugh. That was like looking for polar bears in Miami.

  160. Amen.

  161. Spend without Taxing, Spend by Borrowing. Reagan started it, now it is a Runaway train. As Thatcher said something about, those who cannot run a home on a tight budget...

  162. You, and PM Thatcher as quoted, are applying microeconomic theories to a macroeconomic situation. A federal budget isn't a family budget, and shouldn't be viewed as such. The Fed can (and sometimes should) create cyclical deficits in order to provide economic stimulus.

  163. "Even with all the structural barriers, we could end up with a European-style multiparty system."

    If only! Would that we were so fortunate....

  164. "Republican politicians have had to say goodbye to most of the pillars of conservatism: rule of law, fiscal discipline, global engagement, moral decency, the idea that people should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin."

    Republican politicians didn't have to say goodbye to many of those pillars because they never met them in the first place.

    Fiscal discipline? Compare the impact on the deficit under Republican vs Democratic administrations.

    Race neutral judgments? Mr. Brooks, are you sure you only spent the early 90's. You've seem to haves missed most of the last 40 years.

    Moral decency? Given how quickly the Republican leadership rolled over for the vile Trump, a strong argument can be made that any show of moral decency was just that: A show with no substance.

    "Eventually, those who cherish the democratic way of life will realize they have to make a much more radical break than any they ever imagined. "

    Conservative voters can start by voting for politicians who actually believe in democracy.

    Conservative pundits can start by looking at the pre Trump past honestly and dropping the knee jerk false equivalences in the present.

  165. "Conservative pundits can start by looking at the pre Trump past honestly and dropping the knee jerk false equivalences in the present."

    Yes. And ALL pundits can start by eliminating the terms "conservatives" and "liberals" from political speech. In the pre-Goldwater and pre-Murdoch media era, "Republican" and Democratic" served us well enough. We had two parties that loosely espoused different governance approaches but were, all the same, fairly united in serving this NATION -- not a particular ideology.

  166. About that scarcity thing: there is no scarcity among big corporations and the one percent donor class, especially after Trump’s tax “reform.” The average member of the Forbes 400, for example, has a net worth of 6.0 billion. And, thanks to Trump’s tax “reform,” the one percent is only going to get richer.

    That kind of money could buy a lot of school lunches. Class warfare, you say? Yes, and most of us have already lost.

  167. ...except that billionaires have the worst scarcity mindset of anyone. So odd, that the people with the most money are the most afraid of losing it - so afraid that they’re willing to sell their humanity for their own financial security.

  168. Under Socialism Yugoslavia was a peaceful and prosperous for decades, as was the multi-ethnic, multi-national Soviet Union. It was only with the destruction of the workers states that violent ethnic rivalries revived.
    Nationalists see society vertically--identifying with their tribe or state.
    Socialists look at society horizontally--identifying with their class, which transcends all national boundaries. That is why Marx said workers of the WORLD unite and founded the first International Workers Association.
    Nationalism means endless war, as capitalist nations battle for markets, resources and ever cheaper labor. Only Socialism can give us peace.

  169. The era from 1917 to the fall of the Berlin Wall was a disaster for democracy. Stalin managed to kill not only his own family members but millions of people.
    Dictatorship of brutal kind is the name of his rule not socialism. It pays to study history.

  170. Simply put. Spot on!

  171. I suspect any of the millions who perished in Soviet gulags or Tito’s labor camps might disagree with your, ahem, rosy assessment.

  172. The political system in the U.S. is deeply disfunctional and at odds with modern demographics, modern economies, and today's challenges. It cannot be mended with mere rejuvinated political parties. A full restructuring is needed that, among other things, gives equal representation to the urban and productive regions and addresses the financial corruption of special interests.

  173. Yeah, I was happiest in the nineties. We could still imagine life before Reagan then. Now the consequences of Reagan's divides of ideology and inequality are so deep I don't think I'll live long enough to see us recover.

  174. Reagan was president in the 80's .. don't understand your comment.

  175. Fair question, Woo. Although Reagan was president in the 80s, the Clinton-era prosperity and tolerance of the 90s shielded the country from some of the long-term effects of Reaganism. It was possible to think that certain aspects of Reaganism were an aberration, the effects of which would diminish over time.

    With the rise of Trump, however, we see that a hateful kind of conservatism was a dormant virus that's mutated into a more virulent epidemic. Reagan may have not been as thoroughly horrible as Trump in every respect, but he laid the groundwork for identity politics (the history of which is usually gotten backwards: identity politics on the left is a response to white Christian nationalism) and for choosing an entertainer over a thoughtful, less actorly-to-watch leader.

    Again, my point was that in the nineties one could imagine Reagan was just a phase. This pretense was not possible in the Obama years except for the briefest basking in the glow up uplift and optimism at the very beginning--McConnell made sure that we never really got the Obama presidency the majority of us voted for. So the nineties was the last time I could feel optimistic about the country and our politics. And of course the seams in Clinton's presidency are all too ... visibly seamy now.

  176. I wish I could agree with your conclusion Mr. Brooks but unless and until money is removed from the political process, no matter how many parties, the same players will benefit. The rich and corporations will just spread their money in more places and we will have the same results.

  177. I think Mr. Brooks got part of this right: Republicans and their enablers (Fox News, etc.) push a message of fear and scarcity because it makes it easier to fleece people and persuade their allegiance. Their gospel is:
    * There's not enough
    * Government is the problem
    * You have the right to be angry (stay angry)
    * Others are to blame
    * Protect what's yours, carry a gun
    * Shun and distrust anyone who doesn't look and think like you
    * We're right because we're the true patriots and Christians
    * Lazy outsiders are to blame
    * Be afraid...be very afraid

  178. Yes, and that's their story and they're sticking to it. Discussing issues with them is like trying to herd cats.

  179. Ann -- you said it better in fewer words. Cheers!

  180. Jim Muncy,
    Just as I was beginning to run out of Presidents to name that my Republican acquaintance might like, he announced himself as a 'Reaganite'. This was of special interest to this American because it was in time when an economic mind started writing his essays on The Economy and Public Finance.

    Our office knew three weeks before that a Landslide was in the works but still we hoped that Carter would lead. The first essay begins in August 1983. 'The Economic Recovery now under way appears to have increasing strength and momentum. The stock market has moved up dramatically, interest rates have come down significantly, consumer spending is up, inflation is down, production is down...', followed by two explanations.

    The above is entitled 'Time for a Change', and reporting that for those of Us who want a change, it is going to be an uphill battle.

  181. Bravo Mr. Brooks. It is arguably too soon to wager whether the US ends up with a European-style multiparty system but the conversation has to begin. As you suggest, once a critical mass realizes the untenable two-party system we are so thoroughly in the process of dissecting, or more precisely, ripping apart, the path forward will be much clearer. We mature and re-learn compromise of days-gone-by, or embrace a brave new reality and follow in the steps of our Western European colonizers, where compromise is no less brutal, but seems to be an evolutionary step humankind cannot skip.

  182. Democracy is still in the experimental stage - why not try more than a 2-party system?

  183. I recall that the Clinton Era 1990's were the time of the largest and widest economic expansion in world history. Why hasn't David Brooks mentioned this?

    All of our leaders have been flawed. If we are to learn from history, t would be helpful if David Brooks were a bit more clear on the accomplishments of Clinton and a bit more clear on the failings of Reagan/Gingrich.

  184. I guess you have forgotten the neverending scandals of the Clinton era and the YUGE bald-faced lie he told the public? I don't think this is the right time to be pointing out all the good stuff and accomplishments of Clinton, particular when we have a lying predator in chief in the WH. Just don't go there, got it?

  185. ah, because the internet bubble ended so badly

  186. Brooks also manages to ignore all the "downsizing" of the nineties that left many a middle-class middle manager out of a job in their 50's. He ignores the insecurity and stress related to that and its continuation ever since in one guise or another. Folks, it isn't just the coal miners who have been left behind. It is the editors, newsroom staff, publishers, and their like in multiple industries that are left behind. They are silent because they are ashamed of having to live on their wives' earnings and their own sense of helplessness. Now, the GOP is going to make matters worse with their new budget.

    The GOP motto: Never let a good crisis go to waste; crush them when they are down.

  187. Very good points. It does feel like we live in a time of "scarcity". Perhaps this is a fear of falling from the great heights we have achieved. Then recall that the world population has grown substantially in the past 30 years.

    "They allowed themselves to become fellow travelers to bigotry, and spoiled their own cause."

    Liberals have been accused of much the same, starting with "political correctness". Consider a simple example, discussion of birth control within the greater context of reducing population growth. Is this a valid point of discussion? Some liberals do not think so, on the grounds that developed countries are responsible for most of the resources consumed in the world. In addition to the absence of good logical thinking, liberalism in its alternate pro-individualist definition poses a challenge when radical solutions are required. Many large problems appear to require top-down thinking and restriction of individual freedoms, in order to "get things done". Think China and its population bomb problem. We speak of the personal cost of the one child policy, but was it justified?

  188. When birth control is widely available, it produces a low birth rate. China's one child policy, a policy forced upon its populace, created its own problems. The best solution is to let women control their own reproduction.

  189. Brooks has often spoken of polarization, political tribalism and other divisive forces. I would like to propose a clarifying exercise for him. That is, to make a list of issues and ideas that belong to these antagonistic groups. I, for one, would like to know which issues he considers extreme in each group.

  190. I find your proposal to be absurd. The problem is that we have an extremist authoritarian cult that completely ignores the extremes and hypocrisies of its leader. And then there is everyone else spanning a wide spectrum who can only stand back and watch this circus in horror. There is no balance, there are no polar opposites in this game. There are the Trump fanatics, mindless and captured by the cult of personality and Fox News propaganda and wantonly ignorant of facts, and there is everyone else. They've created this divide. They want this divide. Everyone not like them is the enemy, and Putin is their friend.

  191. Mr. Brooks is bang-on with the abundance vs scarcity metaphor. Scarcity is all about “if you’re not with me, therefore you’re against me”.

    When only 2 large parties dominate the political spectrum, they should represent broad interests. In the US the polarization is such, and overall discussion and debate in the public realm so absent, that the parties have become caricatures of themselves and what they represent, narrow and polarized. This has accelerated during the last campaign.

    Political parties in democracies should ideally act together to create a compromise, maybe even seek balance between opposing and differing views. This “bipartisanship” is now only a quaint memory.

    Without the benefit of independent political parties, that have broad representation engagement and support, power is relegated to cliques that pursue their own interests. Or it will be monopolized by a party that will seek to suppress dissent, use propaganda and dispense patronage to friends. 

    Multi-party proportional representation systems seem to provide a better opportunity for broad interests, with even the smaller voices being heard.

    A Representative Government, as envisioned by the Founders in the US, should have a capacity for debate and deliberation, and allow to take into account individual interests in a larger political spectrum. That is unfortunately no longer the case.

  192. The Republican Party of Reagan and after was the party of the Southern Strategy, welfare queens, and government that did no good and only was the vehicle for the takers to mooch off the makers. The marketplace was where the makers found their abundance, and the takers would change their orientation to makers as soon as the safety hammock was cut down. The abundance was threatened by big government and its entitlements, which would cripple the economy of abundance and turn it into an economy of scarcity.

    The scarcity mind-set came from fear of the results of big government (a fear nurtured and spread by Republicans) and by the experience of many of the rise in inequality, which is lived by those at the top as abundance and by everyone else as scarcity. The rise in inequality was fought for by Republicans, who called it other things, and it has been won. Income has been massively redistributed from what it was in say 1960 or 1970, and the beneficiaries of this redistribution (which they called natural) were the rich.

    The Wall Street Journal has been working for decades to get rid of the shared abundance of the New Deal and get back to the abundance for some and scarcity for most of the Gilded Age that is the more normal state of mankind. The scarcity mind-set goes with greed, and greed is good. Just ask the Donald.

  193. It started well before Ronald Reagan - look at Richard Nixon's campaign in 1968.

  194. Can i just say that the short term benefits that you note as part of the joyous 1990s was just a harbinger of the long term malaise. If you want to credit St. Reagan and the Republican party for these outcomes in the 1990s, you should also credit them for having sown the seeds of the future malaise that we are now experiencing.
    Let me begin with "the financial crisis, the shrinking of the middle class, the partisan warfare" that you attribute to a "scarcity mind-set." No, it is not an issue of this or that mind-set; it is squarely the policies of St. Reagan that set in motion these outcomes.
    C'mon Mr. Brooks, you can admit to that much, can't you?

  195. Right.
    "The government is the enemy" started with Reagan and reached full flower with the Gingrich/Limbaugh surge of Brooks's golden '90s.

    You can play the equivalency accordion all you want, but most of the band consists of loud distorted guitars cranked to 11 on Fox News.

  196. Bravo for brilliantly distilling recent global history and what's happening to our country right now to the confines of a column.

    Unusual that this paradigm shift has come in the face of a continued leap in global abundance. But the uneven division of the spoils of that leap has certainly added to the resentment fueling the shift more than would a downturn equally distributed. That's human nature.

    The right conservative position is to use the abundance to reverse, or at least temper, the uneven distribution without damaging the capitalist engine. A simple and obvious example is to phase in means tests for entitlements like Medicare. Or to use an actual recent example, to increase the child tax credit as was recently done by Senators Rubio and Lee.

    The other reality is that the federal government is going to eventually need more revenues to handle our increasing debt load. We're going to need more taxes and those taxes will have to come from those with the means to pay it. That, too, has to become a conservative position. To again be the political party of fiscal probity.

  197. Bravo for the narrative that denies corruption, institutional racism, religious bigotry, misogyny and excuses Republicans with an appeal to the ethereal all in one column.

  198. 'There you go again' to quote Reagan; earlier 'A rising tide floats all boats' from JFK. This affinity for one's Political Party is condemning us to face a National State of Emergency. A friend in The South writes of the uneasy Stock Market. No time to panic, but keep an eye on the Financial Global Markets is one reply.

    Not all of us are 'walking encyclopedias'. We are entitled to an opinion, but not to our own facts. Naomi, a long-term dweller in this rural state, also a widow, we go to vote together at our Town Library with home-made cake, without sharing our political choices.

    While Time is one of our most precious commodities and should not be abused, Spring shows signs of revival but whether the Now can be changed, and the Future look brighter, a lot depends on us and this requires work. This is not the time to sing Kumbayah, a weeping song brought to us by people in parts of Western Africa, nor the time to sing a welcoming song around the camp fire.

    David Brooks has been sounding the alarm for many a Spring past on The State of our Nation and now, or never, is the time to act and remain strong and steadfast in the Face of 'Our' crumbling Foundation, Our uneasy Society, and Constitution now at risk of failing.

  199. Well, so long as David’s prediction results in everyone becoming some form of Republican, I could get on board with that. But his message is more nuanced than that.

    Not that Trump saw this consciously as his “mission” (largely because it’s not typically discussed on a fairway), but the truth is that he doesn’t “lead” the Republican Party. He “leads” a discontented center-right in this country fed up with years of our federal government accomplishing nothing and our elites discovering new heights of political correctness that increasingly condemned THEM of being what one candidate called a “basket of deplorables”. Oh, and that cohort also included more than a few Democrats. Since being elected, though, he has listed decidedly right because he must break that political logjam with a Republican Congress that is fragile because of the closeness of the U.S. Senate and the presence of just enough Republican Wobblies to be bothersome to forward movement. While they started slowly because of their early failed focus on repealing ObamaCare, they have since managed to start getting things done again as a government for the first time since 2011.

    David consumed his column by pillorying Republicans generally and Trump specifically, without bothering to note that we ARE moving forward again after so long, and that some of that forward movement isn’t so one-sided – Republicans and Democrats are gearing-up to negotiate a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill with no preconditions.

  200. In Mr. Brooks analogy you are a warrior, carrying the flag of your clan. I propose you break ranks and climb a nearby hill and look over the whole landscape. The polarizing issues are all parochial. In every civilization has rich people that run things; foreigner are suspect; the poor have no power. What had been different about our culture compared to other places? That is the question to ask not who gets credit for economic expansion. I do appreciate Mr. Brooks continued attempt to understand our world in an more enlightened less tribal way. He has a conservative bent, nonetheless, the view is from the hill not the trench.

  201. Mr Luettgen, as usual you have replied to yourself to make the point that Trump is the Messiah and we should all get on board the MAGA train to the promised land. If the tax bill and current budget won't get you off this wreck of an administration, nothing will.
    This administration and its apologists are hellbent on putting America on a path to the poorhouse, or at least 99.5% of us. The results won't be known for a few years but we are all going to pay!

  202. Nonsense: “Donald Trump isn’t the face of our American future but of an historical discontinuity… – a discontinuity like our civil war, like our “New Deal” – after which we can re-embark on a more positive American path.” It is grotesque to equate Trump with Lincoln or Roosevelt. These and some others like them were heroic presidents who led our country through immense difficulties and offered vision and hope: Lincoln’s “with malice toward none, with charity for all”; Roosevelt’s “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” These words are from their inaugural addresses. Contrast them with what we heard in Trump’s address.

    Trump is the face of so much from our past that is wrong. He commits malfeasance, greed and gluttony; he revives bigotry, prejudice, and, yes, racism, and a host of other social ills. He advocates malice and inspires fear. He would take us backward, into a destruction of our accomplishments, away from all of what we may construct from the possibilities envisioned in our future.
    If there is a likeness in Trump it is too fellow demagogues Huey Long and Joe McCarthy and a closeness as well to demagogical haranguers like Ailes, Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, Beck, and O’Reilly.

    Delusion: “he’s done his work in that regard, and forced more bipartisanship in Congress.” He’s done nothing. Whatever Congress is accomplishing it is done without Trump.

    What is properly dismissed is any notion of a connection to reality in contorted rationalizations of Trump.

  203. I must say that we are living in a definitive era. I would call it the time of the Grand Reconsideration. The symbolic and economic momentum of World War 2 is fast fading away. The righteous optimism of the New Deal and the Civil Rights Movement is also becoming a distant memory. And yet people in power want to cling to past victories as a way of justifying the people's consent for them to govern. This staleness of leadership is what led us to this low point in the American spirit.
    But I think this is a great time to reconsider what we are and how we want to be as a nation and as a society. In high school we studied the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. One of his essays that left a mark on me is the one about being a non-conformist. Such a person questions everything he or she sees or hears and evaluates it according to one's own beliefs and a sense of natural law. If something is disagreeable, set it aside. If you agree, embrace it and make it part of your philosophy. But don't just blindly accept someone else's views and beliefs out of intellectual laziness. I think people are doing just that; saying I'm a Democrat/Republican, Conservative/Liberal, just to have a position. Maybe they do this to avoid the pain, confusion, loneliness, and WORK it takes to fully formulate and defend a personal philosophy.
    As we see these old parties become moribund in trying to recapture their own pasts, we should all be reconsidering what we want our future to be and how we want to shape it.