The Future of American Politics

After tribal war, the politics of weaving.

Comments: 212

  1. It's corporations versus the people. Corporations have managed to take over the entire Republican party. The likes of Brooks give this take over elitist legitimacy. Most people agree with each other, and oddly, most agree with the Democratic party ideals and practices. Yet, many vote for Republicans because they think they are all individualists.

  2. @Fourteen14 Many Democrats are thoroughly owned by corporations. Chuck Schumer comes to mind. But many are not. The Left has a few months to mobilize workers to vote for their interests over the interests of the global bosses so that we can vote for candidates that are not owned. Otherwise the global corporate coup will be completed by Trump.

  3. Dear Mr. Brooks, Unfortunately, mankind is now in another on of its dystopian spirals. We saw the last free election in 2012--we have now officially morphed from an oligarchy into a dictatorship with the help of news propaganda, global warming and overpopulation. Voting Republicans out of office from here on in will not be an option; so much for comparing candidates and philosophy. If you think you cannot believe what your are hearing and seeing during this impeachment trial, consider it a preview of more insanity and suffering to come.

  4. @FrankS It's the end of empire. We are rotting from the inside out. It' been this way since Caeser was a pup.

  5. @FrankS Dystopian spiral? You need to cancel your Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime subscriptions. Clearly you've been overdosing on their dystopian shows. Even if Trump is re-elected, the senate will convert and Trump's influence will be negligible. In another 5 years we can start repairing the damage he's done and re-establish our relationships with the rest of the world. Politically and economically.

  6. @alabreabreal In five years?! Oh my friend, that’s going to be too late. It’s already too late.

  7. History regarding Sanders' ability to collaborate is at odds with your argument, David. As a town mayor, he build a coalition that changed Burlington. Over the years, he's had to find the middle ground between the two sides with amendments. He's worked with Mike Lee on the Veterans' Bill. He's responsible for getting community health centers into the ACA. Your rather shallow view of Sanders is a pretty run-of-the-mill analysis based on a mistaken perception.

  8. @allseriousnessaside Republicans are expert at false equivalences.

  9. @allseriousnessaside thank you! The shallow labels pasted on Bernie in this comment section, supplied free of charge by Fox News, are breaking my heart.

  10. In his opening paragraphs, our Mr Brooks summarizes the basic stance of conservatives, Republicans, Libertarians, that is, the political position of his chosen party, and condemns it. Then he labels it "Liberalism", which it is the exact opposite of. Stand up for what you support, Mr Brooks - Conservative Republican Unrestrained Capitalist Individualism. The GOP has embodied this this ideology since Reagan; Mr Brooks has been on board with it since then. Mr Brooks, do you remember when President Obama decided to not pursue investigating and charging the members of the previous (Republican) administration with war crimes for lying us into forever war? Do you remember him reaching across the aisle to engage Republicans and have them participate in our government? THAT was Liberalism. Mitch McConnell, representing your conservative everyone for him/herself worldview, decided that sabotaging the United States and its Black president was his first order of business. THAT is GOP conservatism; a backwards ideology gone out of control. Rather than denouncing "Liberalism", denounce that which has earned denunciation by its actions over the past two decades: the Republican Party.

  11. @wcdevins Those people who lied us into the war into Iraq, all of them, should be in prison. Look at the cost in human lives and money. It is indefensible.

  12. Pretty sure Brooks was using the term Liberalism in it’s historical context, not the way we currently use it interchangeably with Progressivism.

  13. we started as a liberal democracy, trying to avoid factionalism and adopted the Electoral College and vetos. With political parties, that became obsolete and now extremism has cause dysfunction. liberalism in the traditional and historical sense is the answer. Republicans used to have many liberals and Democrats had conservatives who blocked progress. Reagan destroyed party cooperation by being against liberals and welfare. Republicans want welfare only for Republicans, votes only for Republicans, power only for Republican. David Brooks is a conservative liberal who thinks he is a Republican. There are good people in all large parties. About ten percent of people have serious psychological problems and cannot be trusted (including Trump).

  14. As one of those “super star performers” (which I guess is code for having a PhD in a tech field) living in a HCOL coastal city I can say definitively I DON’T WANT TO LIVE HERE. It is not fun watching my seemingly high paycheck disappear into paying for housing. I’d much rather have a bigger home, well funded schools and community services, less traffic, and a community neighborly vibe. However, the jobs my husband and I work within are here for now. Don’t blame us tech workers for the world created by those with far more wealth than us. Get other parts of the country to invest in tech hubs and we’ll move.

  15. "We don’t cooperate only to get things we want individually. Often, we collaborate to build shared environments we can enjoy together." This is an ethos that's not just forgotten but dismissed and ridiculed by the conservatives. It's the basis for social programs that they so deeply loathe and disdain. So if Americans want to actually live in a society where that value is actually honoured, it necessarily needs to confront and defeat the republican politicians standing in its way. Caring about the common good vs only looking to advance your own self interest are diametrically opposed values. The advancement of one necessitates the destruction of the other.

  16. I fully agree with Mr. Brook’s analysis and proposals( how could you not given our current political and cultural environment ). It’s too bad he still doesn’t have the intellectual honesty to attribute our poisoned politics to the obstructionist policies of the Republican Party that began with Gingrich and continue with McConnell and Trump rather than “all sides”.

  17. @David Gordon I fully agree with Mr. Brooks, too. However, I'm not convinced he has to become 'intellectually honest' (what is that anyway? Saying "I was wrong, I was wrong, I was wrong" over and over again to appease democrats?) in order to justify changing his opinion, coming to a new realization...and speaking out about it.

  18. The omission of the Republican Party's culpability in our "poison politics" begs the question as to how useful Brooks's analysis is. I submit that it's more of his self-serving, useless hot air, in which he gets to play the "polite pundit" without any hint of awareness that his constant what-aboutisms and tired (and tiring) false equivalences are, in fact, the problem, not the solution. The silver lining? At least he didn't use yet another column to tell us to vote for Bloomberg.

  19. @David Gordon Gee whiz - not long ago Uncle Dave wrote: “Liberal democracy is built on … the capacities of individual citizens…We democrats put faith in the idea that people know best how to run their own lives and that these individual choices can be woven into a common fabric.” But now he claims the opposite: “ If you base your political and social systems on the idea that the autonomous self-interested individual is the basic unit of society, then you will wind up with an individualistic culture that widens the maneuvering room between people but shreds the relationships and community between people.” Which is it? Adrift in boat on a sea of changing times with a compass that is stuck pointing to the nostalgia of the past, Brooks has lost his bearings. He has seen his conservatism fail as a foundation for democracy, seen it define “freedom” to refer to the individual and not the collective, seen it smear the “common good” as “socialism,” seen it demand education be ideological indoctrination rather than critical thinking, seen it promote theocracy over democracy, seen it cling desperately to “Western” white values and traditions, seen it produce climate change - and then its logical conclusion: King Trump I. He brings in the conservative Levin to back his argument, but gives no liberal perspective. Brooks will never own up to the damage his tribe has done, but instead continues to whimper that “both sides” are to blame for our predicament. Shame on Mr. Brooks.

  20. Well, sure. Get along. Work together. We’ve got more to bind us together than tear us apart. But how do we get there from here? To change, people and societies must want to. Right now, resentment and righteousness are stronger than that. We want to hurt the other and haven’t yet hurt ourselves enough. But we will, and when we do the recognition may dawn: We can’t keep going like this. The wake up call will come, sure as history turns. Question is, will we be listening?

  21. Actually, the one partial truth that causes even more harm, and the one at the core of your argument, is that one's dignity and self worth depends on the level of material success. That is as dangerous as it is false. Regrettably, it is shared by many.

  22. @G “’s dignity and self worth depends on the level of material success.” This is also the reason wars will never end.

  23. I'm a new university student and we are learning about the collaborative effort with enslaved African Americans at the vanguard of the abolition of slavery and an array of labor, religious and feminist (yes feminists back then) groups who allied themselves with black abolitionists to achieve the impossible, legal emancipation (a collaborative effort). The labor, religious and feminists joined the enslaved persons because they too suffered from the oppression of wealthy elites. When Thomas Jefferson deleted the anti-slavery language from the Declaration of Independence that he'd intended in the first place he did so to keep the 13 colonies united in the coming war for U.S. independence. He sacrificed his young man's ideals in favor of a different kind of collaborative effort. We all know how the story ends or should I say has continued. Apparently, there are all different kinds of collaboration. Ideally I'd love to see the wealthy elites collaborate with us (the majority; all of us; all "sides") U.S. citizens but I fear that because we seem never to learn to think of humanity in total first, the ultimate collaboration we're after will ebb and flow over time. Your move Mr. Pompeo and before you respond try to remember that we pay all of your salaries. Sincerely, Your bosses, We the People.

  24. @BB Michael Lind also calls for collaboration- he chooses the word "settlement." It's not surprising that people calling for such want the Other to give up some of what it has. That's fine with me. But as a door-to-door sales pitch one must admit it's not a catchy slogan.

  25. There are many terms are thrown around in this article not fully defined which leaves the supposition for answers given lacking. In the author's defense, having an elaborate treatise on the future of American Politics would take more words and space to argue the merits of each term inferred, progressive, pluralism, liberalism, Trumpian right, and individualism all of which is have many faces and facets. I would agree that the state of American Politics is fractured based on self-interest and disagreement which is obvious. The real difficulty for American Politics is that the leadership role of each individual Congressional member cannot stand on their own merits, only the merits of the political party which often is out-of-touch with the many societal cultures which reside in their constituency. The other problem is Congressional members tend to only listen to supporters which further divides the public. Due to the advent of negative campaigning and hatred of opponents politically, change is a pipe-dream at best.

  26. I read the column a few times, just to be sure. I am now convinced you are a die-hard Socialist. (weaving aside) It seems to me that column after column (from most pundits) seems to be labeling or putting people into neat little groups. Having said that & having used a label as well, we are ALL trying to make our way through this world by the best of our abilities. Many of us want families & the extra burdens and responsibilities that entails. All of us want our lives to be easier and with more benefits. We all are NIMBYs to a certain extent and become a little nationalistic (even at the local level) when we see Mr. and Mrs Jones getting ahead while you may be standing still. - and there is the rub. We see, feel and live injustices each and every day. They may be small (which might fester) or they may be large, where homes, futures or lives are lost. - And therein lies the rub as well. We do NOT have a system that cares (realistically or humanely) for all people the same. We have a system that is corrupt and influenced by money or power. None of us have really seen a true Socialist (or even Liberal for that matter) system in action that does the above. We get little snippets and crumbs here and there to assuage us or convince us that we are going in the right direction. It is not populist to want to have a better life, nor is it populist to want the same for thy neighbor. (regardless of who they are or where they come from) For now we keep getting the labels.

  27. @FunkyIrishman You identified a big issue. The notion of NIMBY and of being a little jealous of the Jones' good fortune. We need to get a little more outside of our own small world. We have all been conditioned to expect we can have it 'our way'. That we 'deserve a break today'. That somehow, simply because we're alive we are entitled. To pretty much everything. It just doesn't work that way. There is no system that cares humanely for all people in the same way, all the time. So, accepting that, what's the next closest thing? Definitely getting Trump out...that goes without saying. Hopefully electing a more moderate (gasp) president...either Republican or Democrat...who can undo the damage Trump has done and begin to set us back on the path to fiscal responsibility and repair our international relationships. It will take a while.

  28. I believe preserving and looking after the environment is the foundation of a social good, a space that's an antidote to our busy, stressed, fraught modern lives. How can I convince conservatives the merits of this common good, this requires cooperation and effort and a community minded outlook. This runs against a conservatives DNA.

  29. There will be no "acknowledgment that there is no dominant majority in America" until the Trump Administration is long gone.

  30. Humans can be cooperative with in-groups, but are absolutely vicious towards out-groups. This has been the case since hunter-gatherers, where most people died violently and wars and mini-genocides were commonplace (and our closest ancestors the chimpanzee does this too). This mentality has been dampened in modern times, but still exists--just see the Stephens op-ed today that essentially boils down to "might makes right." Individualism is not the natural state of mankind, but it is a necessary corrective to the tribalism that is the natural state of mankind. The moral progress of civilization is a progress towards ever greater individualism, where humans increasingly think of themselves and others as autonomous and equal individuals, rather than in-groups to cooperate with or out-groups to discriminate against and destroy. There's a good reason the world's most advanced societies tend to be individualistic, and that all societies get more individualistic as they become more developed.

  31. As the USA systematically destroys the Rule of Law and slowly deprive the poor and disadvantaged of food, medical and financial aid, I can now at last understand why they need gun to protect themselves.

  32. @Lachlan Sorry to tell you this bloke, but you don't have a dog in this fight. Not as long as your country's leadership stand by and support fossil fuel interests while the land is on fire. Concentrate on your domestic affairs.

  33. please enlighten me on the "whole Michel Foucault legacy"

  34. How about reparations for the damages that many corporations have done to the people? If they are truly classified as people, shouldn't they have to make the nation whole when they have damaged it?

  35. Politics? Dead The constitution? On life support The bill of rights? Currently being crushed under trump’s heel with assistance from republicans in congress. Special mention to Dershowitz for his preposterous comment on what the national interest is. Tyranny is what we have. Dictatorship is our new government. Just wait. The 2020 elections will be canceled. Politics is no longer a factor.

  36. @Steve Ell If the election looks close, indeed, just wait, Iran war,then as you say, election canceled. If the election is held, win or lose, Trump will never concede for a peaceful transfer. Then what?

  37. Let’s face the facts. The GOP is the party that will lie cheat and steal to win. When they win we get thins like the Great Depression (Hoover), Joe McCarthy and distraction of civil society and many lives through lies, ‘Tricky-Dicky’ Nixon the original criminal president, Regan the ‘deficits don’t matter’ president, Bush 1 recession, Bush 2 lied about Iraq and few million civilians and scores of USA troops died and 20 years later the ME is broken beyond repair and more dangerous for us then ever and of course the Great Recession. Trump brings a who new level of corruption with twist of Russian mob money after loading the popular vote 3 million. Over 16,000 lies later we have become a joke and punchline far the shiny city on mountain. Time to learn Mandarin children.

  38. @Tim You forgot to mention Spiro Agnew, who was poised to step into the presidency. We had two criminals at the top of the ticket and we'll never know if Nixon took him on as VP knowing full well what he'd been doing in Maryland while governor. We tend to forget Agnew's criminality because he was given a sweetheart deal to just leave the building quietly.

  39. @Tim The fact is you need to vote instead of whining about historical inequities.

  40. @Tim blame the ignorance and apathy of the American voter.

  41. Is reality too hard to bear, that we absolutely must hear Mr. Brooks layman's views on everything from social psychology to evolution? All this palaver, week after week, year after year, to avoid acknowledging one little word: "class". This, in a country with immense private wealth but an unchanging child poverty rate of 15%-20%. For shame?

  42. @jrd I believe Mr. Brooks is trying to poke a hole in what many consider to be a "reality". True, the poor are becoming poorer and the rich are becoming richer. This is a reality. But what Mr. Brooks is, I think, trying to point out is that despite the realities that are right before our eyes, there is another way to think about how to overcome those real inequities.

  43. @jrd Read the Preamble of the Constitution. The Left is aligned with those priciples. The Right attacks and undermines them relentlessly. The classic Right Left spectrum is a bad metaphor. It is Brooks' job to constantly explain that the Right and the Left are really the same, that they are both extremists, and that the only solution is the corporate establishment "center." That is what the pundits are paid to do. The reality is that the Right is extreme, the Left is moderate, and the establishment center is designed to surrender to the extremists on behalf of moderates. Oh, you think "cancel culture" is extreme? You know what cancels your voice? Being shot in your place of worship, being beaten up by the Proud Boys, bring sent to prison on no evidence, because the Right doesn't care about your right to a lawyer. The Left yells at Red Cruz in a restaurant, and corporate media goes on and on about the extreme Left "mobs.". The Right commits 90% of hate crimes, and 70% of mass murders, but even when the shoes have maga hats, the media refuses to admit that mass murder is more extreme than blocking traffic. The center is now protecting a status quo that both bases reject, while Trump dismantles our Republic from the top down, in the name of attacking the establishment. The center is not moderate.

  44. @jrd Exactly. All palaver and what they can get out of you.

  45. Better idea. Send suit cases and few hundred bucks to few people in the Red States who bothered to stay in school They should just move Then let the Red states have ghee our country Call it the United Red States (America’s third banana Republican). Trump president and McConnell VP They will not missed and we stop sending our taxes dollars and invest in our infrastructure. Works for Singapore

  46. Yeah, now that the Republican right has sewn up all of their gains with a full rack of lifetime judicial appointments to enforce their extreme vision far into the next three decades, let's call it a draw and just accept the fact that minority rule of the majority of the population is now totally legitimate. "Gosh", thinks our favorite neocon, "why are people so upset about this? Time to start weaving y'all". That pundit bubble is awfully thick.

  47. @Bernie = 4 more years of Trump. He does not have a prayer in the general. Bloomberg has the only chance. Politics now is money. Bloomberg is ready to go the distance without outside funds. He is worth at least$ 50 billion. Trump hates him and is scared of him. Another good point.

  48. Dear Mr. Brooks, I admire and feel annoyed at your intellectualism at times which comes across as philosophic distance, but right now I think you ought to be asking about the future of America. Please, connect emotionally!

  49. "[Dorothy] said my brains reminded her of a radio because you listen to it for days and days and you get discouradged and just when you are getting ready to smash it, something comes on that is a masterpiece." --Anita Loos, GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, 1925 That's how I feel about David Brooks generally and this column specifically.

  50. Weaving? Are you kidding me? And no mention by Mr. Brooks of the growing - and dangerous - white nationalism in this country? I'm a person of color, in my 60's. I am a native born American citizen. And what the 2016 election taught me is that whites, as a group, are far more racist than they admit to. A large majority of white men voted for Trump. And a majority of white women did, as well. What this means to Americans like me and my family is that Trump voters believe that we have no place in "their" America. They will never reach out to us. In fact, they want to install a soft apartheid where they, as a minority, rule the entire nation indefinitely. There is no "reaching out" to them. Why would I reach out to people who have, increasingly, made slurs to my family, to "go back to where we came from", and "you don't belong here". Now, some like Mr. Brooks, like to play the false equivalency card and claim some sort of similarity between opposing groups. When it comes to race, there is no "equivalency." I hate Trump voters for what they believe. They hate me simply for who I am. I could change all of my beliefs tomorrow, and it wouldn't change their hatred of me or any other brown skinned American. Folks like Mr. Brooks would rather that we continue with the fiction that most white Americans are welcoming, and want an ethnically diverse society. That they are still in lockstep with Trump tells me that they don't. And I will never "reach out" to any of them.

  51. @Orion Clemens 43% of whites voted against Trump, including 53% of whites under age 30. You can weave with them. Weaving is neither good nor bad; it’s a force amplifier. It’s good when good people weave together, and bad when bad people weave together. Brooks doesn’t address the negatives of weaving (white nationalism is just weaving solidarity among white nationalists), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be positive. In fact if we want to prevent that soft apartheid from coming to pass it will be important for all its opponents to show solidarity with one another.

  52. @Orion Clemens Thank you. That is the bald truth, and every fair-minded person knows it, and has always known it.

  53. @Orion Clemens I live in rural New Mexico. Most people I know here seem like good people until they get comfortable with you. When they are, out comes the bigotry. Not everyone, but a majority. So, I have friends, but not intellectually stimulating friends. I grew up in the urban midwest and most of my old friends there are the same. Most, not all, are bigots. I'm currently reading a book about the scientific origins of man. I haven't got to the part where he becomes a bigot. Sorry Mr. Clemens but I have to agree with you. I've never understood bigotry. I think it is tied up somehow with peoples lack of self worth and they try to make sure there's someone further down the ladder than them, but as I said I don't understand.

  54. Weaving? Are you kidding me? And no mention by Mr. Brooks of the growing - and dangerous - white nationalism in this country? I'm a person of color, in my 60's. I am a native born American citizen. And what the 2016 election taught me is that whites, as a group, are far more racist than they admit to. A large majority of white men voted for Trump. And a majority of white women did, as well. What this means to Americans like me and my family is that Trump voters believe that we have no place in "their" America. They will never reach out to us. In fact, they want to install a soft apartheid where they, as a minority, rule the entire nation indefinitely. There is no "reaching out" to them. Why would I reach out to people who have, increasingly, made slurs to my family, to "go back to where we came from", and "you don't belong here". Now, some like Mr. Brooks, like to play the false equivalency card and claim some sort of similarity between opposing groups. When it comes to race, there is no "equivalency." I hate Trump voters for what they believe. They hate me simply for who I am. I could change all of my beliefs tomorrow, and it wouldn't change their hatred of me or any other brown skinned American. Folks like Mr. Brooks would rather that we continue with the fiction that most white Americans are welcoming, and want an ethnically diverse society. That they are still in lockstep with Trump tells me that they don't. And I will never "reach out" to any of them.

  55. Mr Clemens, it’s not everyone. I am a white man, 66, and I reach out to my two Africa-born adopted kids every day. I love them. And I am reaching out to you right now. I hear you. I get it. You are right, but don’t give up. There are more of us then there are of them, and that trend will only grow in this century. It will come out okay, someday.

  56. I think this is well said. The hyperpartisanship of Congress is why it has been useless for years. As for the rest of us, empathy and respect go a long way along with some basic good manners.

  57. @Susan Roberts It's the repubs who are the hyperpartisan lawmakers. They pride themselves on voting in lock step, no exceptions. The goal posts keep getting moved toward the repubs and their voters vote in lock step also.

  58. Mr. Brooks is completely wrong about self interest. Self interest does not necessitate conflict. Building relationships and community are all part of a well rounded sense of self interest. Individualism isn’t rooted in only thinking of self either. Most individuals understand that they depend on others for everything from happiness to help. That there are individuals that are selfish isn’t proof of a flaw within the philosophy. We all have many self interests and they cover things like needs, wants, love, community, family, and even self sacrifice. Discounting individuals within the framework of community is dangerous. At the end of the day we are all individuals with varying needs and wants. We all individually make up the collective. That collective is made stronger when individuals are allowed to thrive and be supported.

  59. But the divisions and problems you're attempting to address arose not from unrestrained individualism but from unprecedented collaboration across borders in the last thirty years on a scale never before seen. Politics is such a lagging indicator that it took twenty years for a wave of populist uprisings to emerge on both edges of the ideological spectrum. The free flow of capital is now king and national politics a mere vassal.

  60. For some time, Mr. Brooks has searched for explanations of and solutions for our fractured populace. For the first time, he has avoided offering up decreased religiosity as a cause and increased religiosity as the panacea. He asks us to value differences, repair the ongoing effects of racism and accept that no single group will be able to drive any other group out of existence. I think that's progress.

  61. Sometimes, David, I am not sure what you are talking about. Perhaps it is in definitions. Liberalism or progressive policies have always been working together for the common good. If that basic policy is not being fulfilled or championed it is not liberal or progressive. That is why Trumpism or conservatism is not liberal but every man for themselves vicious capitalists who pretend to come together to trash the efforts of those who believe in the common good and cooperation. Bernie Sanders sometimes appears as a reactionary, but in the end if president will need to acknowledge the need for cooperation, something Trump in his efforts to trash his opponents can not acknowledge at all and never will do. Mr. Brooks I am not sure if this addresses your points for as I said I am unsure of what that point is, but if it is cooperation is good, Democrats are far better at that than republicans have shown themselves to be.

  62. Good article David, but I wish you hadn't used the word Liberalism to describe a system based on competitive self-interest since the term Liberals is commonly used to describe Democrats, when Liberalism as you describe it is far more descriptive of the unregulated free market espoused by most Republicans. I'm glad that you acknowledge that Populism occurs on both the left and the right. Trump however is a faux Populist who uses the movement purely for his own political benefit. Bernie is the real thing, for better and worse.

  63. @Steve He's using a standard economic term. It's not something he made up.

  64. @Steve Bernie is every bit the demagogue of Donald Trump. Medicare-for-all to cover all 330 million Americans in five years? That’s what you want to hear, so that’s what Bernie tells you. But it’s a blatant lie! And Bernie knows it!

  65. Liberalism, as a term, signifies a number of things.

  66. As the spokesman for the genteel upper classes, whose interests he advocates for on every issue of policy, it's hard to take seriously any critique he offers of class warfare. As Warren Buffet said: `There’s been class warfare for the last 20 years, and my class has won.'

  67. The article uses the metaphor of weaving; meanwhile, the graphic the leads the story shows the piecing of a quilt. Both the weavers and quilters of America feel misunderstood. I’m sure there’s a moral lesson in here somewhere.

  68. @Jktoronto You might have a point. Can the weavers and the quilt makers among us elaborate on the images, crafts, and metaphors? Can the two processes dovetail and co-exist? And is the difference like the distinction between America as a "melting pot" and America as a "salad bowl" or something else entirely?

  69. David Brooks continues to conflate individualism, which means not just asserting one's own rights but respecting the rights of others, and selfishness, which means caring only about oneself. Individualism is not the problem.

  70. This idealism and hopefulness ignores the reality of the power of the post-communication age. Relationships depend on our ability to communicate, and our politics should be derived from our ability to share and compromise. That relationship has decayed. Media creates instant emotional reactions based on content that may or not have any truth. Individual emotional reactions multiple on social media, engendering the growth of dangerous radicalism. At the same time, these swings seem to create powerful apathy in our leaders. This is the real Y2K. We have failed to regulate social media, we have failed to regulate mass media. We cannot enjoy civil political discourse as long as we no longer communicate using our voices.

  71. This is the best of conservative thought. Community and family and duty and service are the best ideals conservatism has come up with, and you are persuasive in conveying this different vision of society. Whereas last year you seemed dogmatic about capitalism, you seem more open (and honest) about how to make it work given current grievances and other people's experiences with it south of the line. I learned through technology that each person's data points are vital to create something sustainable, innovative and cohesive. To make society sustainable, innovative and cohesive, we will also need to value each person's data of experience.

  72. Human beings are always self-interested. It's been honed in us over the millennia. Cooperation and social behavior will occur only if it is rewarding to the participant, and thus in his/her self-interest. We also trade so that I'll be nice to you if you are nice to me (in my self-interest). If you stop being nice, most of the time, so will I. Self-interest comes in two flavors... direct and protective. I go after what I want, but I also don't do things that will be harmful to me. If I am a shy, anxious teen, I may avoid going to a party or asking someone out for fear of rejection, thus protecting myself. Misguided, but self-interest nonetheless.

  73. As the prisoner's dilemma shows, we all do better if we all cooperate. The problem is if you try to cooperate with egoists they crush you. As Mann and Ornstein have shown, it is Republicans who are the radical outliers. They don't believe in democracy and want to impose their will on the majority. Elect Biden. Great and he'll try to cooperate with Republicans like Obama did. Let's see where that gets Democrats.

  74. @JGM Yes. The real lesson of evolution is also cooperation. Even different species corporate with each other. Scarcity creates competition, but cooperation creates abundance.

  75. @JGM Well we got Obamacare. Unless I have missed something that is still the biggest advance for our society in this young century. Jim

  76. I think when we ease on watching television news and also step back a bit from things like Facebook and Twitter, we'll be a lot better. No, I'm not saying it's time to go back to the Biblical days and just put on slippers. But for the love of your sanity, step back from this daily gig of getting all caught up in television shows on Fox; CNN; and MSNBC. They are prospering in terms of ad revenue. But guess what? You, the viewer, isn't. You'll simply end up with unnecessary headaches. When I underwent neurosurgery, my neurosurgeon taught me a great lesson. And it goes like this; "If you focus on what you can't control, you'll lose the ability to capitalize on areas you do control." I underwent neurosurgery. As a result, following the news the way I used to is something I now refuse to do.

  77. @Nigel Nice. How much experience do we need to understand your point? I'm 74 and understand. Hope the youngsters learn fast. Jim

  78. Count me in! I love the optimism and do-able suggestions... you have a keen insight into our unique American social situation... in real time. That being acknowledged... you seen to have turned a blind eye to the inefficiencies and inequalities inherent in the predominant GOP business class point of view. This absence is stark... and because of the vital omission that so commonly destroys communities, bio-systems, and relationships... your excellent qualities of social camaraderie and transcendence may be impossible to go all in for. Thanks for the considerations though! ;^)

  79. Thank you! So much real wisdom in this editorial. So many useful ideas for moving away from complaining about “others” and gaining empathy and listening skills needed to learn more about each other and respect our differences.

  80. Maybe we could ask if oppression doesn’t in fact exist, and if so, who is doing it to whom. (The answer your the first question is trivial - of course it does. The one to the second is also very easy unless one has a vested interest in obscuring it.) Because surely it matters whether a politics that claims to be aimed against oppression, actually is.

  81. What a fabulous piece! Read, apply, enjoy, prosper. Repeat. Thanks DB!

  82. As I understand it there are two basic pulls. That of the individual for selfish ends and that which seeks to work together with others. It is the tension between these which is the basis of much of this discussion. We are all intrinsically selfish but we are all also driven to cooperate due to the need to survive. If we understand these two drives we can start to more clearly see what is going on. We cannot survive alone but those who think that individualism is the key to the future will not get this point. If we seek all the answers in cooperation we will not benefit from the advances that competition brings. The most important thing here is, I think, that we will always be in a state of tension between these pulls and must not let either one become too dominant. The role of government in all of this is to strike a balance, not to take an extreme view. Although this is not happening now, I can only hope that over time the basic pulls are balanced out.

  83. @Doc C Yes, there are pairs of opposites that must be balanced. Yes, every action creates good and bad results. But we must lean to one side, because there is no perfect center either. One side preaches the virtues of division, greed, and violence. The other side argues for union, investment in Americans, and peace. Moderates need to choose a side.

  84. Every society possesses a foundational ideology or universal principle. It's institutions are then organized to advance that ideology. Individual, and corporate, capital accumulation is America's organizing principle. The institutions of religion, education, law, media, politics, foreign policy, environmental policy, etc..., operate in order to promote capital accumulation. This is an indisputable fact. For over two centuries that ideology provided the American people with an unprecedented degree of material prosperity. It worked because the world possessed untapped markets and untapped resources. But the ideology, like all ideologies, has run its course. We now live in a world of limits - with climate change revealing those limits in stark terms. I think the fundamental question of our times is this: we either establish a new foundational ideology - one that builds institutions of cooperation or we continue down a Social Darwinian path toward greater competition, conflict, and environmental catastrophe.

  85. @Robert It is not true that "corporate, capital accumulation is America's organizing principle." The Constitution of the Untied States is the organization principle: Here is Our "mission statement:" "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." The word capitalism did not exist when the Constitution was ratified and is not in the Constitution. The Constitution is essentially a left document that moved us from a brutal past into a less brutal present. The Right has always opposed these priciples. The Right: -divides. -says Justice is too expensive. -tranquility is created by a violent militarized police. -defense is constantly attacking other nations and sending troops to almost every other country. -the general welfare is promoted by coddling the super rich and motivating the poor through deprivation and mass incarceration -liberty is for rich white men who can afford teams of lawyers, who are to get every benefit of the doubt, while poor defendants are pressured to plead guilty without a trial or complement representation. -and Posterity is found in quarterly reports. We are not a capitalist country. We are "a Republic, if we can keep it."

  86. I have organized with hundreds of Left activists, including many who are pivotal in the Sanders canpaign. Left activists come together in circles, where all voices are heard, so consensus can be found on win/win solutions designed to make everyone better off. The Left is NOT tribal. The accusation that the Left is tribal is just more of the Right accusing their opponents of their crimes, like when Trump calls others liars and frauds. On the Left, minorities, LGBTQs, etc. protect each other. The Left doesn't "hate billionaires," as an identity The Left hates what billionaires do to the economy: CENTRALIZE as much wealth and power as possible under their control. A few thousand billionaires have centralized HALF of all wealth on the planet under their control. The idea that these billionaires, whose global corporations have to keep pleadng guilty to manipulating every market, who have now bought controlling shares in ALL mass media, especially need outlets, and make the lion share of dark money donations to politicians are not the ones that created the system the we live under is naive at best. The Constitution says "Union" and "Justice" and the Left is for union and justice.

  87. I respectfully disagree. While of course many on the left and the right are decent people (in my opinion), right now we have too many intolerant ideologues on both sides who not only disagree with those who don’t share their views, but state that they regard their own group as the only “decent” people. Just read comments here and you will see examples of many intolerant, tribal comments.

  88. @McGloin "Left activists come together in circles, where all voices are heard, so consensus can be found on win/win solutions designed to make everyone better off." Every time I've ever been around Left Activists, it turns into a circular firing squad of competing identities, each vying to shout that they are the most oppressed, each trying to silence the other, each demanding that the other self-criticize their privilege or examine their unconscious oppressive biases or consider the problematic implications of the power relations inherent in their linguistic choices. Let me know when the Glorious Revolution comes (which will be never, because the "revolutionaries" will still be arguing about the identity composition of the Party Central Committee).

  89. @McGloin Hating is the manifestation of tribalism.

  90. Good positive ideas. In an earlier era the US developed the agricultural extension service — a federal agency that brought up to date information about farming to virtually every rural county. Then the Rural Electrification Administration brought power to remote areas. The idea of rural job training and tech enabling hubs is similar. Let’s de-emphasize culture fights and get behind the new PC — peaceful cooperation.

  91. Totally agree. Brilliantly said. Imagine what we could do with healthcare if we wanted to cooperate to create the best healthcare system in the world: the best combination of quality, efficiency and affordability. The problem we currently face is that too many Americans associate cooperation with Communism, and they keep out voting good ideas down because of this confusion.

  92. @Matt Mullen I agree. Besides confusion, there is ignorance, lack of a decent education, and open minds to explore all the possibilities. Why would any American oppose a program which aids all of us in having complete, affordable healthcare? To deny our families access to that possibility cannot be defended. All ages are in danger. Argument by younger Americans that they do not need healthcare is ignorant. A car accident, pregnancy, cancer , natural disaster, a kid's fall from a jungle gym. All of these and many more. can upend a financial plan or lack of plan. Think about it!

  93. Mr. Brooks vision of a politics of weaving reminds me of how the brilliant American theater director Anne Bogart talks about collaboration: 1) Show up; 2) Be Present; 3) Always tell the truth; and 4) Don't get too hung up on outcomes, allow solutions to emerge from consensus, however grudgingly built. Power can be conceptualized in many different ways. It is time to elect a president whose primary gifts are as Bogart's: an openness to incorporating all voices, and a social orientation in which there are no small roles.

  94. Mr. Brooks’s column is what we might call—with apologies to our fiercer grandfathers and grandmothers—geriatric politics. His rhetorical strategy in the Trump era is settling into a consistent, muzak-like soporific: false equivalency wrapped in a comforting blanket of pieties about human nature and local community. It’s fascinating watching him fight for the now blatantly vicious conservative cause with a pastel communitarian, three-cheers-for-the-weavers-club ethics.

  95. Call it what you want, but I prefer politics based on reason and respect. Neither party has done that lately. So feel free to label it “geriatric”’s still an improvement!

  96. @Paris Spleen he has always resorted to addressing policy problems by blaming the choices of individuals. It is in fact his primary shtick.

  97. @Paris Spleen Parfait!

  98. Perhaps I don't understand the use of the term "liberalism" here. If it means a society structured so that government empowers and serves individual citizens rather than a country where the individual serves the state interest then it seems used wrongly. That kind of liberalism isn't the same as "libertarianism"- the idea that individual freedom from state control is the ultimate goal. That is a false equivalence. The concern that libertarianism (as opposed to communitarianism),and a frequent bete noire of Brooks, has fractured American society into small interest groups is certainly a valid. It is however a problem not of the liberal state but of a brand of conservatism- in fact a central tenet of trumpian populism where the "state" (or "deep state" in the preferred argot of the right wing populist) is to be defeated at all costs and thereby empower individuals to operate free from constraint. But the state, as the guarantor and facilitator of the individual's material happiness and the integrator of individual interests into a community, is in fact the linchpin of Lockean "liberalism" and diametric to "libertarianism".

  99. I think of the dreadful transformation of our once bucolic college town. It began with a mall and big box stores Fighting the traffic to shop in unpleasant big box stores is no fun but Amazon came along and now a lot of those big box stores stand empty. But compared to the rural wasteland that surrounds us, we are doing pretty well. People are being crushed by an increasingly cold, bureaucratic and impersonal world where the choice between individualism or communitarianism seems less than relevant.

  100. Honestly, if I were a moderate centrist democratic candidate with a good chance of being nominated, I would ignore all of the bright shiny things like health care and the environment. Instead I would campaign on "restoring the checks and balances to the constitution." Honestly the presidency has grown too powerful. Time to restore war powers, the power of the purse, and the power to oversee the presidency to congress. And I think a majority of Americans. Republicans and Democrats could support that.

  101. @Hypoteneus I think it's pretty clear that people don't really care about that. Don't get me wrong; they should. Congress has been abdicating these various powers to the executive branch for decades. But congress is so divided that the only way for anything to get done is through the executive branch (take a look at Obama's presidency post 2010) or the Judicial. I think most people aren't really animated by the 'process' of government (I wish they were). They just care if things are going well in their lives. A good example is China. The CCP has a horrible human rights record, and the people there know not to criticize the government. But most are pretty content not to, because, economically, things are pretty good over there.

  102. Just wanted to say that I liked this article very much. I don't want to be at war with ultra-conservatives or ultra-liberals and I think these wild swings to the far right or far left are, well, the death of us. Working together toward common solutions benefits us all. Hopefully, we can save ourselves and find peace somewhere in the middle.

  103. @Tony Yes, the middle will save us. Only that we've been moving steadily right for decades, so that anything remotely politically "left" is considered radical and socialist.

  104. @Tony Yes, the middle will save us. Only we've been moving steadily right for decades, so that anything remotely politically "left" is rAdIcAl and sOcIaliSt

  105. Yes, I agree...humans need to learn to cooperate. And who traditionally are the co-operators? Women. Whether nature or nurture, women have been the ones with the ability and the will to bring sides it family or community. It's time for a woman!

  106. @Jane I did not get to your comment before I submitted mine. My thought exactly.

  107. @Jane I agree. I fear that men’s attitudes are polarized right now. We need to cooperate. That function, cooperation, is more associated with culturally attributed feminine behaviors. Amy Klobuchar for President.

  108. If Mr. Brooks wants to base an argument on the collaborative aspect of human nature, you have to look at the whole picture. Humans are collaborative, but they are also tribal. Almost all animal species are tribal, and we are still a part of the animal kingdom. So the full picture is that we enjoy collaborating with our own tribe, but we compete with other tribes for food, territory, etc. This is not to say that we cannot hope for a utopian society where “the lion sleeps with the lamb,” but it is merely wishful thinking to ignore our genetic inheritance. When we see polarization separating people by political belief, or racial characteristics, or any other identifying characteristic it may not meet our ideals, but we equally cannot eliminate the differences through wishful thinking alone.

  109. It may be time for secession. Clearly we are a house divided. It would be the rational solution. Neither side is going to accept the outcome of the 2020 elections and it is likely to flare up. Neither side is prepared to tolerate the other. Secession now. It could save many lives. Many, many lives.

  110. @Matthew, somehow I don't think that the states which depend upon the federal government for money courtesy of the taxes you and I pay (I live in NY) that help them, will want to secede. However, although many think the Civil War ended in 1865 and that the North won, don't realize that the South is still running the show.

  111. On what basis would a group secede? Look at the red blue map at the county level. Do you really think a NYC, SF or CHI or LA could operate on its own next to a hostile nation? What do you think the tariffs would be to export food/energy/building materials etc. , to those dots? How long do you think the extremely high earners whose income taxes provide the so-called subsidy would stay in the dot? No, secession is not a good idea.

  112. @Michael Blazin Basis? Shifts in geopolitical concentrations of ideology. Maps change all the time. We are not immune. Wouldn't you in Texas be happier without this gay man and his husband in New Jersey? Well, see, there you go. And we will be happier without Texas (where I was born). If done secession could be a great pressure release. Call a treaty where folks can move in/out for a several year period. We just have to face it: we really do not like each other. Divorce can be a positive. The alternative is another civil war.

  113. David Brooks is just writing about the same topic over and over again. His realization of the importance of community and relationships is about as deep and insightful as some ridiculous inspirational poster. Let me get this straight. Neoliberalism does not work. Supposedly because its just too individualistic and creates a rat race to the bottom of a bunch of well educated people working for finance and tech companies in big cities. Solution: We need more leadership from the center! Um, I thought neoliberal democrats were centrists. Seriously, your grand solution is elect a centrist Democrat (read: neoliberal) instead of Bernie Sanders. Because all the neoliberal elites don't find Sanders cooperative enough. Also, Ro Khanna has a great proposal to bring research funds and technology hubs to rural America! Right, because farming is the same thing as research and technology. In addition to this article being superficial, it makes no sense whatsoever. Also, I don't think we need more open office, high collaborative work spaces. I'm an introvert, I don't like that sort of thing. I think the real answer is there is a balance between the individual and society. Also a balance between work and having a personal life, something sadly lost in our society. And we need to stop using social media. And raise taxes, get single payer healthcare, and strictly regulate Big Tech. Just a thought.

  114. @James And that thought is pretty simplistic. Although seeing that you're an introvert, I understand your wish to avoid dealing with people. They can be a problem. They often want to talk. Collaborate. Have meetings. They get in the way. David Brooks has been talking about the same topic over and over again because it's important. It may not resonate with you, but community and relationships are all we really have.

  115. @James Your last paragraph is a good summary of what each of us want. We can work collectively to get there, or we can cede leadership to the grifters and power mongers. Our only tools are our votes, or community involvement to make our communities reflect our values. Do both.

  116. Social democracy by definition is a system that brings different groups together by leveling the playing field . Denmark is the happiest country in the world because parents are given paid leave to be with their kids during their formative years, because people collaborate rather than compete with their neighbors, because their communities are designed around bicycles and public transit and outdoor space-not carbon spewing bubbles stuck together in traffic taking them from their McMansions in the exurbs to the city where they work and consume. Real communities.

  117. @James I can easily entertain the possibility that social democracy is the way to go, but Sanders might not be the guy.

  118. @James I was stationed at Wisbaden Germany for three years from 1965- 1969. I was able to travel to a few countries during that time. I went to Arhus, Alborg, and Copenhagen for a few day in 1967. I was very impressed with the towns, the people and the educated culture. My experience in the Netherlands was similar. They are examples of social, cultural, and economic values that the U.S. would do well to emulate. That said, I'm not certain we can get there from here. Our national culture of reverence for wealth and the entertainment, sports, religious, and political culture could be ingrained to much. I hope for increments of improvement in that direction based on the decent values that many reasonable and responsible people in the U.S. have.

  119. Another good article from David, but as usual I am afraid that it will be misunderstood and be condemned as another pro republican post. I understand your position that tribalism is the cause of a lot of our problems today and that you are critical of the current Republicans in power as well. But any hint of criticism of Bernie will lead people here to interpret you as being pro Trump. I agree with you as I am pro capitalism as well but not pro the current republicans, but I am definitely anti socialism.

  120. @John Anybody who accuses David Brooks of being pro-Trump clearly has not read his many articles making it obvious that he is not, including this one.

  121. @Judith He's not pro-Trump, but he's either unwilling or unable to honestly assess how and why his party gave rise to Trumpism. It was clear well before Trump, back in the George W. Bush days, that the GOP was on the way to enabling a dictator, yet Brooks and his ilk said nothing of any substance regarding the GOP's turn towards totalitarianism.

  122. The Republican idea for cooperation and cooperation with Obama, while trying to make him a one term president, was for Obama to capitulate. This had nothing to do with the inability of Trump or Sanders to cooperate with others.

  123. Dream on, David. Human beings are fundamentally flawed, and the flaws win out. The last two weeks don't bode well for us.

  124. @John Wow. I couldn't disagree more with this comment.

  125. Once again, Mr. Brooks, we are all aware that weaving is better than sundering; that talking and listening to one another is better than conflict. But statesmanship also consists in recognizing when the opposition one faces is implacable and the opportunity for compromise had been exhausted. If the Dershowitz argument that the incumbent president is beyond accountability - a view that not only does not embarrass the GOP but is embraced by it - does not give you pause to consider that only one party represents a barrier to the comity you seek, you are gravely missing the point.

  126. @vcbowie Eloquently stated.

  127. One simply cannot deny that class stratafication is inherent to collective, that is, political life. Framing the analytic here with the automous self-seeking individuals conflates the societal whole with the parts constitutive of our social contract, wherein the right to take justice into own hands, as in the State of Nature, has been surrendered to the cultural consensus of representational government. It isnt about the political conflicts structuring the progressive perfection of our political union but the justice necessary to appreciate the interdependence of our culture's inherently stratafied socio-economic classes. What our politics has corrupted or jettisoned is our ideas and value of justice. The ultimate end, justice, has been preempted by the part of the means, politics. There is no society, political, pre-political, post-political absent justice. Without justice we are back in the random lawless chaos of nature.

  128. Thank you for these very sane thoughts and the honest attempt to get us all out of our own political bubbles. This is the best, and most important column I have read in the Times recently. The degree to which your colleagues fall into the “us” vs “them” trap makes me wonder when the last time they left New York was other than to go to Davos or the Aspen Ideas festival. The vital public service your column provides is to remind us that at the core, Trump is a mere symptom of problems we face. Problems that Bernie will likely only inflame. Unfortunately, until we focus on the collective (think Marshall Plan/ GI Bill) rather than the individual (think Instagram and pretty much all thing Silicon Valley) we’re only going to get more extremes.

  129. A large-scale national service program. Some form of indirect or direct reparative justice for those who have been systematically disadvantaged. Large-scale, government funded R&D hubs around the country, analogous to 19th century land grant colleges. All great ideas with one thing in common: liberals and Democrats support them, Republicans and conservatives in Congress and the White House prevent them from happening. Why? Because liberals and Democrats still tend to believe humans can at their best be "supremely social and collaborative," and nowadays, most Republicans and conservatives don't. Trump has become their quintessential model for how humanity works. Trump, not Yuval Levin or David Brooks, speaks for today's conservatives about the value of institutions. These revanchists know well that the destruction of community and the isolation of individuals leads to more right-wing voters. The consequences to society are catastrophic, but they don't care. It helps them win.

  130. I think what you're saying is that we are a social species. We depend and thrive on social Many of us like to think we're strong individualists, forging our own paths. The "pulling ourselves up from our bootstraps" mentality. That's a myth. We're a community (or many communities) that can only survive if we act and live communally.

  131. Evolution has made us a community focused species, but the limits on that community’s size is about 120 people, the max size of a primitive tribe. It goes against that background when someone says we are a community of 330 million people. We can logically construct such a community and having an external enemy that threatens all 330 million firms firms up that construct. When the purported enemy affects each of us differently and people start accusing part of the 330 million to be in cahoots with the purported enemy, the ties get frayed quickly.

  132. @Michael Blazin Written by a true social scholar. And I have no doubt you're right. But pretty convoluted. And not particularly helpful to the discussion.

  133. The Future of American Politics? American politics has no future. Effective politics depends on community, and America has no sense of national community and no cohesive national idea anymore. The only thing that will hold this place together in the future is our hideously well-equipped military and the Dictator waiting in the wings.

  134. Human understanding needs at least as much to transcend the boundaries imposed by seeing human welfare, at least as expressed as short-term comfort, convenience, or absence of challenge, as the end-all, be-all. We are an organism amongst many, dependent upon many. We need a perspective in which our self-proclaimed specialness is mitigated by that undeniable truth.

  135. Human history is one continuous record of "conservatives" opposing every step forward. From Galileo through Darwin and women's suffrage, civil rights to gay marriage, they have achieved an admirable record of being wrong. Their arrogance and self righteousness is utterly unjustified. I would be ashamed to identify as conservative.

  136. @tHE Self importance people like the Senator from Kentucky do, not see themselves as temporary but seek to rule forever. There was a time when opponents respected each other and talked, argued and manage to be civil Not so with the Kentucky. " I will decide as if he was the King of every thing.

  137. @Craig Willison: ‘Human history is one continuous record of "conservatives" opposing every step forward.’ —————— Well, they haven’t opposed EVERY step forward. When it comes to advances in how to better plunder the Earth’s resources, they’re all in!

  138. You are making a passionate call for an Independent "Party" ( a contradiction in terms by itself) without ever mentioning it! As almost always for the last 3 years, I am completely agreeing with your central tenet.

  139. I very much like the sentiment of this column, but the analogy of cooperation and community among early Homo sapiens might not be very strong - I believe that this cooperation and community was limited to extended family tribal groups. Are there historical examples of such cooperation and community within more recent history? Among non-homogenous societies? Thanks for a great column David.

  140. @VJDobbs It is not too long ago that the leaders of both parties met , had a beer and talked about whAT NEEDED TO BE DONE but THAT GUY IN THE SENATE HAS SAID' I WILL DECIDE AND YOU MUST FOLLOW"'

  141. @VJDobbs Yes! The United States of America. During WWII. Whether black, white, Chinese or Japanese, we all thought on the same side. I wish our CiC had gone to school....

  142. Collaboration is a beautiful idea, but what are the chances that the Fox demographic would be treated to such an enlightened proposal? While I can certainly picture someone like Rachel Maddow or Bill Maher supporting this vision, I can’t see Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh doing the same. Sorry, Mr. Brooks. The real problem in our society is that those on the right have been inflicted with a horrible illness that blinds them to reason. When this country unravels under the Trump dictatorship over the next decade, we’ll have them to thank.

  143. @ NA Wilson What I am afflicted by is a vehement opposition to my life being ruled by the left and by zero interest in ruling anybody myself. Live and let live. The left is not going to settle for that. So as long as I claim the right to laugh at any jokes I want, keep most of my money and live the way I want under the law there is a little hope for compromise.

  144. @no pretenses Thank you for expressing the thoughts of many of us who fear the rule of the far left along with the loss of our personal freedom to enjoy our lives as you so well described.

  145. @no pretenses Do you at least acknowledge that the minute you leave your home, your taxes help pay for all the surfaces and services you share with others—and that others help pay for them, too? No one is asking for “most of your money”. And by all means, laugh at anything you find funny—you’ll feel better.

  146. American voters currently don"t value cooperation as a skill expected from leaders. The appeal of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is in their "I'll do it my way." Both eschew cooperation. Both run the show themselves. For Sanders, Hillary Clinton's observation that no one likes him in the Senate conveys his behavior as a loner, goes his own way, doesn't build bridges for fruitful cooperation, a pattern decades old. For Trump, draining the swamp avoids working with all those in Washington with knowledge, skills he doesn't have. Obedience, rather than cooperation, is what he expects from subordinates. Biden cooperates but is being knocked for that, especially when cooperating with members of the GOP. Cooperation can convey betrayal or weakness. It's not currently an admirable political trait.

  147. @blgreenie "Biden cooperates but is being knocked for that, especially when cooperating with members of the GOP." You mean cooperating with the GOP in freezing Social Security...yea, guess I'm guilty of "knocking" him for that. Kind of like I "knock" him for lying about it. []

  148. Love, love, love this article. We are all responsible for ourselves and how we relate to others and view people that we disagree with. I make it a point to interact with others whom I know hold different views and have different fears so that I can see the parts of us that are the same. Politicians will continue to drive hate and fear to garner votes: we can choose not to play that game.

  149. My graduate students and I have been addressing the question of how immigrants arriving here often thrive in a generation. As David Brooks suggests it is not that every immigrant making it on his or her own. Virtually all are an integral part of communities that encourage and support each other. The recipe for success is clear goals, hard work, disciplined savings, mutual accountability and mutual support. As they thrive here they send money home as remittances to help their families, strengthen communities and start businesses in poor countries. As remittance senders they send better targeted financial help to millions of villagers at no cost at a scale that dwarfs our international aid efforts. We are calling our report "What Americans can Teach Us About Achieving the American Dream"

  150. I often find Brooks' analyses to be shallow and unsatisfying. For example, he writes, "We thrived as a species because we are better at cooperation." a degree. But throughout most of human history that cooperation took place in the context of small "in-groups" with high levels of interaction and with limited technologies. The challenge of today is how to inculcate cooperation and empathy for others in mass societies that increasingly have the power to destroy the world, and that have technological elites who have mastered bodies of knowledge that are absolutely arcane to the masses. This will be difficult to a achieve and not readily resolved by Brooks' "all we need is love" refrain expressed in a messy "weaving" metaphor.

  151. Thank you for this! By mid-century, roughly 30% of our population will be represented by 70 U.S. Senators from relatively rural, conservative states. The House will continue to skew toward coastal, urban and more left-leaning politics. Unless changing the basic structure of our Constitution is easier for Congress to accomplish than raising the debt ceiling, this divide will continue to grow. I recently started the Lydia Foundation for Social Engagement ( as an attempt to bring meaningful, constructive exchange to the fore and I appreciate hearing about other efforts at productive dialogue from around the country.

  152. David, it’s called dynastic meritocracy. Its phony & reeks of privilege and entitlement where the wealthy and well off claim excellence while buying their kids entry into elite institutions. Its the 20% (the .1% etc is just rhetoric and cliche) who dominate civil, political and institutional society. Theirs is the world of motivated self-interest and hyper individuality. Its populated by the socially conservative and socially progressive (or liberals if you will) who fight tooth and nail over identity politics while uniting in their disdain for the rest of us. Economic dominance is their bread and butter and a financially Darwinian society is the desired outcome. Its their dog eat dog world and we are the dogs, you can guess who is fighting us for fun and profit. In the end we’ll all lose, including them. They just don’t know that yet, but they will.

  153. The problem is that the people in power actually ARE cooperating and they're cooperation leaves Americans poor, without adequate health care without the hope of a secure retirement. Watch them cooperate to slash Medicare and Medicaid.

  154. The only winner of the impeachment hearings will be Donald Trump. The country, the constitution, the people themselves will be left in tatters with little appetite for collaboration.

  155. @Maria Rodriguez No. No. Putin is the really big winner here. By using Trump through flattery he has been able to destabilize Europe and move in on the ME and regain Crimea.

  156. All the more reason to grow beyond the two-party system, and embrace parliamentary government.

  157. @rixter Parliamentary government doesn't magically make wedge politics disappear ... nor does it guarantee that a majority won't play dirty games against a minority.

  158. One aspect Mr. Brooks has overlooked is how technology so attenuated to individualism is making such pluralism impossible. Only 20 years ago, people got their news from daily papers, or network news programs. Now, Social Media has created echo chambers, often deeply entrenched in reinforcing tribalism. The age of Instagram has brought about a time which is deeply narcissistic. How do we build a sense of community in such a world?

  159. @Jasmine Armstrong Agreed, I don't see how we put that toothpaste back in the tube. It started in the 1960s with "if it feels good, do it," then bumper stickers and T-shirts to "express ourselves" and now social media "influencers" and selfies. It all celebrates our self esteem run amok and our politics just reflects this.

  160. @StuAtl Maybe we can bring back the "I'm with stupid" t-shirts.

  161. Mr. Brooks makes good points but misses the critical context. Yes, we are social and collaborative, but these traits are expressed within our "tribe". We developed these traits to make our respective tribes more cohesive, creative and strong. For the purpose of winning in conflicts with other tribes, typically over resources. This reality is expressed throughout nature. For example, look at wolf packs. Social within the tribe; but tribes are at constant war with one another. So, I come away pessimistic about Brooks' prescriptions. And if you have any doubts, look at the conduct of the two tribes in the US House and Senate. These are supposed to be our best and most capable people -- indeed, the representatives of the rest of us. But rather than showing emerging signs of cooperation or collaboration, when you look at our representatives, fighting wolf packs come to mind...

  162. @Stuck on a mountain Wolves may sometimes attack other wolves to defend their territory, but no species seems as violent, or as efficient at killing members of its own, as humans. (Mostly human males, I might add.) "While dominant wolves generally act more self-confident than lower-ranking ones, wolves do not walk around constantly displaying their status. They most often adopt a neutral pose, changing their expression towards dominance or submission depending on which other wolves are around. (A wolf will show dominance to a lower-ranking animal, and submission to a higher-ranking one.) A wolf displaying dominance stands up tall, looks directly at the other wolf, puts its ears forward, and will lift its tail (usually not much higher than its back, unless it is very excited). A wolf displaying submission crouches down to look small, lowers or even tucks its tail, looks away from the other wolf, and puts its ears down and back. This is usually all that happens when two wolves meet: wolves cannot afford to spend all their time fighting, and these subtle displays are all that is needed to maintain social stability."

  163. "The fourth and final task of this kind of politics is transformative policies that directly address our most serious divides." Agreed. But - do you need to transform as an individual before you can transform policy? If not, will you really be able to articulate and realise transformative policy, or will it be just more change that sounds good until unintended consequences begin to emerge?

  164. Nicely done. There is a path forward here.

  165. Agree with the ideas on how society flourishes. Just not convinced throwing the good toward the bad will create change. I don't think Ghandi would have been successful in a totalitarian system such as Russia. We ar headed that way and are certainly not a democracy, an ally to be trusted or a leader on the challenges of today. Our reputation is deservedly bad. The Repubs have shown us that they- at least the Repub senators and congressmen- are not people of good faith and that democracy and the constitution can be played to accomplish their goals. They have broken the constitution. They have clearly shown that the constitution does not work. Dems might be better accumulating power and insuring rules on voting rights, election security, gun safety, etc. that may have to be passed on party lines with a filibuster waived for that legislation, as McConnell did for Supreme Court Justice approvals. After establishing a democracy via secure voting rights, I my wish list is for senators for D.C., electoral votes for Puerto Rico, and you may have heard, there is this climate change thing that might need some attention . . .

  166. Mr. Brooks, This kind of both sides coming together message sounds nice, but it begins from a false assumption. You say that we should "Learn from all voices", and "Assume people have the best of intentions". This is near impossible. Many of the leading voices on one side seek repeatedly to deny the rights defined in the Declaration of Independence to large classes of people on the other side. Tearing apart refugee families and denying the rights of the LGBT community do not show the best of intentions. If there is to be compromise and collaboration, should it not start with our founding document? "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." One political party right now is trying to make that true. The other, so clearly, is not.

  167. David, Once again you make good points with an optimistic outlook. The only rub is that you have one side (the GOP) that wants to jail its political opponents ("Lock her up!") As much as you like to say that both sides are at fault, only one of them is seeking to jail people who think differently from them. As much as conservatives despise "liberals" I have yet to see any Democrats call for the imprisonment of Republicans, save for their leader, Donald Trump, who has broken several laws (like obstructing justice). It's hard to blame both sides when only one of them refuses to follow the rule of law. Note that Bill Clinton gave a deposition when asked to and Susan McDougal went to jail for defying a subpoena.

  168. @WesTex Still not clear what David Brooks' notion of what "liberalism" means. Never did - and I have watched him for years on his turn on PBS. Perhaps this is at the core of this bizarre time in history. When in high school and college, "liberals" in my understanding were people who wanted to end the Vietnam War - that is, the US involvement in the Vietnam War given the costs in lives and tax payer dollars. What is a "liberal" today? A person who thinks Donald Trump should be impeached? Am I a "moderate" or a liberal or a conservative believing that Trump is a menace to our country and democracy and even common, human decency?

  169. @WesTex When the dust finally settles, the Republican party we see right now will fracture and become less relevant. At that point if it doesn't change a new party will need to rise up. Perhaps we'll wind up with a "progressive" party and a "moderate" party. Who knows.

  170. And then we’ll have to get the extreme party where ultra left wing and ultra right wing can stretch far enough to hold hands and unite.

  171. It's a good philosophy and it works. But it cannot work in a context where a plurality attempts to dominate a majority by breaking the bonds you speak of. It takes only one bad apple to spoil the barrel, and that bad apple is now at the apex of the power system. He is a charismatic leader, not a legitimate president, and the "collaborators" have infilled the offices of powerful executive and party institutions. Collaboration in this context is a vicious phenomenon. It must be resisted and fought. You can't be a lover unless you are a fighter when ruthless individuals and tribes attempt to dominate society.

  172. I'm sorry, but this is not a logically viable sequence. One cannot, and, indeed, should not, enter into a dialogue with anyone who wishes to own you, whether this be metaphorical, figurative, or literal ownership. It's a sure fire path to the loss of freedom. Since this is one of the most explicitly stated goals of the modern conservative; IE, to own a lib, modern liberalism is fighting for its freedom against a force of darkness and oppression. It should be almost mythic. And it might be, if there weren't those individuals laboring under the impression that a kumbaya moment is what this country really needs. All that does is legitimize the forces of darkness and oppression. This country is currently ruled by a minority using whichever legal and extra-legal levers available to retain their hold on power and led by a bloated autocrat who has proclaimed himself the state. One doesn't reason with that type of adversary, one vanquishes it. I'm sorry Mr. Brooks, but here I believe you are incorrect.

  173. @whg Your angst will not help solve any problems. We're not talking kumbaya but simply reaching across the aisle to start a chat...not by twitter but face to face. It's really not about us and them. It's about all of us.

  174. David - John Chicago, IL Has it ever been noted or even mentioned that the No. 1 beneficiary of Donald Trump's withholding of aid to America's ally, Ukraine, was/is Vladimir Putin? Trump tying the hands of Ukrainians was a direct benefit for Trump soulmate Putin, and frankly, this is genuinely sinister. Trump's transactional bent was presented with a unique two-fer opportunity both to smear an American citizen/political rival and simultaneously curry favor with one of this country's and democracy's chief international enemies. Trump could not have passed this up.

  175. @John Yes, it was explained that way by the House Managers this week during the trial. So sad that none of the republicans care about it. Many of them must also be in bed with putin including Moscow mitch. The illusion of America is forever destroyed and I don’t see any way it can ever be fixed. Glad I’m old.

  176. It’s not as though all is sweetness and light anywhere, but there are countries where cooperation for broader social benefit are more the norm than here in the USA. And there certainly highly cooperative enterprises found everywhere. It’s hard not to be fearful about the fissures in our society and hard to ignore the animosity that exists in some instances. But let’s try to find some solace in the positives and take our successes where we find them. With some effort and good will, we can grow them.

  177. Yet another false equivalence if right and left populism. It’s not altogether wrong in its premises. But the lines it draws and the rationales it weaves do not do justice to the extreme incompatibility between the malice of trump populism and the social welfare policies of sanders populism. You may be right that sanders is not a United. But let’s get one thing straight: he is advocating for progressive policies — single payer, higher marginal tax rates — that are well within the parameters of centrist western liberalism. In fact, they are the norm and not the exception.

  178. David's column reflects the complexities of society as written in Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. This essay gives us a brief glimpse at some of that which Harari wrote about in over 400 pages. Yes, living in a cooperative society is the ideal. But realistically what is necessary for a nation to be fair, just, stable, and to strive for the good of all its people, there must be a well-intentioned government hierarchy. Because no matter how hard we want to be united and connected through common causes, it is close to impossible without good leadership. I believe that the reason our country has become more polarized in spite of it being a tapestry of different colors and types of threads is because of our federal, state, and even local governments' irresponsibilities. To be more specific, this "president" aka Donald Trump and his former Party of Lincoln have not only opened Pandora's Box but also have exacerbated all the ills of an ailing society. So, David, lot of us are trying. However, the onus and the determining factor goes back to good, in all senses of the word, leadership. Right now there is none in our nation's capital.

  179. What you described will never happen in Congress as long as there are no term limits and gerrymandering limits competitive House races. There is no tolerance of the opposing party. It started with Newt Gingrich, exacerbated by Tom DeLay, and institutionalized by Mitch McConnell, who should have been sent out to pasture a long time ago. As long as cooperation is not in their self-interest, as you say, the oath of office for Congress is a sham. None of these people have the courage and moral compass to prioritize the country.

  180. @Historical Facts, You forgot to include Schumer and Pelosi; cooperation is multidimensional in scope. We need term limits on all the Congressional seats, House and Senate, however, the NIMBY clans of all stripes say no. Congress will not monitor nor agree to limit each of their individual power centers, we, the people, need a peoples grassroots effort to curb their power and enforce term limits.

  181. Wow. I am so impressed with your insight and thoughtfulness. How can anyone disagree. I also don't understand why some kind of mandatory service for all highs school graduates (as in many other countries) isn't required. It could also involve training for those interested in apprenticeships in the trades as they help rebuild run down areas, etc. Perhaps 2 years of service can lead to 2 years free tuition in a state college. It also takes everyone out of their "bubble" and into the real world.

  182. America has never been able to reconcile individual rights and community rights, which is branded as socialism and public goods. As a result, you have a majority of Americans who want stricter gun controls, more accessible health care, subsidised education, safer streets, and so on, but the same people would say don't ask me to pay more taxes, I want to own my guns, etc. In this situation preferences are blurred and politics becomes more and more transactional. The country will not change. It's American.

  183. There is no dominant majority. It's true, the top 1% own over 40% of all there is to be owned and the share is growing. It's not majority domination - it's oligarchy that's on the way.

  184. D Brooks relies on an idea that grows weaker by each hour of the current sham called a Senate impeachment trial. The idea that has taken deep root within the members is they no longer believe the institution called Congress is an institution for doing the people's business. Without the members believing in the institution how will the populace ever rekindle its belief? A pivot point with alternatives few and far between occurred R Reagan and the Republican party embraced his assertion government is the problem.

  185. "Why do we still not have a national service program?" I find it interesting that even on the left wing of the Democratic spectrum there is no suggestion that young people as a gap year after high school spend it serving society in some sort of national service (and there are innumerable non-military options). They would suggest free tuition for higher education, but not require that those students actually return something to society. The US has no tradition of service as service. It had a military draft when necessary, and got rid of it when not. The Peace Corps serves other countries, not in the US. The US, even in its socialist forms, prizes individualism. So indeed you end up with: "an individualistic culture that widens the maneuvering room between people but shreds the relationships and community between people."

  186. Where do we start? Simple. This choice of words with "Liberalism" in today's climate is specious and tricky. It is simply the Tory aristocratic philosophies of Edmund Burke and others who hid their motives in high words. Shakespeare they weren't, just as they didn't produce a Beethoven or a Mozart either. But America's Conservatives have given us a unitary Catholic Supreme Court and raised the ignorance of modern American Libertarians to the definition of freedom in a climate of religious rigidity and extremism. America is not better because of the last four Republican Presidents, it is decidedly worse and our Mr. Brooks is as slippery as ever. But we should always remember who set the present up and who supported the destruction of the circles of diversity and continued environmental degradation. Not Democrats and not modern liberals but Republicans and modern conservatives who will never be free because money does not free the mind. Only competence does that.

  187. I am so encouraged by your message and these core competencies that you lay out here. As someone who is deeply rooted in small town rural America and NYC I often find myself in agreement with people on both sides of many issues. We need help translating our arguments across the cultural divides. This is a great way to start that process. Thanks.

  188. Perhaps it would be best to admit that the “weaving” would be more successful if we lived in smaller polities where lesser numbers of more like-minded people agreed more with each other about these sorts of things. It’s the elephant in the room. I think we need to have a serious discussion about peacefully breaking up an over-large country into smaller entities in order to relieve the endless political tensions caused by ever-growing cultural divides - North versus South, heartland versus coastal. Not as idealistic as what Brooks is proposing, but maybe more realistic. And no, if a majority of the citizenry agree it’s necessary, as I’m beginning to suspect they might, it’s probably not going to result in another Civil War.

  189. @M.A., With your suggestion, then do we become some form of Ireland/Northern Ireland; does some monitoring of the tremendous North-South border require monitoring in the middle of the latitude, too; how would the north manage to recoup their illegal immigrants from the south whom they yearn to provide sanctuary for against a repellent southern geographic. Just saying.

  190. This is another excellent insight from Mr. Brooks. What he seems to miss is that we are increasingly a society inhabited by enclaves. We have lots of bonding social capital which links those of like minds together, but the threads between us that form bridging social capital between different classes in increasingly absent. Many of our cities are evidence of this...individuals groups become NIMBYs. They do not want those poorer than them living close by. The very wealthy have virtually severed their ties with all. They live inside walled/gated communities, helicopter in and out and reinforce among themselves a narrative that the poor more or less get what they deserve. I do not see Sanders arguing for more interaction between the poor and wealthy. I certainly don't see the wealthy arguing for more interaction with the poor. It is said the Nelson Rockefeller would have to walk through poor neighborhoods to work every day. He would carry nickels with him to give to poor shoe-shine kids. When you must look those who are disadvantaged in the eye, the eye softens. When those who are suffering see empathy among those better off, they soften their hard class lines as well. We would all do well to go back to Winthrop's City on a Hill sermon and admonish those who have that they have an obligation that must be freely given to those who are less advantaged.

  191. so we need reforms institutions to encourage collaboration. we need to improve our public services to help them foster the "weaving" of which you speak. Finally, these reforms should be of a size and scale not seen since the progressive era. do you really think this is possible with supply side, austerity promoting, market based conservative economics? If you care about making our institutions and services better, than stop labeling everyone who knows how to do it a far left socialist.

  192. Brooks is wrong: Sanders and Trump are not merely two sides of the same coin. Brooks focuses on their rhetoric and ignores the policies they favor. Trump's major accomplishment is tax cuts for the rich and corporations. He favors cutting medical insurance for low income people, increasing use of fossil fuels that pollute the air, cutting environmental regulations to favor donor corporations, reducing social security, and reducing food stamps and funds for national parks. He employs racism,, bullying, and consistent lies as his basic political tools. In addition, he is personally corrupt. Sanders wants to expand health care (including dental work and eyeglasses) for everyone, lower the cost of post high school education, expand affordable housing, repair our infrastructure, and raise taxes on corporations and rich individuals. He opposes racism in all its forms and doesn't finance his campaign with big donor PACs. The two are far from equivalent.

  193. Wisdom traditions tell us the three great questions of life are: Who am I? Why am I here? What must I do? From the moment we’re born, unfortunately, the dominant consumer culture pours into us its toxic answers, all sharing one central theme: humans exist in a state of constant insufficiency, and are therefore vulnerable to constant rejection. Unless, of course, we purchase this latest offering. If we understand this, we'll know that even wise bromides for being good people are insufficient. Because our dominant consumer culture overwhelms all other messages, putting us off course from the start. A secure, happy person, we know, is a person who doesn't consume as much as someone who's anxiety-ridden. Where then does the interest of the consumer culture lie, and how does it protect that interest? With threats. Participate in the culture or the food, housing, healthcare will not be there for you. You must earn it, and to earn it you must participate even though participating also means destroying the systems upon which all life depends, which in turn creates more anxiety. The prophets tell us we cannot serve God and Mammon. Mammon, in my view, is the pursuit of power and greed, the twin companions of the insecure ego. God, in my view, is the single spirit of love. And if we’re unsure what "love" really means in operation, all we need do is look at our children and ask what we would be willing to do for them. And then be prepared to do the same for all children.

  194. I don't have any problem with the idea that we need the perspective that our commonalities are greater than our differences, that we are in fact excellent cooperators, and that we need to come together to weave new institutions. But Brooks constantly forgets Maslow's need hierarchy--it's a lot easier to turn one's attention to these higher order concerns if one has enough food, isn't worried about losing one's home or one's health, and isn't confronted with the specter of societal collapse due to a modification in climate resulting from a population explosion over the last century in which people failed, cooperatively, to examine how best to use their technological advancements. The overall needs of the many should outweigh those of the few, or the one. But it's hard for that to occur when there are so many "ones" that said needs cannot reasonably be provided. And even if one posits the needs problem is one of distribution rather than supply, the Social Darwinist mentality, often religiously foundationed, propagandizes that many are unworthy of that supply. Brooks thinks we can be better than this, that we ARE better than this. It's equally likely that in aggregate, we AREN'T; we still haven't subsumed that reptilian brain quite enough.

  195. David - it is quite surprising that you believe "there is no moderate center". With respect, that is nonsense. Let's use the parties' respective litmus tests for Supreme Court nominees as a surrogate for where they stand in the political spectrum of Western democracy. The Democrats' requirements would be considered centrist, if not mildly center-right, in every single first-world democracy. By contrast, the Republican party's requirements would be regarded as reactionary. There is no "left v right" debate in the US because there is no significant organized "left wing" in the US, as that notion is known in the Western world. Instead, the debate is, and has been for decades, "center v right".

  196. @Nikkei by "every single first world democracy", you mean western europe. socially, the US is to the left of every country in the world besides western europe. Economically, to the right.

  197. @john Not sure whether you mistakenly believe that a) the US is socially to the left of Canada, or New Zealand or Australia, or b) these countries are in Western Europe. If a) I think you need to change your media source, and if b) I suggest buying an atlas.

  198. @john Not sure whether you mistakenly believe that a) the US is socially to the left of Canada, or New Zealand or Australia, or b) these countries are in Western Europe. If a) I think you need to change your media source, and if b) I suggest buying an atlas.

  199. IT was interesting that the examples that he chose at the end of his piece were from the left of center. I would love to hear similar proposals from right of center. Sadly, the R party seems interested only in vilification, not solutions, and seem blind even to acknowledging the problems we all face.

  200. True freedom necessitates responsibility for one’s own actions and responding to the needs of others. Anything else is nihilism, living a life without meaning and not caring one way or another.

  201. This is a beautiful piece that puts a bit of sweetness into one of the most frightfully depressing days in the history of our democratic republic. Thank you! Two of your key recommendations: "Be fully present, honest and vulnerable..." and "Learn from all voices" can be brave path chosen by individuals. However, without the repeal of Citizens United, and without an effective antibody to the increasing dominance of the a-factual, effective propaganda of Fox News and talk radio, it is not entirely possible to "learn from all voices": • First, one can only hear all voices, if the most rich and powerful voices cannot effectively drown out many of the poorest and least powerful voices. • Second, your plea, Mr. Brooks, implies an authenticity of "voice" - the deepest yearnings of one person connecting with the deepest yearnings of another. If there are no shared facts, then one or more of the parties are effectively brainwashed, and there can be no true connection.

  202. Warren Buffet said we're in a class war, and that his side is winning. He ain't called the Sage of Omaha for nothing.

  203. Your message is undeniable in the final analysis. I can only hope that we in America will embrace our exceptionalism, rather that follow the path of the history of tribal wars that have engulfed the other continents of the world. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.- Max Ehrmann 1952 "Desiderata"

  204. It is time to end the Milton Friedman/ Ayn Rand free market terrorism, and bring to trial vulture capitalists like Carl Icahn for their crimes against society, stealing peoples livelihoods, destroying communities and families to line their own pockets.

  205. You’re a case study, Mr. Brooks. You’re a case study of an individual who cannot look at himself honestly, who constructs elaborate arguments to obscure the simple, obvious truth that he has been dead wrong about his political beliefs for 40 years. You present yourself as an intelligent, philosophical man, but you are ignorant of human nature - namely, that amoral men will take whatever they can get away with, that they will exploit vulnerable people for their own ends, that vulnerable people will willingly allow themselves to be exploited, and that government exists to prevent it from happening.

  206. This is pretty good. We need a lot of good thinking right now. We need true leaders. We don't seem to have many who put good of the nation before good for themselves......

  207. False equivalence lurks in the background of this piece. The Republican Party has stumbled into a bizarre formula of success that uses Fox News and the anti-democratic features of our government (the Senate, the Electoral College, the Judges with lifetime appointments) - with a healthy dose of racism - to do anything it takes to stay in power. Until the public and the mainstream media confronts this truth the GOP will only prosper as a defacto dictatorship.

  208. Non-human animals evolved to understand the value of collaboration and co-existence as they create habitats, hunt for food, defend again predators and protect their young. But somehow certain humans appear to be devolving back to being solitary, distrustful and self-centered. Donald Trump is the perfect personification of this modern day caveman: In his world he is the greatest and all that matters. Take all you can and share as little as possible. Make all the money you can. Show no loyalty. Love no one, truly, other than himself. Trust no one. Engage in no collaboration. Maybe we should start having chimps teach us, instead of visa versa.

  209. This sounds more reassuring than reading that what motivates men is not sex or power but the desire to kill. I always knew there was something a bit dangerous about males. The word 'Collaboration' brings to mind sleeping with the enemy, and perhaps 'Unity' might be a better substitute. Remember 'The Lottery' by Jackson, a small American community where every year the villagers made a sacrifice to heap a rich harvest. Jackson was nearly burnt at the stake, but took the trouble to answer each and every irate letter that came her way. In this Trumpian era, it is beginning to feel like The Law and Survival of The Fittest, while the rest of us poor 'Yoricks' can wait for our Manor in Heaven. Not all Americans are power-hungry, or in 'It's US versus Them' mode, but striving for the restoration of The Middle-Class. The social bridge collapsed for want of care, and we ended up on a park bench, wallowing in the ills of injustice and how life did not give us a fair shake. 'We thrived as a species because we are better at cooperation', and because we are by nature part of the Herd. 'Reparations are a way to acknowledge the wrongs inflicted on African-Americans and to begin to heal that breach. Congressman Ro Khanna has a proposal that would show rural America that everyone has a place in the new economy', (and the participation of all Americans, slighted or spoiled, will be a necessary ingredient for this implementation). Bring back America famous for its 'Team Spirit'.

  210. Agree on all these points, but seriously, reparations? This will create a huge backlash that could be ugly.

  211. Are the President's lawyers lying? Is the President lying? I want to know. I am an American citizen. I want to know. This is a democracy. I have a right to know. Investigate. Let me hear witnesses, any witnesses, any witness the Presidents lawyers want to call, any witnesses the Managers want to call. I want to hear.