Friday, February 5, 2010

Politics: Agreeing with Brooks Again

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Several times in the past, most notably in this entry, I have praised New York Times columnist David Brooks for taking a very real-world approach to his conservative views. I may disagree with Brooks on many issues, but I never get the impression that Brooks lives in a different world with different facts than the world I live in, something that often happens with other prominent people on the right in the United States.

One of the things that I think makes Brooks so valuable is that in the spirit of other, less ideologically-identified columnists like David Broder, he tends to take the pulse of the public extremely well, even when public opinion is turning against his preferences. He understood the depth of anger against the Republicans in 2008 early, and understood what Barack Obama was tapping into against Hillary Clinton.

I believe Brooks picked up on another trend last Sunday during the roundtable discussion on Meet the Press, which I haven't heard him discuss elsewhere. (Brooks seems to appear all over the place; I usually hear him at least on NPR's All Things Considered and the PBS NewsHour each Friday.) While discussing the current tide against Democrats in the United States, Brooks noted that people are turning to the Republicans because they are dissatisfied with government action. However, they don't really want no government action, they just want more effective government action. They distrust THIS government, but they want to trust government. By calling for preventing or undoing all Democratic initiatives, the Republicans run the risk of over-reaching as much as they claim the Democrats have.

I suspect Brooks is correct. The TEA party may want government completely out of their lives, but those people have already been voting Republican. The independents that determine elections--and elected Scott Brown in Massachusetts--want government to actually achieve something. The party that figures that out and manages to actually seem effective will probably do quite well this fall. Somehow, I doubt either party is listening.

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