David Brooks: White Democrats Be Like ...
David Brooks doesn't know much, but you'd think he'd have a solid grasp on educated white people. He's (very) white and owns framed certificates that imply he's educated. However, he's not an educated white Democrat and freely admits he doesn't get their alternative lifestyle.
People are always changing their minds, day to day.
Yes, you TOO can have your very own column for the New York Times where you can share trite observations like this one.
But over the past 20-odd years one group has shifted to an astounding degree: highly educated white Democrats. I'm not sure I understand why this group has undergone such a transformation, but it has, and the effects are reshaping our politics.
Brooks doesn't understand the issue but he's going to tell us all about it anyway. This is the warning label that should accompany all his columns. Brooks claims educated Democrats, whom he conflates with educated white Democrats, have gotten steadily more commie over the past 25 years. (Actual leftists disagree, by the way, and argue just the opposite.) He refers to a column by yet another educated white guy, Thomas B. Edsall, that suggests there are now three Democratic Parties. We have three whole parties and still can't convince any members of them to run for Senate?
The most moderate faction is the most nonwhite and focuses on pocketbook issues like jobs and taxes. The most left-wing segment is the most populated by whites. It focuses on issues like abortion, global warming, immigration and race and gender equity.
We count two parties there, but whatever, three is funnier. As a liberal minority, we hate to disagree with two white guys, but we're fairly certain nonwhites care about racial equality. We're not just in it for the Soros money.
Brooks argues that white Democrats haven't just moved left, they are now woke-obsessed: "Racial equity has become the prism through which many in this group see a range of other issues." We guess this is in contrast to nonwhite voters who are concerned with more "pocketbook issues" like jobs, taxes, and affordable access to pocketbooks. It explains why Black Lives Matter rallies are such mayo fests.
White educated Democrats, according to Brooks, view immigration as a racial issue, which "simply wasn't true two decades ago." Brooks does not acknowledge the increasing racial backlash against immigration from "shithole" countries. Nativism and xenophobia have steadily risen to 1920s levels but without the moderating influence of the Charleston.
Many progressives see barriers to immigration as akin to unjust racial barriers. Many want to dismantle the border enforcement agencies and eliminate criminal sanctions against undocumented crossings precisely because they are seen as structures of oppression that white people impose on brown people.
No, progressives of all races can see that Donald Trump's "immigration policies" include Muslim bans, concentration camps, unconstitutional Census questions, and very little else that is not racist and cruel. Stephen Miller is white and allegedly a person but our issue is with the racist cruelty. We're not demonizing white people. We don't even deny them sushi.
Brooks also points to shifting views on Israel. White liberals used to see the Israeli/Palestinian conflict simply as a democracy versus a "series of authoritarian regimes trying to destroy it." Now, apparently white liberals view Israel as "a white colonialist power" oppressing brown people. We think either view is reductive and reality is more complex. That's probably what Brooks finds disconcerting about his more liberal skinfolk these days: They realize that life is complicated.
As [Zach] Goldberg points out, in 1996 and 2010 about a quarter of white liberals thought racial discrimination was a very serious problem. By 2016, 58 percent did. White liberals have warmer attitudes toward other races than they do toward their own.
WTF? Brooks just went full-blown RACE TRAITOR! Conservatives like Brooks desperately want to believe that "wokeness" is a product of guilt-ridden white liberals who enjoy privileged existences at "super-prestigious universities and the affluent progressive enclaves along the coast." This isn't anything new under the sun. Conservatives have blown the "white guilt" dog whistle for decades now. It somehow makes them feel less racist to believe true racists are their liberal relatives who start discussions about "white privilege" at holiday gatherings.
We're not surprised that 75 percent of white liberals didn't think racism was a big deal during the period just prior to Barack Obama's election. Everyone was embracing the myth of a post-racial paradise. But we imagine white liberal eyes started to open when they saw the venomous racism, posing as "populism," directed at the first black president. By 2016, when 58 percent of white liberals thought racial discrimination was a "very serious problem," they'd seen Eric Garner choked to death on a street corner. They'd experienced Ferguson. And they were watching in horror as Trump slithered closer to the White House with an overtly racist campaign. This sort of thing changes people -- unless you're David Brooks.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."