David Brooks Knows Who Killed America: Elizabeth Warren, In The White House, With A Plan
David Brooks has seen the future and it's an Elizabeth Warren presidency. Awesome! But let's not get too excited. Brooks isn't known for his prognosticative powers.
In his latest column that the New York Times still prints for some reason, Brooks "looks back" on a Warren presidency from the year 2050. I don't know why he chose this specific point in the future. Thirty years after George H.W. Bush was elected, the Times forgot all about Willie Horton and instead wrote about his "uncommon grace." By 2050, they'll be releasing glowing biographies about Warren called The Selfie Queen. But Brooks, who'll still write for the Times in 2050 because God hates us, promises to paint a more sober picture.
BROOKS: A crisis of legitimacy swept across American politics in the second decade of the 21st century. Many people had the general conviction that the old order was corrupt and incompetent. There was an inchoate desire for some radical transformation.
Holy Crap! it's a Star Wars opening crawl. Brooks goes on to describe Joe Biden as the safe but disappointing Star Wars prequels and Warren as the "political" sequels with their SJW narrative (i.e. "woman lead"). Warren wins the primary and then beats Trump. Everyone's happy!
BROOKS: The American educated class celebrated the Warren victory with dance-in-the-street euphoria.
I think we can do better than that for President Warren. People dance in the street during Mardi Gras. We'll have just kicked Donald Trump to the curb and elected the first woman president. I expect to see carloads of women yelling at frightened men on the street, "We're coming for your dicks!" The wisest among us will eagerly become Uncle Lydias in the real-life "Handdude's Tale." I'd personally hunt down Brooks and Ben Shapiro and happily present them as tribute to our feminine overlords.
Brooks assumes Warren's presidency will be a complete flop because she's a girl who don't know nothing. And here we thought the absolute worst that could happen is a perfectly normal administration where the commander in chief isn't a corrupt white supremacist.
BROOKS: In staffing her administration, she rejected the experienced Clinton-Obama holdovers and brought in a new cadre from the progressive left.
Like so many Never Trumpers, Brooks pretends like he actually liked anyone who worked for Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. This is why it's laughable when Brooks claims a defeated Trump would become "instantly reviled" with no loyal defenders. With every progressive policy or nominee advanced, Warren would have conservatives like Brooks lamenting on "Morning Joe" how they "never imagined they'd miss Donald Trump."
BROOKS: One by one, [Warren's] proposals failed in the Senate: Medicare for all, free college, decriminalizing undocumented border crossing, even the wealth tax. Democratic senators from red states, she learned, were still from red states; embracing her agenda would have been suicidal.
Someone please introduce Brooks to Google. Obama got Senate Democrats from West Virginia, Arkansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Louisiana to vote for the Affordable Care Act. This was perhaps "suicidal" for most of them but they believed it was worth it. Nothing Warren has proposed is any more "radical" and "socialist" than Fox News claimed the ACA was.
Brooks doesn't like Warren and thinks she lacks any "coalition-building" skills. Her "moral superiority" is only good for "condemnation." He's got too much book-learning to flat out call her a "nasty woman." Taking Warren's failure as a given, Brooks pontificates without facts or reason about why it all went to hell.
BROOKS: Moderate liberals had a basic faith in American institutions and thought they just needed reform. They had basic faith in capitalism and the Constitution and revered the classical liberal philosophy embedded in America's founding. They inherited Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass's millennial nationalism, a sense that America has a special destiny as the last best hope of earth.
BROOKS: Progressives had much less faith in American institutions — in capitalism, the Constitution, the founding. They called for more structural change to things like the Supreme Court, the Electoral College and the basic structures of the market.
Donald Trump is president. Can you blame progressives for thinking something is off with American institutions? Also, the number of Supreme Court justices changed six times between 1790 and 1869. Nine is not some holy number. The Electoral College is fucked. It's the single reason we wound up with Trump. American voters overwhelmingly selected the non-psychopath. The founders intended for the Electoral College to serve as a compromise between Congress and "qualified" (i.e. white male) citizens picking the president. The electors were supposed to keep the rubes from doing something stupid like giving the nuclear codes to a racist demagogue. Now the Electoral College mostly rubber stamps the results from election night. It's still a "popular vote," but the actual loser can somehow win because we count the votes oddly.
BROOKS: Trump's victory in 2016 had served for them as proof that racism is the dominant note in American history, that the founding was 1619, not 1776. They were willing to step on procedural liberalism in order to get radical change.
White man, please get over the 1619 Project. We knew America was racist AF before Trump was elected. It's why we personally warned Susan Sarandon-believing, protest-voting fools that Trump was a real threat. Brooks is devoid of intellectual honesty: "Procedural" liberalism would involve transitioning from the Electoral College because of the lopsided demographics that give less populated, majority-white states an outsized influence. It means accepting that the judiciary has been politicized for decades now and not just shrugging as Republicans pack the courts with conservative hacks. Brooks defines "radical change" as Democrats doing anything more than weakly crying, "Ow, stop that!" whenever Republicans kick us in the nuts.
Brooks the Magnificent goes on to predict that "moderate liberals" -- the political equivalent of "smooth jazz" -- will triumph in 2024. Immigrants will apparently turn out in droves to restore faith in capitalism and the American dream. Man, Brooks makes it sounds like the Warren era was so horrible they even stopped making Marvel movies.
BROOKS: By 2030, progressive populism burned out as right-wing populism had. The Democrats became the nation's majority party. This party ran on a one-word platform: unity. After decades of culture, class and demographic warfare, moderate liberals defined America as a universal nation, a pluralistic nation, embracing all and seeking opportunity for all.
So, the Democrats stopped believing in anything other than what can appear on a bumper sticker. They just become the First Order... I mean, glorified Republicans who think a lot like David Brooks. No, thanks.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.