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David Brooks Is Fed Up With Conservatism. Who Knew?

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, file)

David Brooks scribed nearly 5,000 words in the January print edition of The Atlantic about why he no longer recognizes American conservatism.

I read his cultural books 15-20 years ago, and I wish he had continued writing those rather than pontificating on politics. Because, like the wholly disingenuous Max Boot, who wrote an entire book about leaving the GOP when he never actually was a Republican, Brooks has little credibility.

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The never-ending series of “Republicans are dead” essays has been spreading across insular precincts for decades and will continue in perpetuity. Brooks makes some reasonable points about the virtues of Burkean-style traditional conservatism compared to populism, but other than that, he doesn’t say much of substance.

The latest essay’s subtitle — “The rich philosophical tradition I fell in love with has been reduced to Fox News and voter suppression” — is preposterous. Brooks does not even make an argument for his lazy usage of the “voter suppression” moniker; it is utilized because he knows his readers will believe it.

Brooks continues, “the American conservative tradition—which I would say begins with the capitalist part of Hamilton and the localist part of Jefferson; extends through the Whig Party and Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt; continues with Eisenhower, Goldwater, and Reagan; and ends with Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.”

If you believe the “conservative tradition” leans more toward Theodore Roosevelt than Calvin Coolidge, I’d question your definition of the movement. Roosevelt was a well-read patriot, but he was not modest or right-wing.

Brooks then bemoans racial resentment finding a home among conservatives, but surely the same can be said for leftism. That’s tribalism, and it’s not good for America. I’d argue, however, that classical liberalism solves that issue, and its principles are more often appreciated among American conservatives.

But the worst passage in Brooks’s treatise is:

I’m content to plant myself instead on the rightward edge of the leftward tendency—in the more promising soil of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party. If its progressive wing sometimes seems to have learned nothing from the failures of government and to promote cultural stances that divide Americans, at least the party as a whole knows what year it is.

Balderdash.

If you get all your views of conservatives from perusing woke Twitter, watching CNN, and reading the Huffington Post, you might assume Reaganism within the Republican Party is gone.

Surely the Right has become more illiberal over the last six years. But any fair-minded observer realizes the “moderate wing of the Democratic Party” has no influence within that party, whereas the remaining Reaganites have plenty within the GOP. The radical left runs corporate media, owns the cultural narratives, and pushes the overall Democrat agenda.

Brooks, like Boot, Matt Dowd, Jennifer Rubin, and other faux-conservatives-turned-progressives, will never be accepted by the ignoble left, which does not read or forgive.