In Which You Answer David Brooks’s Question

 

shutterstock_128966351David Brooks in today’s New York Times:

The most surprising event of this political era is what hasn’t happened. The world has not turned left. Given the financial crisis, widening inequality, the unpopularity of the right’s stances on social issues and immigration, you would have thought that progressive parties would be cruising from win to win.

But, instead, right-leaning parties are doing well. In the United States, Republicans control both houses of Congress. In Israel, the Likud Party led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled off a surprising win in an election that was at least partly about economic policy. In Britain, the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister David Cameron won a parliamentary majority.

What’s going on here?

Well?

Published in Politics
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  1. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Left turn = chaos. Right turn = order.

    At some point enough people, even enough of those who derive monetary benefit from the Left’s redistributive programs, or psychological benefit from it’s social justice rhetoric decide “enough.”

    Regrettably in the US that means giving the rotten, corrupt husk of the Republican party one more chance. In the main, look for its candidates to run on the “Vote for us we’re not as bad as the other guys. Give us another chance and we promise we won’t micturate it away this time” platform in 2016.

    • #1
  2. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    I wonder if some of it is just the natural ebb and flow of politics and that the parties in power at the time of the financial crisis were blamed for it. That would explain most of the examples Brooks cites, as well as a few others.

    • #2
  3. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    The stance of the right on social issues and immigration are only unpopular with the media and the left loons. Our country is still center right regardless of the media.

    • #3
  4. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    “I was not designed to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.”
    ― Henry David Thoreau

    • #4
  5. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Politicians and pundits love to look at every election as a positive affirmation of something. But elections turn on a lot of things. It turns on those people who vote negatively, those who stay home and those that are disappointed from the over promises of one party and buy into the over promises of another.

    And what is right-leaning in Europe does not necessarily fit the same criteria here. European culture may be older than ours, but in reality we’re the elder brother politically. Political tradition in the US extends to our founding. In most of Europe they measure time since the end of WWII. (And like Mark Steyn and Nigel Farage I don’t include the British Isles as “Europe.”)

    For the dominant superpower, however diminished the current administration may leave us, we’re awfully deficient in self confidence. Things usually go right because that’s the way reality leans. We need to acknowledge that and convince more people of that.

    • #5
  6. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    The Left’s promises have been shown to be what they are: Words.

    As Europe lurches from financial crisis to ultimate insolvency as the weaker members drop out of the Euro (Greece’s imminent departure will probably spur several other defections) it has become obvious that the fantastical goals weren’t attainable.

    Here at home, Barack Obama has shown himself to be a bitterly divisive and destructive figure.  You can see the exhaustion of the left; they only halfheartedly bother to defend Obama these days.  It’s possible that he has done so much damage to the Democrat brand that several elections cycles will pass before they regain the energy to challenge red-state dominance of the legislative branch.  In addition to that, Obama has cleaned out the cupboard of potential Democrat leaders by putting numerous high profile Democrat Governors and Senators in his Administration, thus irradiating them as well.

    This is a moment of opportunity; much like 2012 for the Republicans when few plausible leaders wanted to challenge what seemed like an inevitable Obama victory so it is in 2016 for the Democrats.  Look at who they’re running out there: A couple of 70-yr-old has-beens, while every vibrant and strong Republican who has a shot knows that they only have to win the nomination to be President.

    If the Democrats thought this was an opportunity for them, there would be more interest.  The chirping of crickets on their side of the aisle gives it away.

    • #6
  7. Mario the Gator Inactive
    Mario the Gator
    @Pelayo

    “Socialism only works in two places,” Ronald Reagan famously said. “Heaven where they don’t need it and hell where they already have it.”

    • #7
  8. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Financial Crisis – We were told it was Bush’s fault and Obama was going to fix it.  He hasn’t.  Thus, America doesn’t believe the left, and they are prepared to give small government types a shot.  Only they darn well better be small government types, in deed as well as word.  Or it swings back the other way.

    Widening inequality – Nobody actually believes that junk.

    Unpopularity of the right’s positions on:

    Social issues – He means gay marriage.  He may be right on that one issue.  On every other social issue, he’s wrong.

    Immigration – Our position, generally, is “Secure the borders, then we’ll talk.”  Most people agree with that view, even liberals I know agree with that position.

    David Brooks talks, as my dad likes to say, just to hear his gums bump.

    • #8
  9. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Liberalism is dead.  Things are changing.

    • #9
  10. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @WardRobles

    Majestyk nails it. I am not typing this comment on a government iPad. People can see with their own eyes that all the fresh, innovative stuff in their lives comes from voluntary associations of individuals (like Apple and Ricochet). The Left is stuck in the Sixties. Even President Obama, who was a small child then, is steeped in the culture and politics of that decade. But now even the Swedes have turned partly away from democratic socialism.

    • #10
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Casey:Liberalism is dead. Things are changing.

    Casey, I wish it were that simple.

    Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.

    – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac.

    I had the advantage of a four year course under Professor Jimmy “the Tennis Court Scheduler” Carter.

    • #11
  12. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    David Brooks writes a column for the New York Time as a supposed conservative. What’s goin on is that he’s in a bubble and he doesn’t know it. And may never know it. Does he read Ricochet, Peter, or are we just supposed to read him?

    • #12
  13. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    Unfortunately if we lose on social issues we lose on everything else.  The family is the bedrock of society.  Redefining marriage brings government squarely into the family, as does forcing everyone to pay for abortion.  I wish people could see that.

    • #13
  14. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Remember the old Steve Martin routine about the secret to getting a million dollars and paying no taxes? First step: get a million dollars. That’s how liberals actually behave; they casually assume, and take for granted, the millions of tax dollars are just going to keep coming constantly. Liberals are all about spending the money, but they’re incoherent when it comes to generating the money in the first place.

    Conservatives want to keep taxes low because high taxes discourage growth. You can’t spend money if you don’t have it. Liberals don’t take that seriously. When Joe Biden was trying to encourage more taxes, he had nothing more substantial to argue than “come on, it’s the right thing to do.” That was a display of his blindness; since he doesn’t know why, he just ascribed low taxes to greed.

    I think people instinctively know the difference. They know that you can’t farm the field to death. This is a time when we need more growth, not less. You can’t strangle the economy with higher taxes.

    And yes, I believe that conservative social positions are not so unpopular, for much the same reason. You can’t take family for granted. You need to work hard to preserve the institutions that make the rest of society possible. People see the breakdown of the family and know that’s a problem.

    • #14
  15. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Eh, I’m not sure right/left generalizations work well in assessing global politics. Heck, even in Republican intramural party politics I think it’s fair to say that local and state leaders are more conservative than national politicians after they’ve been in DC awhile.

    In the case of British politics for instance, when pundits say “conservatives” have won, I often wonder, ‘”conservative” compared to what?‘ The commies and social democrats (but, I repeat myself) they oppose?

    The problem is human nature is not easily overcome by reason in the light of evidence. People want very badly to believe in the (false) promises the utopian left makes, and every new generation must be carefully inoculated against the nonsense — or be mugged by reality.

    I do wonder, though, if the Anglosphere is leaning ever so slightly less to the port because they see Obama pushing us over the edge into the abyss. The Pax Americana security blanket is being withdrawn and maybe they’re getting the sense it’s time to grow up. Part of me is secretly enjoying the mugging, given the slobbering love affair Europeans had with candidate Obama. Suckers. <apologies for the mixed metaphor mess>

    Meh, I still give Hillary a better than 50/50 chance of being elected.

    • #15
  16. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Most people are upset at cronyism which is found on the right and the left. This inequality is the product of cronyism. It has nothing to do with capitalism. Capitalism is self-correcting and would have seen half of the wealthy go bankrupt in 2008.

    • #16
  17. user_331141 Inactive
    user_331141
    @JamieLockett

    We should stop talking about social issues as if they are one block of issues that everyone is on one side of. The American electorate simply doesn’t fit into such neat categories.

    Immigration: while the free movement of labor is economically beneficial to all parties, it is simply incompatible with a welfare state. This isn’t really a social issue so much as an economic one.

    Abortion: technology has swung this the conservatives way. It is important that conservatives not let the perfect be the enemy of the good here. Real inroads can be made against 3rd and 2nd trimester abortions so long as over reach doesn’t allow the left to demagogue the issue.

    Legalized Marijuana: The electorate clearly favors the end of prohibition. What makes little sense is why most conservatives don’t favor it for economic, small government and liberty reasons. The blindness of the right when it comes to government bureaucrats wearing uniforms is particularly stark on this issue.

    Same Sex Marriage: Social Conservatives lost on this one. Good. The tiny number of gay people who marry will in no way affect heterosexual families. The heterosexual family was in trouble long before gays wanted to marry, primarily from government intervention through the welfare state.

    As you can see – there are no “socially conservative” issues. Just issues where one can be on the side of liberty and small government – and that “side” is not always the same.

    • #17
  18. user_331141 Inactive
    user_331141
    @JamieLockett

    Merina Smith:Unfortunately if we lose on social issues we lose on everything else. The family is the bedrock of society. Redefining marriage brings government squarely into the family, as does forcing everyone to pay for abortion. I wish people could see that.

    This is just 100% untrue.

    First off, there are no “social issues” where one side has a monopoly on liberty.

    Second: “Losing” on some of those issues has no bearing on whether we can roll back the state in other areas. Keeping Marijuana illegal for example (a “win” for someone like you) would allow the liberty crushing leviathan that is the Drug War to continue steamrolling over liberty.

    • #18
  19. user_331141 Inactive
    user_331141
    @JamieLockett

    Marion Evans:Most people are upset at cronyism which is found on the right and the left. This inequality is the product of cronyism. It has nothing to do with capitalism. Capitalism is self-correcting and would have seen half of the wealthy go bankrupt in 2008.

    This. It is interesting how similar much of the rhetoric of the Tea Party and Occupy Wallstreet is. The difference is in the proposed solutions. To be effective going forward the right needs to show that its proposed solutions will be most effective in returning our system to one of fairness and dynamism.

    • #19
  20. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Western Chauvinist:

    I do wonder, though, if the Anglosphere is leaning ever so slightly less to the port because they see Obama pushing us over the edge into the abyss. The Pax Americana security blanket is being withdrawn and maybe they’re getting the sense it’s time to grow up. Part of me is secretly enjoying the mugging, given the slobbering love affair Europeans had with candidate Obama. Suckers. <apologies for the mixed metaphor mess>

    Meh, I still give Hillary a better than 50/50 chance of being elected.

    We have to be shaken into alertness every 30 years or so.  I wish that the shaking we’ve received hadn’t been in the form of the most nakedly racialist national leader we’ve had in half a century, but there you go.

    The Anglosphere itself is going to go through some spasms where the men are separated from the boys in the next few years.  Being as the Scottish Nationalist Party now is in de facto control of Scotland proper I think they’ll foolishly push for Scottish independence and with the wind at their back this time they may achieve it.

    English Politics itself will then turn sharply to the right and Scotland will become a basket-case – but there’s a cure for that, and they’ll be made to right themselves.

    • #20
  21. user_331141 Inactive
    user_331141
    @JamieLockett

    Western Chauvinist:Eh, I’m not sure right/left generalizations work well in assessing global politics. Heck, even in Republican intramural party politics I think it’s fair to say that local and state leaders are more conservative than national politicians after they’ve been in DC awhile.

    In the case of British politics for instance, when pundits say “conservatives” have won, I often wonder, ‘”conservative” compared to what?‘ The commies and social democrats (but, I repeat myself) they oppose?

    I think the mistake you are making is assuming that British and American “conservatives” share the same tradition. American conservatives owe much more to classical liberalism than their British Tory counterparts. To try and graft American electoral politics on to Britain is a grievous error. This is the system that force Fredrich Hayek to write an essay on why he is not a  conservative.

    • #21
  22. user_309277 Member
    user_309277
    @AdamKoslin

    The answer can be found in a new study by a pair of Emory political scientists.  I posted this on the Member Feed a couple of days ago.  Executive summary: people nowadays are more concerned with hating the other side than they are with supporting their own.  During the aughts the left had a super-easy time pointing out everything that was bad about conservatives, and to a certain extent that has carried over.  However, no-one has a constructive vision that actually appeals to people, so there’s no real groundswell to change the status quo.

    • #22
  23. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    I almost always regret reading a David Brooks piece, and this was no different.  His conclusion there at the end was his typical obtuseness.  Hillary to the left and Republicans to the right?  What do you think happens in a primary?  Of course.  They will moderate in the general.

    • #23
  24. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @ArizonaPatriot

    On economic issues, remember this graph?

    ObamaStimulusPromiseGraphDec2012

    Obama used this to pass a roughly $800 billion “stimulus,” and then the economy performed significantly worse than his advisers predicted it would even if nothing had been done.

    Federal debt as a % of GDP doubled from 2007 to 2014 — 35.2% to 74.1% — with nothing to show for it.  Or at least nothing good.  We do have a huge number of new recipients of food stamps, other welfare, and SS disability.

    Obama is also revealed as a deceiver on social issues, especially SSM.  It boggles my mind that the pro-SSM Left can now argue that opposition to SSM is pure evil bigotry, when it was the official campaign position of the most Left-wing President in our history about 2 1/2 years ago.  I would think that this would result in the type of cognitive dissonance that had Norman’s ears smoking in that great Harry Mudd Star Trek episode.

    But I forget — the Leftists knew that Obama was lying, and couldn’t care less.  They probably admire him for it.

    So — the Left is revealed to be: (1) either lying or clueless about economic and fiscal issues and (2) lying about social issues.  Apparently there remain a sufficient number of “swing” voters who care about the truth to have shifted control back to the right.

    • #24
  25. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Percival:

    Casey:Liberalism is dead. Things are changing.

    Casey, I wish it were that simple.

    It is that simple.  Politics is incredibly simple.  It’s complete nonsense actually.

    • #25
  26. user_309277 Member
    user_309277
    @AdamKoslin

    Casey:

    Percival:

    Casey:Liberalism is dead. Things are changing.

    Casey, I wish it were that simple.

    It is that simple. Politics is incredibly simple. It’s complete nonsense actually.

    Ah, but we insist on overcomplicating it so…

    • #26
  27. user_2967 Inactive
    user_2967
    @MatthewGilley

    Peter Robinson:David Brooks in today’s New York Times:

    What’s going on here?

    Well?

    Creased trousers have gone out of style.

    • #27
  28. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Adam Koslin:The answer can be found in a new study by a pair of Emory political scientists. I posted this on the Member Feed a couple of days ago. Executive summary: people nowadays are more concerned with hating the other side than they are with supporting their own. During the aughts the left had a super-easy time pointing out everything that was bad about conservatives, and to a certain extent that has carried over. However, no-one has a constructive vision that actually appeals to people, so there’s no real groundswell to change the status quo.

    As I mentioned on your other post, I don’t think that “hating” is the correct term.  Rather, what I think we’ve seen is increasing political polarization and sorting of people into the two parties, with much less overlap than in the days of the FDR coalition.

    The Democrats are now, almost unabashedly, the party of the secular, anti-Christian, almost-socialist, America-hating Left.  The Republicans are the party of the religious, traditional Judeo-Christian, free market, defense hawk conservatives.

    It is no surprise that this sorting leads each side to have a greater disapproval of the other side.

    • #28
  29. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    1.) What did the financial crisis have to do with the right?  Nobody really believes that it did.

    2.) Nobody really cares about inequality in and of itself, they care a lot about cronyism, and faux capitalism.

    3.) Social conservatives aren’t that unpopular.  Probably more popular than the radicalizing social liberals.  Witness the beach body kerfuffle.

    4.) Most people are against mass immigration.

    Most people are risk averse and just want tomorrow to be like today except slightly better.  What they don’t like is people upsetting all the apple carts.  Every election since 2000 can be boiled down to: “OMG STOP SCREWING WITH IT,” or “HE SCREWED WITH IT NOW ITS SCREWED UP,” or “THAT GUY IS GOING TO SCREW WITH IT TOO MUCH.”

    • #29
  30. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    I think Cameron in England has some latitude.

    I think that neither Barry or the Senate majority leader have any latitude.  (As an aside it appears that Dirty Harry’s days of covering for Barry have ended.  Who would have expected that?)

    • #30
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