What Happened To American Conservatism, David?

Contact Your Elected Officials

I went kicking and screaming into David Brooks’ Atlantic scold, knowing, full well it would be exhaustingly predictable, repetitive as Ray Babbit and perfectly absurd in its aim. I wasn’t the least bit disappointed. I mean, who could have predicted the overflow of race, brutalism and anti-intellectualism, words now wholly abused by the left, corporate media, academia and dust bins like Brooks, rendering them, and the speakers, meaningless, would be the primary indictment once again levied by a man of fluff to his audience of feather, typed in a font of poor Burkean quick hit references, and all in the name of claiming conservatism for the self-facing effete, the uncalloused and the un-callused? How many catalogues of self appreciating, self serving, virtue proving articles written by same guys whose only exercise in conservatism has been careers of tickling keyboards in dissent of conservatives, and decades of removing the Left’s lost boots from their respective colons, can a boy tolerate?

I went in anyway. My penance for the revisiting the nearly healed self-harm follows in the dissection of the below.

Brooks starts out by a quick water color brush on categories of political camp philosophies, the conditions of which became the sport of incivil war, waged by uncivil brutes, and the personal internalizations of that warfare upon its participants, some of whom went to school and saved the universe by the depth of their parchment.

He tries to set the stage for his indictment of the deplorables and the Orange reprobate by dragging a poor cadet from Gascony who served in the French military for a half century, Blaise de Monluc by reducing him to, merely a bloodthirsty murderer, apparently for the sake of murder, so to paste violence onto his arraignment of the poor slobs who might again vote for Trump, without discussing the context of the conflict or mentioning Monluc’s life long commitment to the Crown, or that he endure three sons shot, two killed at the hands of the enemy. He gets even this lead in wrong, but that’s an argument of a different stripe, and I presume, not really of much interest to Brooks anyway. His is a much more erudite pursuit of hall monitoring, if of course, one’s feelings can be quantified in the constructs of erudition. In any event, let’s carve out the soft tissue article.

“The urgent task was this: how to construct a society that wouldn’t devolve into bitter polarization and tribal bloodbaths. One camp, which we associate with the French Enlightenment, put its faith in reason. Some thought a decent social order can be built when primitive passions like religious zeal are marginalized and tamed; when individuals are educated to use their highest faculty, reason, to pursue their enlightened self-interest; and when government organizes society using the tools of science.”

“Religious zeal”. “Reasoned”. “Enlightened” and finally, “Cultivated rightly”. Here it comes, the Homestead Act of soy production with Brooks placing his flag firmly in the ground in the form of one loaded question, one corrupted land claim and one presupposition after another.

Ok, lets’s take em one at a time

“Donald trump is the near-opposite of the Burkean conservatism…How did a movement built on sympathy and wisdom lead to a man who possesses neither?”

Is it sympathy and wise to end the endless wars, replete with endless destructions of property, mass human displacements and lost generational hopes for millions, and by the way, for millions yet born?

Was there a even scintilla sympathy stitched into every peace deal signed by the boorish bastard with the bad hair? Because here we are mere days into the Biden show and I cannot remember a time where I’ve seen more sabers being rattled by more talentless arbiters of Burkean intention.

 “How did a movement that put such importance on the moral formation of the individual end up elevating an unashamed moral degenerate?”

  • How did…? Because real job creation, real entrepreneurial opportunity, and behind those, the independence either, or both, provide, an elevation which accompanies the man traveling on his own pure conduit of familial purpose, and as a consequence arrives at self-worth, and whose life, however anonymous, supersedes the man in possession of a good computer and an editor at the ready, who types his moral scripts, slashing away his censures, condemnations denunciations, incriminations and recriminations, but lives neither the text of the script, nor possesses the ability, or the care to lay the ground for any of those lofty atmospheres about which only his thumbs speak to?

“How did a movement built on an image of society as a complex organism give rise to the simplistic dichotomies of manipulative populism?”

What on earth does this even mean? It means nothing. It exists as a, don’t bother, rubes, you don’t have the capacity to understand the complexities, so stop running for the school boards and the committees. In fact, stop trying to be the “we the people”. We’ll tell you when to vote, and for whom. Brooks later laments the diminution of the soy boys in the hood, conservatives as “a collection of intellectuals, activists, politicians, journalists, and others aligned with the Republican Party—was just a parenthesis in history, a parenthesis that is now closing.”

He can’t yet, despite the tectonic shift in political party amalgamations, see why? Stunning.

He there seeks an audience with the manager, yearns for the headier days of inebriated voters, and suffers the unrequited results. “Maybe it’s impossible to hold together a movement that is both backward-looking and forward-looking, both in love with stability and addicted to change, both go-go materialist and morally rooted”, while never standing and fighting for any of it. He thought referencing dead philosophers and passing back and forth with other clever scribes each other’s clever whines, over wines, would be enough to turn the trick, only to find both the losing hand and behind it a societal moral incontinence.

Brooks goes straight downhill from here.

“The reasons conservatism devolved into Trumpism are many. First, race. Conservatism makes sense only when it is trying to preserve social conditions that are basically healthy. America’s racial arrangements are fundamentally unjust. To be conservative on racial matters is a moral crime.”

Without even a glance at why race today is “unhealthy” to the body politic, Brooks just asserts it as a condition, a condition owned by well, pigment and party, and then bows to racial strife in the form of a full throated capitulation.

Nothing Brook’s brand of conservativism has done seeks to ameliorate the condition of blacks in America, other than assigning blame, and in this who not why, is a large part of why people like Marjorie Taylor Green “don’t even know who he is”. She’s not lying. The Brooks crew of conservative has, despite decades of writing ostensibly the same article over and over, has so enfeebled themselves, and their schtick, that the most prominent voices are wholly unaware of the sound. Real conservatism sees the remedy to the race question as a protection of the minority, the minority of one. Did any conservative before the likes of Brooks ever advocate policy, program or principle behind the vague all encompassing “dog whistle”?
It’s not conservatism, it’s a bunch of foils begging, “Please don’t take away my seat at the table”.

“Second, economics. Conservatism is essentially an explanation of how communities produce wisdom and virtue…”


 Nope, what happened was elected officials sold virtue to their constituents, buoyed by the echoing of Brooks and Will et al, but were really selling themselves and their offices, out. The true conservative, millions and millions strong, lived busily, mostly virtuously, pursuing wonderfully, but trusting both the official and the “conservative” writers, well. badly.

 Trump drew the curtain back. It’s not Trumpism you see from there, it’s, “Dammit we’ve been hoodwinked by the one, and anesthetized by the other”! 

Here’s where we get to the heart of the matter. And to the single thing barnacles adhere to as if it’s the last of their oxygen

“Trumpism is pre-Enlightenment. Trumpian authoritarianism doesn’t renounce holy war; it embraces holy war, assumes it is permanent, in fact seeks to make it so. In the Trumpian world, disputes are settled by raw power and intimidation. The Trumpian epistemology is to be anti-epistemology, to call into question the whole idea of truth, to utter whatever lie will help you get attention and power.”

Brooks leaves out one word in this rant about epistemology, “our”. What he really means is Trump voters, almost all of whom aren’t members of the Jussie Smollett-David Brooks version of Trumpism, they’re closer to Burke than Brooks. Trump opened the door for them to reject the wild Left’s epistemology and the quagmire epistemology which Brooks and Will carved out for themselves, together at once.

“Trumpism looks at the tender sentiments of sympathy as weakness.” Well, when one uses “tender sentiments” to altogether misdirect from matters policy and his own prejudice, as who can argue? But hold on. Check that. when millions and millions of regular folk ask, “Hey, my fingernails are gone from digging in the ungracious soil and biting them down to the elbow worrying for my kids, how about a little tenderness”, the epistemology looks a lot like an eviction notice.

“On the right, especially among the young, the populist and nationalist forces are rising. All of life is seen as an incessant class struggle between oligarchic elites and the common volk. History is a culture-war death match. Today’s mass-market, pre-Enlightenment authoritarianism is not grateful for the inherited order but sees menace pervading it: You’ve been cheated. The system is rigged against you. Good people are dupes. Conspiracists are trying to screw you. Expertise is bogus. Doom is just around the corner. I alone can save us.”

Brooks misses the whole thing here. Intentionally. The populism he assails isn’t first national, it’s living room first, where from their duct taped chair it insists it no longer can abide sending generational opportunity abroad, so to enrich the few, while steadfastly refusing to protect economic opportunity at home. It’s economic populism first. It’s the reason Hispanics are flocking to the “rise”. It’s why blacks in droves are also climbing over the barbed wire to join. What both groups are refreshingly discovering, is that they too have been hoodwinked, that it’s never been an “I alone”, it’s a, “we together” which can save us!

You can almost feel Brooks getting desperate as his schtick, out of gas, stalls.

“Trumpian Republicanism plunders, degrades, and erodes institutions for the sake of personal aggrandizement.”

Economic Populism plunders, degrades and erodes institutions, not for personal aggrandizement”, but because the leviathan they’ve become through corruption and massive mission abdication, made them wholly worthy of the dismantling. The new conservative doesn’t want the end of institutions, but it certainly doesn’t want to just allow for the hanging of blackout curtains on the windows and then pontificate about what’s going on inside as Brooks and Will have done for decades, it wants to collapse the rotten structures and build them anew.

Here we enter the uncritical of a mind spiraling down, know his industry is three more monster podcasts away from obscurity. The protestation of a holdout who knows, when Steve Jobs’ wife gets bored of it all and closes the spigot at the Atlantic, so too will she close its doors.

“Trumpians live in a state of perpetual war, they need to continually invent existential foes—critical race theory, nongendered bathrooms, out-of-control immigration.”

First, and as an aside, it’s comical that guys like Brooks still think “Trumpians” is a pejorative. Trump came down the escalator five years ago. Five. Conservative Inc has been pushing Americans into perpetual war for decades, and erecting end of days scenarios for a lot longer than that. The fights over CRT, and whether the misgivings of mothers concerning bathroom accompaniment by forty year old men are warranted, are in their infancy. And for the record, there will be two million uninvited, unchecked, unvaccinated, unvetted and unmanageable illegal aliens lining up for benefits this year alone. But ya know, meh, why the rub, ya filthy rubes?

The rest of Brooks’ piece is a sort of molasses bath of abstracts about tenderness and quoting other men who fought on other fields, all sounding sweeter than honey, and noble enough to make the Royals envious, but leaving you in need of an after bath shower and a change of clothes.

What happened to American Conservatism, David? Maybe if you were looking at what was happening to the American Left when you gave them the keys to the safe and the classrooms, boardrooms and restrooms, instead of merely perpetually defining for us the next abstruse meaning of conservatism, same as the last definition only with new accoutrement, all of which by the way never made an actual stance, or guarded a door, you’d get closer to the target.

Biden Doesn't Have Americans Best Interest At Heart