New York Times “conservative” columnist David Brooks released Tuesday an all-out assault on grassroots conservatives, name-checking Ted Cruz, Newt Gingrich, Ben Carson, and Rush Limbaugh in the process.
“Basically,” writes Brooks, “the party abandoned traditional conservatism for right-wing radicalism. Republicans came to see themselves as insurgents and revolutionaries, and every revolution tends toward anarchy and ends up devouring its own.”
Full-scale panic has now set in among members of the Republican establishment. Last week, the Wall Street Journal lamented the “Republican crack-up” after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dropped out of the Speakership race, whining, “The listless economy, the failure to repeal ObamaCare or secure the border – all these disappointments supposedly can be blamed on GOP leaders who don’t fight hard enough.”
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said that Republicans were openly weeping in closets in the Capitol after McCarthy’s decision.
Now that establishment favorite Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) appears to be short of the votes necessary to replace Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), the Republican freak-out has reached epic proportions.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) said, “His critics are not true conservatives. They are radical populists who neither understand nor accept the institutions, procedures and traditions that are the basis of constitutional governance.”
That strong language, especially coming in defense of a man who helped Boehner ram through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, the auto bailout, and confiscation of CEO bonuses in the aftermath of the 2008 financial collapse, and who backs immigration legislation and budget deals that make many conservatives shudder.
But Brooks takes the cake. He describes conservatives variously as “bombastic, hyperbolic, and imbalanced,” as well as “dangerous.”
If ever anyone wondered why the conservative base feels uneasy about coastal Republican elites, this column answers that particular question.
In his column, Brooks describes conservatism as “intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible.”
But these are means, not principles. Incrementalism is generally a wonderful idea, since stability is a necessary precondition of freedom in a well-governed society. But incrementalism ceases to become an option when Democrats ram the hardest-left measures in American history down Americans’ throats while ending the filibuster, expanding the authority of the executive branch, and using legislative gambits to avoid Republican buy-in for their power grabs. Conservatism sees incrementalism as a defense to big government power – but once big government has the power, those defenses become useless.
Brooks, like many of his establishment friends, sees no real threat to constitutional principles from the left. He continues to maintain the myth that “Citizens may fall into different classes and political factions, but they are still joined by chains of affection that command ultimate loyalty and love.”
What chains of affection are those? The chains of affection between those who love liberty and limited government, and those who wish to grow government unendingly and label their opponents racist and bigots to achieve that end? What, precisely, is David Brooks smoking?
Whatever it is, it’s making Brooks rather loosey-goosey about the state of the country:
“Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced. Public figures are prisoners of their own prose styles, and Republicans from Newt Gingrich through Ben Carson have become addicted to a crisis mentality. Civilization was always on the brink of collapse. Every setback, like the passage of Obamacare, became the ruination of the republic. Comparisons to Nazi Germany became a staple. This produced a radical mind-set.”
No wonder Brooks thinks things are hunky dory – or at least were, up until those loutish conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, the moving forces behind Republican victory in 1994, showed up. Brooks never worries about the left. They’re all just bound by those “chains of affection,” as well as a shared love of creased khaki pants – a love that knows no political boundaries, as Brooks said in 2005:
I remember distinctly an image of–we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant…and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.
In 2006, the man now chiding conservatives for not trusting establishment types wrote a column titled “Run, Barack, Run.”
Those of us who actually watch President Obama on a daily basis recognize the inherent threat he and his supporters represent. That isn’t a false crisis mentality. That’s reality. Not every comparison to Nazi Germany is justified; most aren’t. But refusing to guard against the possibility of tyranny makes tyranny inevitable.
Brooks says the real problem is those troglodyte conservatives and their hatred for political compromise. “Politics is the process of making decisions amid diverse opinions,” he writes. “It involves conversation, calm deliberation, self-discipline, the capacity to listen to other points of view and balance valid but competing ideas and interests. But this new Republican faction regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption.”
No, actually. Compromising without resort to principle is corruption. And that’s just what Brooks wants. Because, after all, “Running a government is a craft, like carpentry.” Brooks simply refuses to recognize that perhaps Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama took a torch to the construction site long ago.
Brooks finishes with an appeal to the populism he supposedly despises:
These insurgents can’t even acknowledge democracy’s legitimacy — if you can’t persuade a majority of your colleagues, maybe you should accept their position. You might be wrong!
It apparently never occurs to Brooks that if establishment Republicans can’t convince a majority of their colleagues to back their play, they might be wrong. But the notion that majorities decide the right is distinctly un-conservative in and of itself: the whole point of a nation founded upon rights is that no majority can legitimize the violation of those rights.
For Brooks and the establishment, such notions are anathema. Compromise. Incrementalism. Polite conversation. These are the keystones of conservatism, they say, even in the face of an implacable political enemy hellbent on fundamentally transforming the nation’s foundational values.
Maybe that’s why we don’t trust these guys.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News, Editor-in-Chief of DailyWire.com, and The New York Times bestselling author, most recently, of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.