Thursday, February 01, 2007

Um, stick to the Bobos, David Brooks

Greenwald does a great take-down of Brooks' recent Times Column (which you probably can't read because it's behind a subscription wall):
One of the most common tactics among pundits of all types, but particularly Bush-supporting and pro-war pundits, is to take whatever their own personal opinion happens to be, and then -- rather than stating that opinion and providing rationale or documentation for it -- they instead preface it with the phrase "Americans believe" or "most Americans think," thereby anointing themselves as Spokesman for The American People and casting the appearance that they speak on behalf of the Silent, Noble American Majority.

Not only do they make these assertions about what "Americans believe" and what "the country wants" with no empirical evidence of any kind, but worse -- especially now that "Americans" have come to overwhelmingly reject them and their belief system -- they equate their own views with what "Americans want" in the face of mountains of empirical evidence which proves that the opposite is true. John McCain, as but one example, does this almost every time he speaks about Iraq and what "Americans think" about the war.
"Just say no" to pseudo-majoritarian appeals! David Brooks has yet to update his database on where America actually is on the issue of military interventionism.

I used to be frustrated because I felt the American public was further to the right than me on some issues that I cared about (e.g. drug prohibition and gay marriage). But that concern has been completely overshadowed by the fact that this administration is far to the right of where the American people are. A lot of today's "political consensus" is not based on what the majority of Americans think, but rather which lobby groups are better funded, which people are considered "mainstream and serious" by the punditocracy, etc.

One very beneficial side effect of all this is that the progressive cause is now a majoritarian cause. No longer must progressives try to drag the American people leftward. Rather, progressives must drag the government leftward to where the American people already are. I think it is far easier to change the character of a government than to change the character of a people. The November 2006 elections were the beginning of a re-assertion of the political will of the American people, one that I hope will continue to unfold in 2008.

Of course, I'd like it if the American people moved leftward. And on the issues of drug prohibition and gay marriage, my sense is that we are moving that way. But this administration doesn't seem to care where the American people are. And David Brooks doesn't seem to know where the American people are (at least as far its appetite for warmongering is concerned). It is the job of the progressive movement to oppose the former (and replace it if necessary) and call bullshit on the latter.

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