Although most of us might not express it so starkly, in the world of American politics it is most certainly better to be feared than loved. Taking their lead directly from Niccolo Machiavelli, Republicans have become the Party to fear, the Party that will say and do anything to maintain their power. Sadly, the Democrats have not become the Party to be loved, but rather the Party to be pitied.
Brooks moves in the same New York-Washington DC circles frequented by what passes for the Democratic "intelligentsia. " Therefore, he may be correct stating that in this rarefied environment, where over-priced consultants monitor every move that politicians make and smother them with ill-considered advice, Democrats are just now turning to values.
Nonetheless, out here in the boonies, where we actually talk to real people, we 've been concerned about values for a long time. We actually worry about things like the morality of the war in Iraq, the ethics of a government that would leave poor black folks behind in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, and the mores of an Administration that worries more about the profits of big oil companies that it does about the prospects of global warming. Maybe David Brooks should get out more, talk to Democratic loyalists rather than desiccated DC pols. Because rank-and-file Dems care a lot about values.
In 2005 two prominent liberal Democrats wrote major books about values. Early in the year, progressive evangelical preacher Jim Wallis hit the best-seller list with God 's Politics. Late in the year, Jimmy Carter scored with Our Endangered Values. Given the popularity of these two books, it 's clear that rank-and-file Democrats are reading them. But not David Brooks.
Paraphrasing Bob Dylan, "Something 's happening, but you don 't know what it is, do you Mr. [Brooks]? " The N.Y. Times conservative pundit has unwittingly wandered into the middle of a fight for the heart of the Democratic Party. A battle between tactics-based apparatchiks and values-based loyalists. Between the DC-based Dem "intelligentsia " and those of us who inhabit the real world.
This is a fight that has great bearing on what should be the Democrats ' signature issues --national security. Unbeknownst to most voters, the Dems have actually prepared a sensible plan for protecting America. Only the public can 't see it because they don 't trust the Dems anymore than the trust the GOP. The latest Gallup poll "On dealing with corruption in Government, " found that only twelve percent of Americans saw the Democratic Party as more trustworthy than Republicans.
Ironically, the fight for the heart of the Democratic Party will not be decided by the issue of Iraq or the Economy or the other issues vying for media attention. This fight will be about values. What set of values will the Democrats embrace?
More about this in my next article.