David Brooks on Moderates

August 23, 2017

David Brooks' August 22, 2017 column in the New York Times (which showed up on Facebook) was "What Moderates Believe." Here are some quotes:

 

For some people, the warriors of the populist right must be replaced by warriors of the populist left. ... For others, it's Trump's warrior mentality itself that must be replaced. Warriors on one side inevitably call forth warriors on the other, and that just means more culture war, more barbarism, more dishonesty and more dysfunction. The people in this camp we will call moderates.

 

Moderation is not an ideology; it's a way of coping with the complexity of the world. Moderates tend to embrace certain ideas:

  The truth is plural. There is no one and only correct answer to the big political questions.

  Politics is a limited activity. ... Moderates believe government can create a platform upon which the beautiful things in life can flourish. 

      But it cannot itself provide those beautiful things. Government can create economic and physical security and a just order ...

  Creativity is syncretistic. Creativity happens when you merge galaxies of belief that seem at first blush incompatible. 

  In politics, the lows are lower than the highs are high. The harm government does when it screws up is larger than the benefits        

      government produces when it does well.

  Truth before justice. All political movements must face inconvenient facts.

  Beware the danger of a single identity.

  Partisanship is necessary but blinding. Partisan debate sharpens opinion, but partisans tend to justify their own sins by pointing 

      to the other side's sins. ... Moderates are problematic members of their party. They tend to be hard on their peers and sympathetic

      to their foes.

  Humility is the fundamental virtue. Humility is  radical self-awareness from a position outside yourself--a form of radical honesty.

 

I recommend everyone read the whole article. Having said that, Brooks doesn't represent what I believe particularly well. For example, I tend to agree in general with one side or the other on many issues. I'm a fiscal conservative, meaning the federal government should have a long-term relatively balanced budget (e.g., modest surpluses are expected with the economy has been booming for a considerable time), which should be a conservative position. I also believe in universal health care. This should be almost everyone's position for obvious reasons, but only liberals are pushing it (note that Medicare for all is not necessarily the best answer). I also believe that people on both sides (all sides?) should favor education, infrastructure and healthcare as public policy concerns.  

 

 

 

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