David Brooks has been the purported Times conservative columnists for years and occasionally he has a good point. This is not one of those times.
Mr. Brooks seems to be ridiculing those of us (and yes, count me in this group) concerned that America is in a period of decline, economically, militarily, culturally, etc. He goes onto list of the points about New York, arguably the once greatest city in the country. If you wonder why I call it "once", ask why people are fleeing it left and right. But this paragraph is of particular interest.
"... I mention all of this because of the despondency and passivity and talk of unraveling that floated around this summer. Now there is a mood of pessimism and fatalism evident in the polls and in conversations — a lack of faith in ourselves.No kidding Dave. That last major pieces of legislation, passed by a Democratic congress and signed by a Democratic president included the movement to single payer health care (Obamacare), taking over the banking industry (Dodd-Frank) and upping the federal budget baseline for liberal constituencies. Sorry, we can live without this. And Dave, don't you think we have enough laws on the books? How about we start repealing them?
It’s important in times like these to step back and get clarity. The truest thing to say is this: We are living in an amazingly fortunate time. But we also happen to be living during a leadership crisis, and a time when few people have faith in elites to govern from the top. We live in a vibrant society that is not being led.
We don’t suffer from an abuse of power as much as a nonuse of power. It’s been years since a major piece of legislation was passed, and there’s little prospect that one will get passed in the next two.
Now this paragraph made me really think.
This leadership crisis is eminently solvable. First, we need to get over the childish notion that we don’t need a responsible leadership class, that power can be wielded directly by the people. America was governed best when it was governed by a porous, self-conscious and responsible elite — during the American revolution, for example, or during and after World War II. Karl Marx and Ted Cruz may believe that power can be wielded directly by the masses, but this has almost never happened historically.
This has been a question of the last few years, the Washington Class vs the Country Class. Dave, you mention the American Revolution and I don't question we had a group of extraordinary men who led this country back then. Now there is something we should look at. George Washington, for instance, was quite an accomplished man prior to his name even coming into the public realm. Adjusting for inflation, his wealth would be in the hundreds of millions as a very successful plantation owner. Thomas Jefferson was also a successful in his education, finishing his college in two years, working as a surveyor. Benjamin Franklin, successful in publication with relatively little education. Suffice to say they were men of accomplishment before they ever got into what we would now call "national politics".
Fast forward two-hundred years and what do we have. More on the liberal side than the Republican side, but you have people of no accomplishment claiming they know how to lead this nation. Examples:
1. B Hussein Obama. Of course, top of the list. I've often asked an Obamaite "In November 2008, you look at the two candidates (I don't question it was a miserable choice, but that's another post for another day) and how do you think this man is worthy of the highest office in the land? What has he done that makes you think he has the intelligence, experience and accomplishment to handle this job?" For a man-child who's only accomplishments was being selected by the Illinois machine for a senate seat after spending ten years in the state senate saying "present", this was quite a leap. And the years since have shown he is in over his ears.
2. Mrs. Bill Clinton. Talk about a woman who is out of her capability. No question, she was an honor graduate of Ivy League law school and probably had some great opportunities coming to her. However, she hitched her wagon to him and went to Arkansas, knowing Bill would go places. And she endured one abuse after another so she could become the senator from a state she has no attachment to. Name me one major piece of legislation with her name on it? Then she is selected as Secretary of State and her only accomplishment is flying over a million miles in 4 years.
3. Joe Biden. Just graduated law school, elected to the senate just before his 30th birthday, has spent his entire life in the senate until he was elected VP, only really famous for sticking his foot in his mouth, plagiarizing and running for president.
4. Charlie Rangle. Crook and Congressmen. That's all.
5. Pat Roberts: Other than being a USMC captain and reporter, the man has been on Capital Hill for over 45 years. Beginning as an administrative assistant to a congressman, then as a member of the house, then as a senator.
6. One word. Kennedy. Enough said.
7. Another word. Rockefeller. Again, enough said.
I've got my disagreements with George W Bush but I don't question he was a man of accomplishment and got his money openly. For some reason couples that go into "public service" come out very rich. The Clinton's are worth hundreds of millions and as far as I can tell have never held a real job.
Second, the elite we do have has to acknowledge that privilege imposes duties. Wealthy people have an obligation to try to follow a code of seemliness. No luxury cars for college-age kids. No private jet/ski weekends. Live a lifestyle that is more integrated into middle-class America than the one you can actually afford. Strike a blow for social cohesion.
I don't care if Teddy Kennedy inherited his fortune from his daddy's bootlegging or Bobby Kennedy has money from directly from daddy and indirectly his granddaddy's illegal activities. But I don't want them telling me to get into an oversize gulf cart as they get into a private jet and SUV. I really don't care if Mitt Romney has 7 houses. He's actually made the money to buy them and hasn't said I need to pay more in taxes
Powerful people might follow a code of public spiritedness. That means restraining your partisan passions and parochial interests for the sake of domestic tranquility. Re-establish the lines between public service and private enrichment.
May want to try with the liberals and their screaming. Remember, "I am sick and tired of people who say if you debate and disagree with this administration that somehow you are not patriotic, we should stand up and say we are Americans 'We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!'" But for some reason that don't count B Hussein Obama.
Third, discredit political bigotry. In 1960, 5 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats said they would be displeased if their children married someone of the opposite party. By 2010, Cass Sunstein observes, those numbers had jumped to 49 percent and 33 percent. How small-minded can you get?
Couldn't care less.
Fourth, put congressional reform atop the national agenda. More states could have open primaries. Nonpartisan commissions could draw district lines. Presidential nominees should get an up-or-down vote within 90 days. Representative Jim Cooper of Tennessee suggests that if Congress doesn’t pass a budget or annual spending bills on time, then members don’t get paid.
One, Dave, we all know open primaries only means let's liberal Republicans (you know, RINOs, e.g the Grahams that you like) win primaries because the Democrats will cross over. This gives the American people the choice of suck more and suck slightly less. And we both know anything that's called "nonpartisan" is basically liberal without the name. Also, for some reason you are conceded about presidential nominees getting an up or down vote. Gee, you din't seem so conceded from 2001 to 2009. I wonder why?
There is a reason the NY Times is a joke. But don't worry Dave, B Hussein still has the great crease in his trousers!