David Brooks is one of my favorite columnists. He's a pretty firm conservative, but he's a moderate one at that, and he definitely does not mind taking on the Republican party. I read him pretty diligently, and it is obvious he's been a fan of John McCain for a while.
It's also obvious that he likes John McCain because of who McCain aspires to be, and that is not a Republican after the order of Ronald Reagan, but a Republican after the order of Teddy Roosevelt. And that was obvious during the Republican convention, well at least before the convention became the Palin convention.
But Palin is more Bush Jr than Roosevelt, with her oil connections, her deep social conservatism, her antipathy against federal programs.
But McCain aspires to me more Teddy, someone who adores and wants to protect the environment. McCain has supported the notion to fight global warming (something Palin denies as being human caused), someone who wants to protect the lower class from government (Teddy broke up trusts and supported labor movements). The problem is that the party wants Reagan not Roosevelt, and McCain being a Senator for all of these many years, really hasn't had to think so comprehensively and it shows.
His policies are the same old, same old.
In that vain, this op ed from Brooks is remarkable.
Some very good quotes:
Goldwater’s vision was highly individualistic and celebrated a certain sort of person — the stout pioneer crossing the West, the risk-taking entrepreneur with a vision, the stalwart hero fighting the collectivist foe.
The problem is, this individualist description of human nature seems to be wrong. Over the past 30 years, there has been a tide of research in many fields, all underlining one old truth — that we are intensely social creatures, deeply interconnected with one another and the idea of the lone individual rationally and willfully steering his own life course is often an illusion.
What emerges is not a picture of self-creating individuals gloriously free from one another, but of autonomous creatures deeply interconnected with one another. Recent Republican Party doctrine has emphasized the power of the individual, but underestimates the importance of connections, relationships, institutions and social filaments that organize personal choices and make individuals what they are.
If there’s a thread running through the gravest current concerns, it is that people lack a secure environment in which they can lead their lives. Wild swings in global capital and energy markets buffet family budgets. Nobody is sure the health care system will be there when they need it. National productivity gains don’t seem to alleviate economic anxiety. Inequality strains national cohesion. In many communities, social norms do not encourage academic achievement, decent values or family stability. These problems straining the social fabric aren’t directly addressed by maximizing individual freedom.
And yet locked in the old framework, the Republican Party’s knee-jerk response to many problems is: “Throw a voucher at it.” Schools are bad. Throw a voucher. Health care system’s a mess. Replace it with federally funded individual choice. Economic anxiety? Lower some tax rate.
Really, just read the whole article.