Count David Brooks among the shell-shocked.
We like to think of democracy as a battle of ideas and a process of individual deliberation, but this year demography has been destiny. The campaigns have pushed us back into our tribal bunkers. Americans now seem more clannish, and more incomprehensible to one another.
Politics is downstream from culture. Celebrate a trashy, splintery culture long enough, all will be trash and splinters.

While you were admiring the crease of Mr Obama's trousers, Mr Brooks, signs of unraveling were there if you'd but open your eyes.
The moral health of the polity is in even scarier shape. Any decent society rests on codes of etiquette and a shared moral ecology to make cooperation possible, to prevent economic and political life from descending into a savage war of all against all.
Codes of etiquette and a shared moral ecology?  Otherwise known as stifling bourgeois norms, or as narratives to be interrogated and deconstructed?  Have fun navigating the wreckage.

It wasn't Mr Trump who put sneer quotes around words like truth and fact.
With his constant, flagrant and unapologetic lying, he has shredded the standards of intellectual virtue — the normal respect for facts and truth that makes conversation possible. With his penchant for cruelty, bigotry, narcissism, selfishness and even his primitive primate dominance displays, he has shredded the accepted understandings of personal morality that prevent the strong from preying on the weak.
If Mr Trump isn't an Old White Guy, might his "primitive primate dominance displays" be hailed as authentic?  Mr Brooks, without the proper moral foundations for a common culture, a third political party for alienated Democrats and Republicans -- there are plenty of both types today -- is just more "whatever, dude."

Last week Thursday, Chris Matthews brought on Andrew Sullivan, who, when he's not obsessing over Trig Palin's parentage, can come up with insightful stuff.  He ... almost alone, among the usual suspects on MSNBC, anticipated a Trump win, and here's his take on the identity politics that midwived it.
SULLIVAN: And the left is partly responsible. The left has promoted identity politics for a generation. They`ve said all that matters is what you are, whether you`re a Latino, whether you`re black. And now, white people are saying, well, we can play that game, too. And that`s what`s fueling Trump –
More precisely, the identity politics left has been making the simple complicated, dragging in the multiple oppressions of race, class, gender, there may be more these days.  Too often, though, it's not to make an intellectual argument, rather it's to enable difference and call it authenticity or transgressivity or something.  But when white folks dealing with the oppressions of class or gender get upset, that's a temper tantrum.  Or deplorable.  (To Mr Matthews's credit, he's been digging for root causes.)

No comments: