My response to David Brooks in the NYT

I rarely read conservative columnists.  Not enough hours in the day to read writers I agree with.  For some reason this morning
I decided to read David Brooks column:

The Class War Before Palin

in which he laments about the current bent of the Republican Party.

But over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.

Over the past 15 years, the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts.

He continued with his argument, detailing the decline from his perspective:

The political effects of this trend have been obvious. Republicans have alienated the highly educated regions -- Silicon Valley, northern Virginia, the suburbs outside of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Raleigh-Durham. The West Coast and the Northeast are mostly gone.

The Republicans have alienated whole professions. Lawyers now donate to the Democratic Party over the Republican Party at 4-to-1 rates. With doctors, it's 2-to-1. With tech executives, it's 5-to-1. With investment bankers, it's 2-to-1. It took talent for Republicans to lose the banking community.

Conservatives are as rare in elite universities and the mainstream media as they were 30 years ago. The smartest young Americans are now educated in an overwhelmingly liberal environment.

It was this section that made me stop and think.  Though I don't teach at an elite university, my students are overwhelmingly Democrats.  I also started to think about Republicans in my own family.  Why were they Republicans and why am I not?

He finally got around to discussing his view of Sarah Palin, and how her selection symbolizes this new shift:

This year could have changed things. The G.O.P. had three urbane presidential candidates. But the class-warfare clichés took control. Rudy Giuliani disdained cosmopolitans at the Republican convention. Mitt Romney gave a speech attacking "eastern elites." (Mitt Romney!) John McCain picked Sarah Palin.

Palin is smart, politically skilled, courageous and likable. Her convention and debate performances were impressive. But no American politician plays the class-warfare card as constantly as Palin. Nobody so relentlessly divides the world between the "normal Joe Sixpack American" and the coastal elite.

She is another step in the Republican change of personality. Once conservatives admired Churchill and Lincoln above all -- men from wildly different backgrounds who prepared for leadership through constant reading, historical understanding and sophisticated thinking. Now those attributes bow down before the common touch.

I cringed reading his assessment of Palin as "likeable".  She is anathema to me, and the current tone of xenophobia and racism being whipped up by the Palin/McCain duo repels and frightens me. I found it laughable that he cites her debate performance "impressive".  

No mention of the sewer filled with vitriol that is now the Republican campaign.

So for the first time in my life, I wrote a comment to him in the comments section of the Times.  I wrote carefully, but doubted that it would be printed, and if it was printed it would be buried in a host of laudatory responses.  

Much to my surprise, when I got home this evening I found that the editors had selected my response to be one of those that was highlighted.  This was a first for me, and I've been commenting at the Times for a long while.

Thought I would share it with you here: ments/2008/10/10/opinion/10brooks.html?p ermid=432#comment432

All Editors' Selections » EDITORS' SELECTIONS
October 10, 2008 11:34 am

I was raised by Republican grandparents. One of whom was black. My grandfather loved his party, proudly proclaiming to all and sundry his feelings about "the Party of Lincoln". My grandmother, a white woman from Kansas, was as middle America as one could be. Proud of her descendancy from forebears who fought in the American Revolution, the Mexican War, the Civil War; she was a poster child of American values.

Your party has no place in it for me, and millions like me. I am educated, female, fiscally conservative but socially responsible. I watched your convention, remembering my grandparents active participation in your party and I wept. There would have been no seat for them there.

My grandmother, a lady of the old-school, would not have invited Sarah Palin to her kitchen table, nor into her parlor. My grandfather, who was an advocate of education and hard work, in the style of Booker T Washington, would be aghast at the anti-intellectualism on display.

I don't usually read your column, but today I did, and it struck a chord. I am responding for them. I achieved the dreams my grandparents wanted for me. A college education, a home and a family. At the age of 61, after a life of work I can now think about retiring, or I could, until my future was destroyed by politicians in collusion with Wall Street.

Yes, I am bitter. I will continue to teach until my health fails, and I pray I will have coverage. I will report to you that my students are all Democrats -except for one. Most come from Republican conservative upstate NY homes. They see no place for them at your table either.

The recent displays of hatred and vitriol at Republican campaign events have left them aghast. They are this nations future, and you have lost them. All but one, and he is embarrassed to admit openly his party affiliation. He shared it with me privately. I patted him on the shoulder and reassured him, that what was important was for him to participate in our Democratic process, and shared with him the story of my grandparents. But now I regret that sop to his feelings. Your party does not deserve him. He is a fine young man. I hate to see him tarnished by what has become a place for the dregs, the Know Nothings and the haters. Those of you who are still capable of cogent thought should fight to wrest your party back from those who now resemble most Germany's Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei.

The Republican Party is dead. An ugly doppleganger has risen in its place.

-- Denise Oliver-Velez, Saugerties, NY
Recommended by 286 Readers

I owed this response to my grandparents.  Many people don't know the history of black Americans and the Republican Party.  I admit that I am astonished when I see the few opportunist blacks who have become a mainstay in pundit-land, trotted out to attempt to colorize what has increasingly been a party that is monochrome.  They are simply window-dressing.  

I know that if my grandparents were alive today, they too would be Obamacans.  

Tags: David Brooks, New York Times, Obamacans, Republican Party, Sarah Palin (all tags)



Mojo for more Obamacans

by NeciVelez 2008-10-10 04:45PM | 0 recs
Could I ask you to post this on the Moose?

I'd like to see it front paged.

by chrisblask 2008-10-10 07:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Could I ask you to post this on the Moose?

Sure Chris,

How do I do that?

by NeciVelez 2008-10-10 08:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Could I ask you to post this on the Moose?

It's just a blog, much the same as here.

Make an account, click "new diary" and post.  You can save all the re-formatting by doing an "edit diary" here and copying the formatted code into your new diary.  One of the Moose editors will FP it when it hopefully won't get run over by the news cycle.

by chrisblask 2008-10-10 08:39PM | 0 recs

The anti-intellectualism the GOP is promoting is a death trap for American economy because for every potential scientist who is discouraged from studying the sciences, we lose a chance at having helped nurture potential genius.

All of our economic wealth comes from innovation and new technology.

If kids dont have the skills or knowledge to innovate, instead spending their energy in law or business, we will become a nation of salesman or "legal" con artists.. producing little of real lasting wealth or value and trying to make up for that lack with excuses, lies and fancy economic manipulations that often lead to messes like we are in now.

I really fear for our future. How will we explain this decline to our children?

by architek 2008-10-10 10:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Could I ask you to post this on the Moose?

I will try.  

by NeciVelez 2008-10-11 06:04AM | 0 recs
Registered at Moose

but they never sent me an email to login - will try again .

by NeciVelez 2008-10-11 06:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Could I ask you to post this on the Moose?


That would be great if you put this on the Moose. I've always admired your diaries.

Oddly enough I wrote a comment on the Brooks article: I think I was the first because of UK time it had no comments at that point. But I put a  link in it which probably stopped it being posted. And besides...

Your comment was infinitely more powerful, personal and telling.

Modern conservatism has imploded: we are watching the crazy racist fundamentalist rump remain

by brit 2008-10-11 01:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Could I ask you to post this on the Moose?

I just did :)

by NeciVelez 2008-10-11 07:21AM | 0 recs
thank you

i too hardly ever read david brooks though i have enjoyed the conversation with gail.

a beautiful letter though....thank you for posting.

by citizendave 2008-10-10 05:11PM | 0 recs
Re: My response to David Brooks in the NYT

I also read Brooks' column, and I have no sympathy for him or other educated republicans who now feel alienated fromn their own party.  Rove and his ilk fostered anti-intellectualism as a means of winning elections.  I didn't hear Brooks or Will complaining while the GOP was winning.  

by half nelson 2008-10-10 05:15PM | 0 recs
Re: My response to David Brooks in the NYT

Brooks was one of those conservatives who agitated against Harry Miers when Bush picked her for the supreme court. David is a bright guy and when he's not apologizing for his party and test driving pug talking points you almost think he has a soul. almost.  But, he lauded Sarah's debate performance, and so that really says all we need to know about his so-called intelligence. Or, he didn't have the power to scuttle her?  

by anna shane 2008-10-10 05:26PM | 0 recs
Re: My response to David Brooks in the NYT

 A beautifully written,moving, and hard hitting letter.

by Lodgemannered 2008-10-10 05:26PM | 0 recs
Mojo'd and rec'ed

The party of Lincoln is dead. The nationalist pseudo-fascist wave is here. To quote Sinclair: "When fascism comes to America, it will come draped in the flag carrying the cross." Sound familiar?

by SocialDem 2008-10-10 05:32PM | 0 recs

As always, I stand in awe of your way with words.

Words are all we have, and you handle them with incredible grace.

Thank you.


by chrisblask 2008-10-10 07:29PM | 0 recs
Your response hit the mark

Thanks for sharing.

I am a retired teacher, just two years older than you.  But I am substituting almost daily.  I am tired but I fear the future and until I make it to Medicare my health care premiums continue to go up, co pays up.  

I have been a life long democrat.  My parents were somewhat apolitical except they did vote for JFK (he was Catholic and they were immigrants who happen to be catholic too).  

But I became a democrat when I registered. I never got the republicans. I felt they did not care about poor people.  
I hope your letter makes an impact on Brooks but I doubt it will.

by Jjc2008 2008-10-10 07:30PM | 0 recs
I'm also holding out till Medicare

and Social Security - I hope they still have it next year!

by NeciVelez 2008-10-10 08:29PM | 0 recs
Re: My response to David Brooks in the NYT
Beautiful response. You do your grandparents proud. Thank you for sharing this with us.
by royce 2008-10-10 08:19PM | 0 recs
I doubt it will even be read by Brooks

I hope it might reach some wavering Republicans however.

by NeciVelez 2008-10-10 08:20PM | 0 recs
Terrific post

And an excellent response. Measured, tactful (until the Nazi reference, yet which was still apropos), you hit all the right points.

I especially applaud your take on the one Republican student of yours. I know many Republicans whom I consider friends and I have great respect for them. That their party has taken such a dangerous detour makes me thing, like you, that the GOP is undeserving of their loyalty.

by Spiffarino 2008-10-10 10:36PM | 0 recs
Re: My response to David Brooks in the NYT

I love your diaries, NV.
There are a lot of conservatives that are horrified at what's happened to their party, some have even left the "Dark Side" to support Barack Obama.
One excellent example here from a former publisher of the National Review:
A Conservative For Obama

Here's a quote from the article:

But today it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don't work. The Bush tax cuts--a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war--led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his "conservative" credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.

Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world "safe for democracy." It is John McCain who says America's job is to "defeat evil," a theological expansion of the nation's mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.

This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.

The comments after the article are very enlightening as well.

by skohayes 2008-10-11 02:44AM | 0 recs
Re: My response to David Brooks in the NYT

Beautifully written. I highly recommended everyone read your diary. I have sent a link to everyone in email address book.

I commented to my brother last night that I experienced the worst kind of deja vu yesterday when I watched Obama speaking - the "It's easy to rile up a crowd' speech. My reptilian brain kept superimposing the faces of RFK and MLK over Obama's face. I felt as though I were about to faint.

My brother said he had felt it, too.

by QTG 2008-10-11 03:01AM | 0 recs
Hey's how Democrats lost me

(I used to live in Saugerties, and grew up in Sawkill --just a few minutes from Woodstock. Do you ever go to that garlic festival in Saugerties?)

I could essentially write the same type of article of how the Democratic party lost ME.  I grew up in a Republican household, in a small Republican town.  I was constantly the black sheep of the family, always questioning Republican policies and motives.  When I was old enough to vote, I voted Democratic, and was proud to do so.  I always felt that Republicans just didn't care about every day people, and Democrats did.  I voted for Jimmy Carter.  I felt he got a bad rap on the economy, and the Iran crisis.  I voted for Mondale.  I voted for Dukakis (what a couple of bad candidates!).  Finally, Bill Clinton came in, and I happily voted for him, twice.

But as I got older, I also saw the mistakes of the Great Society mentality and the welfare state.  Welfare never helped many people (come on, let's be honest), and, instead, locked many in to a cycle where they could never escape their economic reality.  Building high-rise projects for the poor with no security and no protection from criminals. Sure, it was all based on trying to do the "right thing", but it was a failure.  

I eventually moved to NYC, and it was an appalling place to be.  Miscreants running wild, obnoxious and agressive squeegee guys harrassing you at every corner in a car, panhandlers accosting you on the street at all times.  It was a city essentially out of control, and no one felt safe.  Democrats ran NYC, and ran it into the ground.  There was no sense of order whatsoever.  And, it was expensive as hell to live because there were so damn many programs to fund that had zero accountability attached to them.  

Today, post-Giuliani- NYC has never been safer.  It has never been a more vibrant place to live.  Yeah, Giuliani was a bully, in many respects, but insofar as dealing with crime and social order, this city needed it.  Bloomberg has continued many of the policies put in place during the Rudy era.  Businesses have come back.  Times Square was cleaned up from its seedy past, and is now quite family-friendly.  While I'm always aware of my surroundings, I feel as safe here as I would almost anywhere.  You can't discount how important that is to people's daily existence.  

This is why I wish there were a happy medium between the two parties, and probably why we need a third party.  I want common-sense leadership in my government.  I liked Bill Clinton's DLC approach, and wish the Democratic party stayed closer to the center, where, I might add, the OVERWHELMING majority of Americans live, politically.  

"Tax the Rich" isn't going to work, because the rich are always going to find places to shelter their money.  Raising capital gains taxes to exorbitant amounts?  Who's making any capital gains right now?  All I see are losses, and they will continue for many years.  

I believe in safety nets for people who don't have the means, but with that, I fully expect responsibility, too.  I expect accountability for programs that are using MY money.  If they aren't working, they should be de-funded.  Who in the Democratic party is asking for accountability?  

I wish there could be a "universal" health care approach here, but from all the evidence we have now from other countries, we know it has many, many problems.  When Canadians have to come here to get operations they would have waited months and months for, there's a problem.  Seems like if someone sneezes once they want to go to a clinic because it's "free".  There's got to be another way.  

I fear one-party rule in Washington, no matter who it is.  No checks and balances.  Pet projects and pork barrel spending galore.  Who can afford that?  Is Obama going to stand up to his own party if/when he is president?  He hasn't shown any inclination to do so yet.

I could go on and on, but obviously writing here, at this forum, is like tilting at windmills.  I'm a centrist who's more than willing to vote for a Democrat who exhibits common sense and fiscal responsibility.  Unfortunately, trying to get both qualities is almost impossible.  If you look back at my history here, you'll see I was a big Hillary Clinton supporter.  But she wasn't "left" enough for many in the party.  She was too much to the center for progressives.  That, in a nutshell, is how this party "left" me.  

by DaTruth 2008-10-11 04:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Hey neighbor

How's that 401K doing? Feeling 'Safer' these days? How about Sarah and John, and those supporters, eh?

You're post is a fascinating first-person account of your experience of Cognitive Dissonance. Thanks for the peek inside a mind twisted like a pretzel (laced with LSD).

by QTG 2008-10-11 05:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Hey neighbor.

Yes there is still a garlic festival - and I grow garlic here on our little farm.

As for the rest - I disagree.  Born in NYC, in Brooklyn in 1947 I am well aware of the social problems urban centers face.  

But don't agree with your analysis - or solutions.

I have zero respect for Guiliani and if you were from NYC you would know that most of what worked in the city, during his administration was actually the residual effect of policies put in place under Dinkins.  

Those policies he (Rudy) initiated were abject failures.  

Anyway - good luck to you - we are all entitled to an opinion - though I wonder why you post here, as a non-Democrat?

by NeciVelez 2008-10-11 06:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Hey neighbor.

I guess the answer to your last question Neci is simple:

Hanging round Dems is the only thing to do if you're even a half way reasonable republican. Otherwise you're just going to be talking blind bigotry, and uniformed hate.

by brit 2008-10-11 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: My response to David Brooks in the NYT

I don't know if the GOP is dead or not, but I have to agfree with your assessmetn of its current state and Gov. Palin. And as an ex-Republican, that is what i find saddest of all. But when will it start to be reflected on Election Day?

by spirowasright 2008-10-11 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: You might want to change your semantics....

I agree with your point.  I was trying to use language that would be readily understandable.

Because this was not really addressed to Brooks - but to those who might be regualar readers of his columns.

by NeciVelez 2008-10-11 10:49AM | 0 recs


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