Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dear women, Ur doing it wrong. Yours affectionately, David Brooks

Buster Keaton and Sybil Seely in One Week (1920), via.

Shorter David Brooks, "After the Women's March", January 24 2017:
The Women's Marches on Saturday in protest against the incoming Trump administration were a phenomenal success that left their participants feeling energized and hopeful, but unfortunately they failed to aim at uneducated white men, so they weren't successful after all. Too bad!
In the first place, they shouldn't have been focused on issues such as reproductive rights, equal pay, affordable health care, and action on climate change, because while these are all important issues, this is 2017, and ethnic populism is rising around the world:

The crucial problems today concern the way technology and globalization are decimating jobs and tearing the social fabric; the way migration is redefining nation-states; the way the post-World War II order is increasingly being rejected as a means to keep the peace.
Should we be for the post–World War II order or against it? I mean, if we demonstrate on behalf of NATO and the UN, we won't be picking up support from too many of those Trump voters, but if we demonstrate against them, we won't be a very effective opposition to His Imperial Orangeness.

You could say the same for international migration, which, as a matter of fact, was a huge issue in my neighborhood of the New York City march, with many people of Asian and Latino background standing shoulder to shoulder with African and Anglo Americans waving posters in defense of DACA and DAPA, proclaiming that human beings are not illegal, and waving rainbow flags alongside Mexican ones (a Mexican guy was shouting, "I am not a rapist," too). That couldn't have won over Trumpian hearts either, but does Brooks think we ought to have opposed Trump by supporting his wall?

Then in the second place, the demonstrations were too removed from the concerns of the Democratic and Republican parties:

Sometimes social change happens through grass-roots movements — the civil rights movement. But most of the time change happens through political parties: The New Deal, the Great Society, the Reagan Revolution. Change happens when people run for office, amass coalitions of interest groups, engage in the messy practice of politics.
Without the discipline of party politics, social movements devolve into mere feeling, especially in our age of expressive individualism.
Hahahahaha Brooksie, the dean of centripetalist postpartyism, who's spent the last eight years endlessly decrying our partisan spirit! I guess elections really do have consequences, huh? Now that the Republicans are back in power, partisan is OK again. Indeed, a countervailing force against the horror of expressive individualism!

(And by the way, as some Republicans often like to remind us, the New Deal and Great Society programs couldn't have made it through Congress without Republican support, because of the unyielding opposition of most Southern Democrats. Of course now that the ci-devant Southern Democrats have become the entire Republican party, things are somewhat different.)

And then in the third place, Mark Lilla* wouldn't like it:

Finally, identity politics is too small for this moment. On Friday, Trump offered a version of unabashed populist nationalism. On Saturday, the anti-Trump forces could have offered a red, white and blue alternative patriotism, a modern, forward-looking patriotism based on pluralism, dynamism, growth, racial and gender equality and global engagement.
For starters, can you explain how you allow in "pluralism" and "racial and gender equality" while keeping out identity politics? Because if the answer is by having white men do all the discussion, we've already tried it. As to "dynamism, growth.... and global engagement," can you please tell me how that works as a crowd-inspiring alternative to Trumpism? (Serious question, because I favor these things, and don't like our self-denominated left putting them down all the time. I favor Piketty and reducing inequality as the way to growth, but I don't think Brooks does.)

Sure enough, if you live in blue America, the marches carpeted your Facebook feed. But The Times’s Julie Bosman was in Niles, Mich., where many women had never heard of the marches, and if they had, I suspect, they would not have felt at home at one.
I suspect if you'd read beyond the lede you'd have a clearer idea. Three of the women (first three paragraphs) had not heard of the marches, one opposed them (paragraph 6), one clearly supported them but was afraid her husband would object (paragraph 8), one 79-year-old (paragraph 9) cheered her daughter-in-law and granddaughters for going, and other interviewees included four opponents and two supporters (one applauding friends who marched in Valparaiso).

In any event no applause from me for the Times gesture toward representing the fact that fewer than 100% of American women were behind the march by turning half-hearted Niles, MI, into a front-page story alongside the millions who did march on Saturday (between 3.3 and 4.6 million), which reads like a desperate attempt to bothsiderize the phenomenon into insignificance.
They should have gone to Nashville:

*Brooks writes,

Soon after the Trump victory, Prof. Mark Lilla of Columbia wrote a piece on how identity politics was dooming progressive chances. Times readers loved that piece and it vaulted to the top of the most-read charts.
Do you notice how deeply Trumpian that argument is? "Lilla is winning with Times readers, and he's winning with me! I love you, Times readers!" As a matter of fact, I'll bet you more Times readers went on a march last Saturday than emailed or Facebooked that Lilla essay, and what that has to do with whether the anti-Trump opposition appeals to the suicidal shopkeepers of the Alleghenies and Appalachians is not clear to me. How many Times readers voted for Trump anyhow?

Further comment from Timothy Burke (via LGM). Drifty suggests Brooks may have given up on getting laid forever.

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