New York Times columnist David Brooks is wrong to worry about the influence of “economic conservatives.”
Has libertarianism taken hold of the Republican Party and ruined American conservatism in the process? New York Times columnist David Brooks thinks so.
In a column this week, Brooks surveys the state of the American right and declares it to be in terminal decline. The root of the problem, he explains, is libertarianism. Traditional conservatives, those who favor a society that functions “as a harmonious ecosystem, in which the different layers were nestled upon each other: individual, family, company, neighborhood, religion, city government and national government,” have been surpassed by those who “upheld freedom as their highest political value” and “spent a lot of time worrying about the way government intrudes upon economic liberty.”
The result of this libertarian triumph, Brooks argues, has been a disaster for the American right. “Since they no longer speak in the language of social order,” he claims, “Republicans have very little to offer the less educated half of this country.”
Considering that the 2012 Republican Platform advocates things like “Making the Internet Family-Friendly” by banning online gambling, “vigorously enforced” legal crackdowns on pornography, and “a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” it seems a little fishy to say the GOP no longer speaks “in the language of social order.” The Republican message needs more libertarianism, not less.
Brooks’ larger point is also wrong. As he sees it, free-market thinking is deficient because it “appeals to people as potential business owners, but not as parents, neighbors and citizens.”
But that is a false dichotomy.
CONTINUED at Reason. Written by Damon Root.