His answer for the coming reign of Donald Trump is, well, his answer for everything—a return to long-lost centrism. Brooks has not one, but two Bills backing him up—Bill Kristol and Bill Galston—who have come together to write a statement pushing for a “New Center.”
Brooks sees this center as somewhere “between the alt-right and the alt-left, between Trumpian authoritarianism and Sanders socialism.” But just because both Trump and Sanders aren’t moderate centrists doesn’t mean that Sanders’s social democratic politics is equal in any way to Trump’s racism, misogyny, and penchant for tyrannical tweets. As my colleague Ryu Spaeth notes, in this era of hyper-partisanship the center is more like a “blank void” than some magical spot between Trump and Sanders.
And while Brooks sees Trump ushering in a new era in which partisanship is smashed up to create new, unlikely alliances, we have yet to see any evidence of that, with moderate Republicans like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan scrambling to take advantage of a Trump presidency to further their own partisan aims.
Instead of reflecting on the ways in which centrism has failed both in politics and in policy, Brooks sees moderation as an inherently good thing that has somehow fallen out of fashion and just needs to be reinvigorated. But Hillary Clinton—who Brooks described as someone who works “very well with Republicans”—just lost the election to Donald Trump, as did moderates like Jeb Bush and John Kasich. With no actual support other than a few people like David Brooks, it doesn’t look like the center can hold.