In his column in the Times today, Brooks argues that the Women’s March was bad, actually, because it didn’t work towards the goal of “building a nation that balances the dynamism of capitalism with biblical morality.” It’s hard to imagine a more out-of-touch prescription for the ails of 2017.
More than three million people showed up at women’s marches around the world. While the impact of such demonstrations can be debated, Brooks seems more intent on depicting these protests as a primal scream of identity politics. His first criticism is that, “All the big things that were once taken for granted are now under assault: globalization, capitalism, adherence to the Constitution, the American-led global order. If you’re not engaging these issues first, you’re not going to be in the main arena of national life.” As anyone who attended the marches knows, protesters were protesting Donald Trump in toto: the threat he represents to women, yes, but also to rule of law, global stability, civil rights, the works.
He argues that the protests were devoted to issues of importance to “university towns and coastal cities,” despite the fact that more than 500 cities throughout the country held marches. Lost in the cloud of his frowny moralizing , Brooks can’t see that he may be the one falling outside of the “main arena of national life.”
Brooks himself leans on elite works, like Hamilton and Columbia professor Mark Lilla’s essay in the Times excoriating “identity liberalism,” a piece that has been criticized for its revisionist history. Brooks states that “Times readers loved that piece and it vaulted to the top of the most-read charts,” a measure of elite accomplishment if there ever was one. But having a most-read piece does not mean that it was a well-loved piece or even a coherent piece. David Brooks should know that better than anyone.