One of the reasons I can’t talk about politics at work or with my family is that they look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that David Brooks would send all of us to a re-education camp if he could, but that’s exactly what he’s getting at here:
We need a program that would force members of the upper tribe and the lower tribe to live together, if only for a few years. We need a program in which people from both tribes work together to spread out the values, practices and institutions that lead to achievement.
If we could jam the tribes together, we’d have a better elite and a better mass.
The gist of the column — which Zandar ably summarized earlier — is that the strapping young crackers (the book Bobo cites focuses only on white people) are fucking and lying about too much while their tote-bagger overlords keep them down, presumably by drinking craft beers and avoiding strip-mall restaurants.
Bobo couches his tribe-jam as a National Service program but the word “force” is of course a tell. And you all know who else wanted to roust people from their “affluent enclaves” and force them to live in camps.
Dictatorial schemes to force people to adopt conservative values are now a staple of right-wing dialog in this country. Yet the same people who promote these schemes label mild, liberal programs — universal health care along the lines what exists in the rest of the wester world, traditional expansionary macroeconomic policies, mild efforts to slow down climate change, slight increases in the (historically low) marginal tax rates that the wealthiest Americans pay — as big gubmint terror. Norm Orstein and Thomas Mann recently wrote that:
[T]he GOP, which is now firm in its identity as the insurgent party, set upon blowing up policies and public responsibilities that enjoyed bipartisan support for many decades. The Democrats are the status quo party— protective and pragmatic. The asymmetric polarization of the two camps is the most significant feature of contemporary American politics.
There’s nothing wrong with being protective and pragmatic. The mass of men lead lives of quiet pragmatism. Some might call it desperation, but I’ll always take small, sensible improvements over remaking the world via reeducation camp.