Friday, May 21, 2010

Bo Don't Know

In a unintentionally hilarious column in today's New York Times, David Brooks tries to tell The Story of an Angry Voter:

For Ben, right and wrong is contained in the relationship between effort and reward. If people do not work but get rewarded, that's wrong. If people work and do not get rewarded, that's wrong. But Ben believed that America is fundamentally a just society. He loved his country because people who work hard can usually overcome whatever unfairness is thrust in their way.

But when Ben looked at Washington, he saw a political system that undermined the relationship between effort and reward. People in Washington spent money they didn't have. They just borrowed it from the Chinese. People in Washington taxed those with responsible homes to bail out people who'd bought homes they couldn't afford.

People in Congress were caught up in a spoils system in which money was taken from those who worked and given to those with connections. Money was taken from those who produced and used to bail out the reckless, who were supposedly too big to fail.

This was an affront to the core values of Ben's life.

Which in the world of Brooks means he's either voting for the extreme left or the extreme right. As he showed in a book by the same title, David Brooks knows BoBos. He does not know the "angry voter." At least none of the ones that I know. And I actually know a very angry voter named Ben too.

Almost as funny as Brooks' caricature of the "angry voter" is his pining for the glory days of American politics when moderates in the center could understand and appreciate the concerns of angry voters like Ben. Don't recall those days? Maybe it's because you're not harkening back far enough and using Abraham Lincoln as an example of this "moderate" ideal as Brooks does.

A lot has been said about Abraham Lincoln and a lot of words have been used to describe him. "Moderate" is not one that comes to mind often.