Howling in a Well-Appointed Wilderness

The day has dawned, folks. Nothing left to do but vote. I suggest voting as early in the day as possible.

There is a lot of good commentary available today, none of which was written by David Brooks. Brooks has outdone himself in teh stupid today, warning us Obama supporters that we can’t imagine the deprivation that awaits us.

His [Obama’s] upscale, post-boomer cohort has rallied behind him with unalloyed fervor. Major college newspapers have endorsed him at a rate of 63 to 1. The upscale educated class — from the universities, the media, the law and the financial centers — has financed his $600 million campaign (which relied on big-dollar donations even more heavily than George W. Bush’s 2004 effort). This cohort will soon become the ruling class.

And the irony is that they will be confronted by the problem for which they have the least experience and for which they are the least prepared: the problem of scarcity.

Raised in prosperity, favored by genetics, these young meritocrats will have to govern in a period when the demands on the nation’s wealth outstrip the supply. They will grapple with the growing burdens of an aging society, rising health care costs and high energy prices. They will have to make up for the trillion-plus dollars the government will spend to avoid a deep recession. They will have to struggle to keep their promises to cut taxes, create an energy revolution, pass an expensive health care plan and all the rest.

Most of the post-boomers I know live extremely frugally, often because they are still paying off college loans and because the basic costs of living eats their entire income. The Gen Y post-boomers in particular are the first generation in living memory with no expectation that they look forward to lives of growing wealth.

However, Brooks imagines that, because Obama’s supporters tend to be more educated than McCain’s, Obama supporters are all well-to-do.

Barack Obama is a child of the 1960s. His mother was born only five years earlier than Hillary Clinton. For people in Obama’s generation, the great disruption had already occurred by the time they hit adulthood. Theirs is a generation of consolidation and neo-traditionalism — a generation of sunscreen and bicycle helmets, more anxious about parenthood than anything else.

Obama is not only a member of this temperate generation, but of its most educated segment. He has lived nearly his entire adult life within a few miles of one or another of the country’s top 10 universities.

I think the “great disruption” Brooks refers to is the 1960s.

Certainly there are plenty of young and affluent people who are keenly interested in sunscreen and bicycle helmets. But Brooks assumes the young folks supporting Obama have no idea what scarcity is and have not a care in the world regarding their financial futures.

This, I think, tells us a lot about why the Right (of which Brooks is a member and spear carrier, even though he pretends not to be) has no clue how to appeal to most voters now. In all their screaming about “liberal elitists” they failed to notice that the leadership and intelligentsia (a word I use loosely) of the Right is as spoiled, as insulated, and as elitist as any group of people since the court of Louis XIV.

Brooks concludes,

We’re probably entering a period, in other words, in which smart young liberals meet a stone-cold scarcity that they do not seem to recognize or have a plan for.

Actually there is a plan for it, which is why smart young liberals (and some of us old ones, too) have worked so hard to take the government away from the Right so we can implement it. It is unfortunate that the gross mismanagement of the Bush Administration has left us with few resources to carry out the plan, but most of us liberal know what has to be done.

We need to stop shoveling money to the already wealthy, to war contractors, to special interests, and instead invest in America. We need to repair infrastructure. We need to invest in education, in new technology, in new industries. We need to stop treating American workers as “cost,” as an expendable resource that can be easily replaced in the third world. We need to relieve both individuals and business of the crushing costs of feeding the health insurance racket.

We need to realize that America has finite resources, and we must set priorities and make cost effective use of those resources for the benefit of the greater good — all of the people of the U.S. — and not to enhance profits that benefit only a select few.

We need to remember that government exists to serve the people, not the other way around.

It’s the Right that doesn’t get that, Mr. Brooks. And that’s why you’ll be losing a lot of elections today.

14 thoughts on “Howling in a Well-Appointed Wilderness

  1. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that having a Dem majority means that the media & those on the right will spend the next four years (which I do not expect to be good years by any measure) blaming the Dems for everything, even as the Dems try (hopefully not tepidly 🙂 to clean up the ghastly mess left by the Bush admin.

    To low-informed voters (I got a nice OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST! VOTE MCCAIN! last night from an otherwise lovely lady in NH), they’ll not realize the roots of the problems, just that everything sucks & the Dems are in charge.

    Assuming, of course, that everything turns out well today. Personally, I wouldn’t vote for a Repub for dog catcher these days, having lost all my respect for that party. But most people don’t pay attention. At all.

  2. “If a man takes no interest in politics, we do not praise him for minding his own business– we say that he is a bad citizen.” ~ Thucydides

  3. zhak — I think the majority of the American people are smart enough to understand that the mess is huge and will take some time to clean up. IMO if Obama can communicate with us citizens honestly and clearly about what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, and if people can see that something is being done and it isn’t all just talk, I believe they’ll allow him some time to straighten things out.

    The Right is already calling the Obama administration a failure, of course, but the Right has no credibility.

  4. I’m anxiously awaiting today’s results, because I fear the idiots will somehow outnumber the sane and McCain will win. Does anyone has some reliable exit polls for Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida? I think those are the states McCain needs to win.

    …I need a hug…

  5. Well my fellow Maha readers it would be easy for us to sit around nervously waiting for the big anvil to fall on our heads and assume the worst. But lets look at the bright side, Obama has inspired an entire generation in ways most of us didn’t even this was possible to do in this age of cynicism and pessimism. I voted absentee several weeks ago, so I’m not one who will have bear the long lines and bad weather here in the Pacific Northwest, so I’m waiting for the afternoon with a nice cup of coffee and my internet.

    I’ll hug you A. Nony Maus! Speaking broadly, the country needs a big hug and Obama should be the one to give it to us! Hope for the best…

  6. Maha, you still read the Cabbage? You deserve either cannonization or an intervention. 😉

    Today’s bleat does make a springboard for an excellent post, though.

    Is Brooks really trying to suggest that a post-Boomer raised by a single mother and a grandmother who sacrificed on his behalf is less familiar with frugality and living withing means than the pre-Boomer son and grandson of admirals who ditched his first wife to marry the rich babe?

    Does Brooks not realize that many of us who grew up with Obama have childhood memories of single-income household affluence that we, ourselves, will never have? I’m a year-and-a-half older than Obama, and we’re keenly aware of being the first generation who won’t ‘automatically’ have better lives than our parents. Friends who are younger than I am are even more pessimistic about their opportunity.

    And apparently Brooks never listened to any of Obama’s speeches? Sounds like he recognizes it, and has a plan. It’s just one that involves putting Brooks and Brooks’ privileged pals out, and ending their scam.

  7. In regards to David Brooks: The guy is fairly intelligent and occasionally surprises me with a good column or interesting thought on PBS, but on the whole he appears to be a water carrier for the Conservatives. The idea behind his every word appears to be that conservatives can do no wrong and if it weren’t for the terrible politicians who just never implement his ideas we would have not problems whats so ever! I thought the planning profession was ineffectual.

  8. Hugs for all!

    I just got back to work from voting over my lunch hour. No lines, but as high noon approached, a lot of folks were walking in. Nothing unusual about the check-in process, except one lady asked me a lot of questions about my apt building in a chatty way, how many apts in the bldg, etc. That’s never happened before.

    The neighborhood around my polling place is lower middle class, mostly white. There’s a small Catholic church and grade school in its midst. Driving around I counted maybe 20 Obama/Biden yard signs. One for McPain/Ailin.

    And this is Nebraska, First District, which will definitely go red…??? Hmm….

  9. Obama has people out even today! Someone came to the house to see if we had been able to vote and another person was on the corner of a busy intersection with a huge sign reading vote today and the hours. It also had Obama’s logo on it. I am in Virginia.
    This year we had an option of paper or electronic ballots. I was glad to see that since I wasn’t too sure about the electronic one counting my vote. It took me no time to vote and early this morning at 6 am it took my son less than an hour even though the line was all the way outside and curled back on itself.
    This truely is a historic election.

  10. This column by Brooks and your response sum up everything that is wrong with that guy and his wacky views. Not only does he not get Obama’s demographics, but there’s not one mention of how we got into the pickle we’re in. And oh, that “disruption” of the 1960s. He sounds transplanted straight from Louis XIV. I can see him wearing the outfits of that day, hanging around Versailles.

    Big crowd where I voted (SoCal). Lots of turnout. Some guy showed up in a deep blue McCain-Palin sweatshirt, and another guy in line said he wanted to vote Republican, but fortunately all of my state’s 55 electoral votes are going to Obama.

  11. Excellent commentary. The GOP is still running on the 1960s. The end of the decade was almost 40 years ago. I know conservatism prefers to look backward, but this is ridiculous. David Brooks is simply incapable of looking forward.

  12. New Evidence Shows That George W. Bush Presidency Part of Martian Plot

    ANN ARBOR – While pundits shake their heads and wonder why the last eight years have been such a horrible example of executive leadership in the White House, new evidence has emerged to explain the failings of George W. Bush. “He’s a Martian,” notes one White House aide speaking on condition of anonymity, “It was bound to come out sooner or later, but he was sent as a vassal of the Martian Emperor. Obviously, the Martian plot failed.”

    While a Martian takeover of the Planet Earth was not imminent, sources close to the president say that the plan was to slowly consolidate power. The Martian platform of reducing access to education, lowering wages and the quality of jobs, keeping healthcare too expensive for most Americans, and causing occasional political instability was part of the strategy to keep people ignorant, poor, and frightened. The Martian plan was to also abolish sex education to insure that there would be an ample supply of slaves when the time came to strike.

    What the Martians didn’t bank on was the erosion of America’s place in the world. The U.S. would have little influence over the rest of the planet, although plans to install Martian leaders in China, Russia, and Brazil were also underway.

    “I can’t believe we missed the signs that this was happening,” said a disbelieving Senator McConnell. I knew there was something uncanny and strange about him, but I thought it was a Texas thing.” Secretary Rice echoed McConnell, although she claims the RNC should have seen the signs. “W did have that thing where you could see what looked like another set of eyelids. He kept flashing them at people during long meetings as a sort of a prank. He thought it was funny, but it just creeped everyone out.” Congressman Boehner also noted a strange encounter with Bush during protracted confirmation hearings for one of the appellate court judges. Boehner interrupted him when he appeared to be praying. “I thought he was praying for the troops, but he was clutching a half-eaten rodent in his hand. He acted like he had just found it, but it looked like he had entrails between his teeth. I blocked it out of my mind and hadn’t remembered it until now.”

    Democrats are saying this is proof that the Republican party has been infiltrated by aliens and cite the recent endorsement of Senator John McCain by the Roswell Daily Record as proof. “Where does Vice President Cheney go?” asked Speaker Pelosi referring to the fact that he seems to disappear for weeks at a stretch. She noted that a full investigation would soon be underway.

  13. Brooks is a bit like Thomas Friedman who only recently noticed we have an energy scarcity problem. Across the board, on a wide range of issues, including resource scarcity, the Republicans have procrastinated, been in denial and actively practiced neglect for over 28 years. Brooks’ column is an embarrassment.

    A party whose candidate can’t remember how many houses he owns has become the symbolic fox hunting crowd in their red aristocratic riding jackets. Think of Ronald Reagan. Think of Dick Cheney on his expensive canned hunting trips with the $10,000 hand-decorated shotgun.

    Millions of Americans know there is work to be done and there are changes to be made if we’re to continue to thrive. Too bad Brooks doesn’t notice and is stuck on stereotypes forty years out of date.

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