How David Brooks’ Fake Conservatism Created Donald Trump’s Fake Conservatism


Earlier this morning, I wrote about Donald Trump’s vulgar insult toward Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX); for those who missed it, Trump called Cruz a “pussy” for no reason. A couple of hours later, I wrote about New York Times faux-conservative columnist David Brooks worshipful ode to President Obama.

Donald Trump would not exist as a political entity were it not for the high-handed pseudoconservatism of establishment elites like David Brooks.

David Brooks and his philosophical cronies believe that conservatism is entirely attitudinal. That’s why Brooks likes Obama, as he wrote this morning: Obama is genteel, optimistic, caring. He’s a good-hearted, kind man who simply believes a few of the wrong things. In Brooks’ vision, Obama is less of a problem for America than people like Ted Cruz; Brooks says he wouldn’t trust Cruz to run a charity, but he would trust the Obamas to do so. After all, Obama “radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss.”

None of this has to do with the serious policies of conservatism. I prefer elegance to vulgarity, but that’s because good taste is worthwhile on its own merits, not because creased pants have anything to do with good tax policy. But Brooks mixes up the two. This is how he described conservatism back in October:

By traditional definitions, conservatism stands for intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible.

All of that is tactics; none of it is vision. And it is because so many pseudoconservatives wrongly defined conservatism as gentility that Donald Trump rose among conservatives.

The natural response to Brooks and his ilk, after eight years of unabated leftist transformation – transformation Brooks pooh-poohs as relatively marginal – is “f*** you.” And that’s what many Donald Trump voters are thinking. F*** your civility. F*** your gentility. F*** your creased pants and your ten-dollar words and your cashmere sweaters. Bring in the guy who shouts “f***” and “pussy.” If establishment conservatism is gentility, we’ve had enough of that s***.

There’s one big problem here: neither Brooks nor the reaction to Brooks have anything to do with conservatism. Brooks defined conservatism as something it isn’t; those who react to him for the right reasons are redefining conservatism as something it isn’t, either. Conservative vs. non-conservative isn’t a fight between cabernet and Bud Light. That’s a sort of class fight more natural to Europe. Conservative vs. non-conservative should be a fight about policy. But Brooks and those who think like him destroyed the very concept of conservatism in order to substitute a style that calls it uncouth to serve white wine with beef. And Trump and those who think like him make the same mistake when they substitute a style that values working blue over Constitutionalism.