Monday, April 10, 2006
David Brooks is the conservative columnist for the New York Times. He spoke to a group today of which I am president. We are the House Administrative Assistants Alumni Association, an organization of ex-chiefs of staff to members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Brooks is a very appealing and engaging man. His conservative credentials are unchallenged. But he comes off as almost shy. He is self-effacing and very funny. And extremely thoughtful. He spoke to us about a philosophy of government that he supports called "energetic limited government." He claims this approach to government goes back to Alexander Hamilton and was sustained by Abraham Lincoln. It's last advocate in the White House was Teddy Roosevelt. It's guiding principle is that government should give people the tools to accomplish social advancement, but should not guarantee social advancement. I could live with that. Unfortunately, the policies of modern day conservatives actually retard social advancement and institutionalize the concentration of wealth.
Contrarily, Brooks discussed the growing social divide in America based on educational achievement. His compassion is clearly genuine and he obviously believes that conservatism is the correct path to a just society. It is hard, however, to reconcile his view of conservativism with actual consequences of the long term dominance of conservatism over national public policy. The results are the opposite of the values to which his aspires.