David Brooks came of age in the late 1960's. Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and others generated outrage about the dominant Protestant culture that had emerged following the second world war. David Brooks was part of the dominant culture that was destroyed. He helped to found the Young Americans for Freedom organization. It was a conservative organization of college students who resisted the culture that formed during the late 1960's. A new establishment emerged which embraced economic, social and moral individualism. It was a well educated establishment that included Hillary Clinton on the center left and conservatives like Brooks on the center right. The new establishment was good for its followers, but it left everyone else out. It gave us the Iraq war and the media, music and film industries disrespected those were not part of the new elite.
Brooks provided us with his version of cultural history in order to explain the rise of Donald Trump. He argues that Trump is a buffoon like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin who created the outrage that destroyed the culture that preceded them. He stuck his thumb in the eyes of the educated elite and was elected to office by the disrespected class that had been left behind. His divisiveness has created a planet of independent and competing cultures. Our job for the next 20 years is to establish the new culture that will replace the old culture that Trump helped to destroy.
Brooks argues that Trump, like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, uses the attacks against him to fuel the outrage and disrespect that enrage his populist supporters. He may be correct. However, Trump is unlike Hoffman and Rubin in an important way. They had no position in our society outside of their notoriety. Donald Trump is our president. He has the power and authority of the authority of the government behind him. Moreover, the cultural war that Trump inherited has been underway for a long time. It began with Richard Nixon's decision to bring the folks who love Trump into the Republican Party. The Republican leadership will have to decide how to deal with Trump. It won't be easy for them. Without Trump's populist base it is a minority party. However, by embracing Trump they are losing the support of the educated class. There is no place in today's world for a nation that is led by Trump's base. They will be better served a more enlightened educated class that is readily available. We need to fix our democratic system that has been systematically weakened by a segment of the educated class motivated primarily by greed.