David Brooks was a devoted Republican in the Reagan era. He was also part of the team that encouraged college students to join the Republican Party when it was out of favor during the Vietnam protest movement. In this article, he contrasts Trump's Republican Party with Ronald Reagan's Party. He argues that Reagan's party was one of courage and optimism. The Donald's party has become a party of cowardice. It is capitalizing on the fears that many have about foreigners and about their economic plight. Cowardice is what people turn to when their fears are elevated. His message to college students is to reject the Republican Party that he loved when he was a young man.
I have not always agreed with David Brooks but he has a better understanding about what is happening in his political party than most people. Brooks has studied Steve Bannon's ideology and he knows the direction in which he is pushing The Donald. Bannon is wedded to the nationalism that is spreading in Europe. Ultimately, it rejects democracy in favor of authoritarian leaders who cultivate fear and a retreat to cowardice. There is no place for optimism and courage in Trump's version of Republicanism. He is cultivating fear in order to develop voter dependence on him and the force of his promise to protect them. This contrasts remarkably with FDR's slogan during the midst of the Great Depression. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Brooks is telling college students not to fall prey to fear and cowardice. The end result is the rejection of democracy and the acceptance of autocracy.