I would say that David Brooks and I are on the same page about 50% of the time. If you can’t tell, I am left of him. Nonetheless, he is an intelligent man and surveyor of our times, so week after week, I enjoy or force myself through his columns. Today’s NYT piece about why Britain is working and we are not is one of our comings together, and I will take this opportunity to share my own thoughts about his general argument.
Per DB, Britain’s political parties have vast differences in opinion as do ours BUT they are able to acknowledge when the other party is right and are less likely (because their media and public actually respects fact and holds the politicians to facts) to lie, stonewall and BS simply for political gain. They are able to work on behalf of what their country needs.
I would add to this that Britain (and France, MANY other countries/civs around the world) is much older, has been through the ringer politically, in wars, civil unrest, and so forth for much longer and in much more strenuous ways -because of the lengths of their histories vs. ours- than have we. We are still a young nation, in many ways still being born. Really, we have pretty much only ascended since our inception. Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Rome…all were top dog at some point(s) or another and then fell, humbled and reminded of (or forced to acknowledge) the work it really takes, the outcomes one really must show, the positive influence one really must yield, to regain ascendancy.
The U.S. is a remarkable place. Our founders had already learned much from those they left behind, what they didn’t want in a country and government, what might work better than what had in the past. But much as we might glorify and/or deify them today, they weren’t infallible gods, but rather fallible humans with grand but perhaps imperfect visions. It is unlikely that the U.S. will remain the world’s dominant superpower -is it still? should there be one dominant vs several- and in my opinion, that is OK. Let us be open-minded and learn from our hubris, our mistakes and our partisan vitriol. If we can work though the anger, insecurities and uncertain times as a country instead of as tense factions incapable of even the most basic of political dialogue, perhaps we will emerge humbled but stronger, willing again to see the value in compromise, intelligent debate, science and idealism.
DB suggests today that some of those values are what strengthens Britain at present. It’s worth considering seriously because we are not, as a nation right now, in any position to “feel smug or superior (Brooks).”