The columnist David Brooks got religion. That’s not a metaphor. Sometime in the last few years he had a religious awakening and it sure has changed what he writes about.
Previously, and maybe still, he was the kind of Republican Trumpites scorn. He seemed like someone who pontificated from the right-of-center about the things East Coast educated elites sniff at as if they were bad smells — the federal deficit, taxing the rich, and the rising cost of higher education. But take a look at
what he wrote, September 30th in the New York Times:
“Over the past few decades there has been a redistribution of dignity — upward. From Reagan through Romney, the Republicans valorized entrepreneurs, C.E.O.s and Wall Street. The Democratic Party became dominated by people in the creative class, who attended competitive colleges, moved to affluent metro areas, married each other and ladled advantages onto their kids so they could leap even farther ahead.”
His new lens enables him to see more clearly across the culture and economy, recognizing his own fluffy crows nest. What got his ire up for the particular column in question, was the general lack of enthusiastic support for the big four trillion dollar-plus Biden initiatives stuck in Congress. His passion was shocking and I felt hope.
I likewise cannot believe the seeming level of indifference in the public over the potential for re-stitching the social safety net and showing some spunk toward climate action that are contained in these stalled bills. Cheer people! Let’s help the big lift going on in D.C.
Brooks went on to write about what has happened in America: “There was a bipartisan embrace of a culture of individualism, which opens up a lot of space for people with resources and social support but means loneliness and abandonment for people without. Four years of college became the definition of the good life, which left roughly two-thirds of the country out.”
He was referencing and bewailing the dismissing of good and prideful work that does not require an advanced degree, and the elimination of so many fields of labor. He is also recognizing that so-called “rugged individualism” is a false virtue aimed at the working class while benefiting the social and economic elites.
There is the 1.5 trillion dollar infrastructure bill that already passed the Senate and is awaiting confirmation by the House, but on top of that is a 3.5 billion dollar bill package includes more infrastructure jobs: improving Veterans hospitals, boosting American manufacturing, job training and workforce development, not to mention free community college education for qualifying students. Even the parts that combat climate change create jobs and careers: home electrification and weatherization, clean power manufacturing, and an environmental youth corps.
Beyond the life-changing expansion of health care, child care, and family leave policies, these bills will deliver jobs, careers, and job training to millions. Not only that, but it will create jobs addressing lead and other pollutants in our drinking water.
We should be shouting for joy and shouting at our representatives to get on the bandwagon. Look at what a measly ten million dollar goose to Geneva can mean. Then consider the possibilities if those bills pass and invest millions in upstate and elsewhere. Jump up and down, call, write, cheer. Help make it happen.