My response to David Brooks in the NYT
by NeciVelez, Fri Oct 10, 2008 at 04:45:00 PM EDT
I rarely read conservative columnists. Not enough hours in the day to read writers I agree with. For some reason this morning
I decided to read David Brooks column:
in which he laments about the current bent of the Republican Party.
But over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.
Over the past 15 years, the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts.
He continued with his argument, detailing the decline from his perspective:
The political effects of this trend have been obvious. Republicans have alienated the highly educated regions -- Silicon Valley, northern Virginia, the suburbs outside of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Raleigh-Durham. The West Coast and the Northeast are mostly gone.
The Republicans have alienated whole professions. Lawyers now donate to the Democratic Party over the Republican Party at 4-to-1 rates. With doctors, it's 2-to-1. With tech executives, it's 5-to-1. With investment bankers, it's 2-to-1. It took talent for Republicans to lose the banking community.
Conservatives are as rare in elite universities and the mainstream media as they were 30 years ago. The smartest young Americans are now educated in an overwhelmingly liberal environment.
It was this section that made me stop and think. Though I don't teach at an elite university, my students are overwhelmingly Democrats. I also started to think about Republicans in my own family. Why were they Republicans and why am I not?
He finally got around to discussing his view of Sarah Palin, and how her selection symbolizes this new shift:
This year could have changed things. The G.O.P. had three urbane presidential candidates. But the class-warfare clichés took control. Rudy Giuliani disdained cosmopolitans at the Republican convention. Mitt Romney gave a speech attacking "eastern elites." (Mitt Romney!) John McCain picked Sarah Palin.
Palin is smart, politically skilled, courageous and likable. Her convention and debate performances were impressive. But no American politician plays the class-warfare card as constantly as Palin. Nobody so relentlessly divides the world between the "normal Joe Sixpack American" and the coastal elite.
She is another step in the Republican change of personality. Once conservatives admired Churchill and Lincoln above all -- men from wildly different backgrounds who prepared for leadership through constant reading, historical understanding and sophisticated thinking. Now those attributes bow down before the common touch.
I cringed reading his assessment of Palin as "likeable". She is anathema to me, and the current tone of xenophobia and racism being whipped up by the Palin/McCain duo repels and frightens me. I found it laughable that he cites her debate performance "impressive".
No mention of the sewer filled with vitriol that is now the Republican campaign.
So for the first time in my life, I wrote a comment to him in the comments section of the Times. I wrote carefully, but doubted that it would be printed, and if it was printed it would be buried in a host of laudatory responses.
Much to my surprise, when I got home this evening I found that the editors had selected my response to be one of those that was highlighted. This was a first for me, and I've been commenting at the Times for a long while.
Thought I would share it with you here:
All Editors' Selections » EDITORS' SELECTIONS
October 10, 2008 11:34 am
I was raised by Republican grandparents. One of whom was black. My grandfather loved his party, proudly proclaiming to all and sundry his feelings about "the Party of Lincoln". My grandmother, a white woman from Kansas, was as middle America as one could be. Proud of her descendancy from forebears who fought in the American Revolution, the Mexican War, the Civil War; she was a poster child of American values.
Your party has no place in it for me, and millions like me. I am educated, female, fiscally conservative but socially responsible. I watched your convention, remembering my grandparents active participation in your party and I wept. There would have been no seat for them there.
My grandmother, a lady of the old-school, would not have invited Sarah Palin to her kitchen table, nor into her parlor. My grandfather, who was an advocate of education and hard work, in the style of Booker T Washington, would be aghast at the anti-intellectualism on display.
I don't usually read your column, but today I did, and it struck a chord. I am responding for them. I achieved the dreams my grandparents wanted for me. A college education, a home and a family. At the age of 61, after a life of work I can now think about retiring, or I could, until my future was destroyed by politicians in collusion with Wall Street.
Yes, I am bitter. I will continue to teach until my health fails, and I pray I will have coverage. I will report to you that my students are all Democrats -except for one. Most come from Republican conservative upstate NY homes. They see no place for them at your table either.
The recent displays of hatred and vitriol at Republican campaign events have left them aghast. They are this nations future, and you have lost them. All but one, and he is embarrassed to admit openly his party affiliation. He shared it with me privately. I patted him on the shoulder and reassured him, that what was important was for him to participate in our Democratic process, and shared with him the story of my grandparents. But now I regret that sop to his feelings. Your party does not deserve him. He is a fine young man. I hate to see him tarnished by what has become a place for the dregs, the Know Nothings and the haters. Those of you who are still capable of cogent thought should fight to wrest your party back from those who now resemble most Germany's Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei.
The Republican Party is dead. An ugly doppleganger has risen in its place.
-- Denise Oliver-Velez, Saugerties, NY
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I owed this response to my grandparents. Many people don't know the history of black Americans and the Republican Party. I admit that I am astonished when I see the few opportunist blacks who have become a mainstay in pundit-land, trotted out to attempt to colorize what has increasingly been a party that is monochrome. They are simply window-dressing.
I know that if my grandparents were alive today, they too would be Obamacans.