Speak for Yourself, David Brooks

August, 2023

Washington — David Brooks made a splash with his column "What if We're the Bad Guys Here?"

We can condemn the Trumpian populists until the cows come home, but the real question is: When will we stop behaving in ways that make Trumpism inevitable?

Speak for yourself, David Brooks. Just when will you stop? You're long overdue.

Some of us have been trying to behave responsibly, reaching out to the Trumpian populists to address their real needs, to demonstrate to them that democracy works, that they do not need to follow a dangerous authoritarian to get their voices heard and their needs addressed.

I've spent years working on the Farm Bill (which should be called the Food Bill), trying to get elected officials on both sides of aisle to make the bill a vehicle to address crises in rural (and culturally rural) areas, such as the lack of healthy food, the faltering health care system, and the deaths of despair caused by obesity and opioids. One solution would be to bring back the Extension Service to address nutrition and wellness. Do you know what the Extension Service is, why it is trusted when other institutions are not, and why channeling help through it could make a big difference in political as well as physical health? Do you and your fellow Bad Guys (the so-called elites) ever think in these terms? Not in my experience.

I've spent even more years trying to stop the nation's student loan system from widening class and race inequalities.  With rare exception, I have not noticed you and your fellow Bad Guys engaged in this effort. Now higher education is widely distrusted, especially by the Trumpian populists, which portends ill for the nation on many levels — political, economic, and social.

So, yes, stop behaving so counterproductively, so stupidly, if I may say it that way.  For good advice, seek out people who have the highest Bad Guy credentials but have overcome them.  We're out there. Will you pitch in?