Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

Conscience of a Conservative

The four columns that David Brooks wrote during the two conventions continue to fascinate me. The New York Times columnist is a conservative in the old sense of the word: a believer in small government and free markets, one who values the continuity of institutions and the traditions of a community. The Republican Party is Brooks’ natural political home. But he does not seem at home in this one. He praised the GOP convention for its celebration of “the striver, who started small, struggled hard, looked within and became wealthy.” But in the end, he wrote, today’s Republican party cannot govern because “its commercial soul is too narrow.”

He was disappointed with Obama’s speech because he believes that a country that has lost its way needs a leader with big ideas and the audacity to push for big change. Romney cannot do that. Obama has yet to show he will.

I agree. This election is about two men playing it safe, appealing to a narrow wedge of voters without offending their base. The way to do that apparently is to go negative . . . to show why the other guy is a worse choice than you.

If this election turns on who can be meaner, more partisan, more negative, we will all lose. And that is the direction in which the campaign is headed. Barack Obama is the only candidate who can rise above that and offer the communal vision this country needs. I hope he does.

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