David Brooks, writing in the New York Times, argues persuasively that the Democratic Party must establish and maintain close contact with and direct effective policies toward the millions of aggrieved, resentful, mostly white, rural, un-colleged, flown-over, Republicans drawn to and enthralled by the alternate realities and conspiracy theories President Trump propagated so facilely and relentlessly.
However, Brooks errs in asserting it will take a generation to restore trust in science, media, government, democracy, and reality itself. In normal times it would take that long, but the country simply doesn’t have a generation to address the deep fissures and failings of American society — the gross inequality of wealth and power, the pervasive institutionalized injustices, the un-democratic power structure embedded in and perpetuated by the Constitution — before the people can’t take it any more, and either next time elect a more competent, empathetic autocrat or take to the streets in mass protests to force a restart of the American experiment in democracy. Lending urgency to the need for democracy-saving surgery will be a rapidly deteriorating climate making ever larger swaths of the country subject to the ever more devastating depredations of hurricanes, wildfires, floods, droughts, and heat waves. In a generation, if America under Biden, China, Japan, India, Brazil, the EU, and Indonesia don’t start or accelerate their efforts to curb carbon emissions, most of America, indeed of the world, will become an inhospitable place for humans to live in by mid-century. For many it will be quite hostile, even deadly.