The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
New York Times columnist David Brooks was one of the founding fathers of "National Greatness Conservatism," which sought to replace traditional conservative belief in limited government and federalism with a sort of neo-Teddy Roosevelt focus on unifying Americans behind "great projects designed to physically and spiritually unify the nation." Brooks wrote, "energetic government is good for its own sake. It raises the sights of the individual. It strengthens common bonds. It boosts national pride. It continues the great national project. It allows each generation to join the work of their parents. The quest for national greatness defines the word 'American' and makes it new for every generation."
The title of Brooks's 1997 manifesto is "A Return to National Greatness," and one of its subheadings is "Restoring American Greatness." Sound familiar? "Make America Great Again," anyone? I'm sure when Brooks envisioned a future leader to adopt his statist vision for the Republican Party, he was envisioning a Disraeli, or a T. Roosevelt, whose soaring belief in American greatness would uplift the people. Instead, he got a more natural result of the fascistic impulse implied by Brooks's ideology, Donald Trump, a sour, vulgar authoritarian. Brooks is not happy, but he's surely not blameless.