David Brooks, you are, at least as far as I can tell, a very nice man; you are intelligent; and you have lots of interesting things to say. Your knowledge of social science and political theory are to be commended. But your niceness can get in the way of your ability to see straight. This morning, in A Renaissance on the Right, you write,
The core problem today is not tribalism. It’s excessive individualism, which has eaten away at our uniting faith and damaged our relationships with one another. Excessive individualism has left us distrustful and alone — naked Lockeans. When people are naked and alone they revert to tribe. Tribalism is the end product of excessive individualism.
As it happens, over the last few days, my posse and I have been shaking our heads over the tribalistic, Trumpian nonsense spewed out on our high school facebook page by some of our benighted classmates from back in the sixties.
No, David, Billy Bob and Mollie May are not naked Lockeans. Billy Bob and Mollie May have never, in their entire lives, met a naked Lockean. Billy Bob and Molly May would not recognize a naked Lockean if he bit them on the ass. Nor do Billy Bob and Molly May suffer from excessive individualism. What Billie Bob and Mollie May suffer from is the very same ruthless tribalistic thinking that ruled their Scots-Irish, slave holding, Indian killing ancestors.
And, by the way, Happy 275th Birthday, Thomas Jefferson.