Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

My response to David Brooks in the NYT

This is my first time posting here.  Some readers at MyDD suggested I cross post this diary – so here goes.

I rarely read conservative columnists.  Not enough hours in the day to read writers I agree with. For some reason this morning I decided to read David Brooks column: The Class War Before Palin in which he laments about the current bent of the Republican Party.

He continued with his argument, detailing the decline from his perspective:

The political effects of this trend have been obvious. Republicans have alienated the highly educated regions — Silicon Valley, northern Virginia, the suburbs outside of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Raleigh-Durham. The West Coast and the Northeast are mostly gone.

The Republicans have alienated whole professions. Lawyers now donate to the Democratic Party over the Republican Party at 4-to-1 rates. With doctors, it’s 2-to-1. With tech executives, it’s 5-to-1. With investment bankers, it’s 2-to-1. It took talent for Republicans to lose the banking community.

Conservatives are as rare in elite universities and the mainstream media as they were 30 years ago. The smartest young Americans are now educated in an overwhelmingly liberal environment.

It was this section that made me stop and think.  Though I don’t teach at an elite university, my students are overwhelmingly Democrats.  I also started to think about Republicans in my own family.  Why were they Republicans and why am I not?

He finally got around to discussing his view of Sarah Palin, and how her selection symbolizes this new shift:

This year could have changed things. The G.O.P. had three urbane presidential candidates. But the class-warfare clichés took control. Rudy Giuliani disdained cosmopolitans at the Republican convention. Mitt Romney gave a speech attacking “eastern elites.” (Mitt Romney!) John McCain picked Sarah Palin.

Palin is smart, politically skilled, courageous and likable. Her convention and debate performances were impressive. But no American politician plays the class-warfare card as constantly as Palin. Nobody so relentlessly divides the world between the “normal Joe Sixpack American” and the coastal elite.

She is another step in the Republican change of personality. Once conservatives admired Churchill and Lincoln above all — men from wildly different backgrounds who prepared for leadership through constant reading, historical understanding and sophisticated thinking. Now those attributes bow down before the common touch.

I cringed reading his assessment of Palin as “likeable”.  She is anathema to me, and the current tone of xenophobia and racism being whipped up by the Palin/McCain duo repels and frightens me. I found it laughable that he cites her debate performance “impressive”.  

No mention of the sewer filled with vitriol that is now the Republican campaign.

So for the first time in my life, I wrote a comment to him in the comments section of the Times.  I wrote carefully, but doubted that it would be printed, and if it was printed it would be buried in a host of laudatory responses.  

Much to my surprise, when I got home this evening I found that the editors had selected my response to be one of those that was highlighted.  This was a first for me, and I’ve been commenting at the Times for a long while.

Thought I would share it with you here:


All Editors’ Selections » EDITORS’ SELECTIONS

October 10, 2008 11:34 am

I was raised by Republican grandparents. One of whom was black. My grandfather loved his party, proudly proclaiming to all and sundry his feelings about “the Party of Lincoln”. My grandmother, a white woman from Kansas, was as middle America as one could be. Proud of her descendancy from forebears who fought in the American Revolution, the Mexican War, the Civil War; she was a poster child of American values.

Your party has no place in it for me, and millions like me. I am educated, female, fiscally conservative but socially responsible. I watched your convention, remembering my grandparents active participation in your party and I wept. There would have been no seat for them there.

My grandmother, a lady of the old-school, would not have invited Sarah Palin to her kitchen table, nor into her parlor. My grandfather, who was an advocate of education and hard work, in the style of Booker T Washington, would be aghast at the anti-intellectualism on display.

I don’t usually read your column, but today I did, and it struck a chord. I am responding for them. I achieved the dreams my grandparents wanted for me. A college education, a home and a family. At the age of 61, after a life of work I can now think about retiring, or I could, until my future was destroyed by politicians in collusion with Wall Street.

Yes, I am bitter. I will continue to teach until my health fails, and I pray I will have coverage. I will report to you that my students are all Democrats -except for one. Most come from Republican conservative upstate NY homes. They see no place for them at your table either.

The recent displays of hatred and vitriol at Republican campaign events have left them aghast. They are this nations future, and you have lost them. All but one, and he is embarrassed to admit openly his party affiliation. He shared it with me privately. I patted him on the shoulder and reassured him, that what was important was for him to participate in our Democratic process, and shared with him the story of my grandparents. But now I regret that sop to his feelings. Your party does not deserve him. He is a fine young man. I hate to see him tarnished by what has become a place for the dregs, the Know Nothings and the haters. Those of you who are still capable of cogent thought should fight to wrest your party back from those who now resemble most Germany’s Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei.

The Republican Party is dead. An ugly doppleganger has risen in its place.

— Denise Oliver-Velez, Saugerties, NY

Recommended by 286 Readers

I owed this response to my grandparents.  Many people don’t know the history of black Americans and the Republican Party.  I admit that I am astonished when I see the few opportunist blacks who have become a mainstay in pundit-land, trotted out to attempt to colorize what has increasingly been a party that is monochrome.  They are simply window-dressing.  

I know that if my grandparents were alive today, they too would be Obamacans.  


  1. rfahey22

    I honestly wonder what the future holds for the Republican Party, as younger generations are now more liberal and the percentage of white Americans relative to other groups continues to decline.  I suppose that anti-intellectualism will continue to be a draw of limited effectiveness, though they will have to abandon or seriously temper their appeals to white nativism.  I think that they will have to completely revise their ideology in the upcoming decades or suffer extinction.

  2. ….by John Lewis in Politico

    As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign.  What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history.  Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.

    During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate.  George Wallace never threw a bomb.  He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights.  Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.

    As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all.  They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy.  We can do better.  The American people deserve better.

  3. My husband and I love to see reponses like this from the Republicans, because we have had  8 years of wondering what the heck was happening to the other half of our country.  

    I should not have to hear that I’m a traitor because I wear a shirt that says “Liberal” on it, nor should I have to deal with whispers when I pull into my church’s parking lot with an Obama sticker on my car.  

    Highly recommended, here, at Kos, and at MyDD.  🙂  

  4. sricki

    Republicans are fleeing their own party. And governor Palin has done her part to help give Obama quite a few new Obamacans. My 71-year-old Republican grandmother is one. Naturally, it was Obama who ultimately won her vote, but McCain’s selfish, shallow VP pick closed her ear to the GOP nominee.

    She was born and raised a Republican in the small town of Tallassee, Alabama. She has faithfully participated in every election, both national and local, since she was old enough to vote. Southern Baptist, the scariest sort. Pro-life, pro-gun, falls prey too all the wedge issues. Normally.

    She has never voted for a Democrat.

    But this year, she wants Barack Obama as her president.

  5. NavyBlueWife

    and thanks for sharing it here at The Moose!

    I am a lifelong liberal, but let me note that lifelong consists only of 13 voting years for me.  I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, heart of the deep South, the birthplace of the War Against Northern Aggression (Civil War for all the rest of you), and my extended family are all Republicans.  They are also people who would be in the latest McCain/Palin rallies, which causes me great shame so I rarely mention it.  I can’t understand their hatred and racism, except to say that it is like breathing for them, or like saying the sky is blue — it is so fundamental, that its very existence is nothing that can be controverted.  I have long associated Republicanism with the racism and hatred that I grew up with in the South.

    My husband was a lifelong Republican (with 11 voting years under his belt), and he’s from upstate NY.  After we met and started talking politics, I pointed out my experiences with the Republican South.  He was appalled.  Don’t even get me started on my history teachers.  He has “swung” over to the liberal side now, but he, like you Denise, is very much part of that old-school Republicanism.  It is one that I can respect because it would bring healthy debate to the stage.  Right now, liberals and conservatives BOTH swing too far to their collective sides that it does no one any good, but that’s the product of hatred in my humble opinion.

    I VERY MUCH appreciate your diary here because I have been struggling for years to understand how someone, anyone, could be a Republican.  But I’m staring to gather that the evil Republican doppelganger was hanging out in the South longer than I have been alive…

  6. spacemanspiff

    Sorry to come in so late.

    Caught it at DKos.


    I really hope you hang out with us some more.

    Highly rec’d (at all 3 places).

Comments are closed.