David Brooks writes about “antipolitics:”
Politics is an activity in which you recognize the simultaneous existence of different groups, interests and opinions. … You follow a set of rules, enshrined in a constitution or in custom, to help you reach these compromises in a way everybody considers legitimate.
The downside of politics is that people never really get everything they want. It’s messy, limited and no issue is ever really settled. …
But that’s sort of the beauty of politics, too. It involves an endless conversation in which we learn about other people and see things from their vantage point and try to balance their needs against our own. …
Over the past generation we have seen the rise of a group of people who are against politics. … They delegitimize compromise and deal-making. They’re willing to trample the customs and rules that give legitimacy to legislative decision-making if it helps them gain power.
Ultimately, they don’t recognize other people. They suffer from a form of political narcissism, in which they don’t accept the legitimacy of other interests and opinions. They don’t recognize restraints. They want total victories for themselves and their doctrine.
The absence of accomplishment destroys public trust. The decline in trust makes deal-making harder.
I struggle with whether there’s really any coherent point behind the “anti politics” concept. Like so many of Brooks’s columns, this reads as a series of interesting thoughts strung together with quotes.
If there’s anything that Trump and his supporters are a reaction to, I think it’s likely that it’s the perceived anti politics of an Obama administration that’s itself too often appeared unwillingness to compromise. The Tea Party itself was a reaction to the perceived intransigence of an administration that believed its Congressional majorities meant that minority perspectives would be neither listened to nor accommodated.
If there’s any such thing as “anti politics,” it would be closer to the reality that both parties have implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) endorsed things like warrantless wiretapping and unchecked drone warfare without anything resembling the sort of robust domestic debates that Brooks believes should characterize our political process.