David Brooks has penned one of his most powerful columns in recent memory, and John Jay Institute alumni have been sharing it in droves on social media. Here is an excerpt:
With fewer sources of ethnic and local identity, people ask politics to fill the void. Being a Democrat or a Republican becomes their ethnicity. People put politics at the center of their psychological, emotional and even spiritual life.
This is asking too much of politics. Once politics becomes your ethnic and moral identity, it becomes impossible to compromise, because compromise becomes dishonor. If you put politics at the center of identity, you end up asking the state to eclipse every social authority but itself. Presidential campaigns become these gargantuan two-year national rituals that swallow everything else in national life.
If we’re going to salvage our politics, we probably have to shrink politics, and nurture the thick local membership web that politics rests within.