David Brooks (PBS)

David Brooks: Political debate belongs within the American people's "galaxy of warm places"

By which he means, family and Facebook friends, between whom political debate is always warm and cordial


Scott Eric Kaufman
April 12, 2016 4:38PM (UTC)

In his Tuesday New York Times column, David Brooks draws heavily on the Golden Age fallacy to describe a time in America -- which he situates as the period before World War II -- in which "people live[d] their lives within a galaxy of warm places."

Citing Marc J. Dunkelman's "The Vanishing Neighbor," Brooks describes American life as a three-ringed system: an inner-ring of family and friends, a middle-ring of PTAs and neighborhood watches, and an outer-ring of Facebook friends and acquaintances.

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He claims -- most likely because he's never attended Christmas with his family or had a political discussion on Facebook -- that "people are pretty good at tending their inner-ring relationships [and] outer-ring relationships," but not the "[m]iddle ring relationships [that] Dunkelman argues help people become skilled at deliberation":

With middle-ring memberships deteriorating, Americans have become worse at public deliberation. People find it easier to ignore inconvenient viewpoints and facts. Partisanship becomes a preconscious lens through which people see the world.

They report being optimistic or pessimistic depending on whether their team is in power. They become unrealistic. Trump voters don’t seem to realize how unelectable their man is because they hang out with people like themselves...

Read the rest at the New York Times...


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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