Political News Plan B

Political News Plan B November 26, 2018

David Brooks:

What should we do during the next two years of divided government? We could spend them as we’ve spent the last two: React to every Trump outrage. Keep Trump’s narcissistic provocations at center stage. Express daily contempt from within the safety of our political silos.

This seems to be the business model for cable news and online media. There’s a big, reliable audience of people who will tune in to feel appalled by and superior to Trump, and who are addicted to their daily rituals of moral onanism.

On the other hand, we could put the Trump soap opera off to the side and pay attention to actual Americans and actual solutions. We could acknowledge that we are an evenly divided country. We could build the bipartisan governing coalitions and agendas suited to that reality.

Fortunately, many people are opting for plan B. For example, the Convergence Center for Policy Resolution gathers stakeholders across the political spectrum and gets them working together on common visions — union bosses with Wal-Mart executives, teacher union leaders with charter school heads.

Washington think tanks are undergoing a fundamental evolution. A lot of them, like the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, were built to advise parties that no longer exist. They were built for a style of public debate — based on social science evidence and congressional hearings that are more than just show trials — that no longer exists. Many people at these places have discovered that they have more in common with one another than they do with the extremists on their own sides.

So suddenly there is a flurry of working together across ideological lines. Next week, for example, the group Opportunity America, with Brookings and A.E.I., will release a bipartisan agenda called “Work, Skills, Community: Restoring Opportunity for the Working Class.”

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