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David Brooks Really Doesn't Want Sanders to Win

But a critic says his 'freakout' op-ed isn't grounded in actual evidence
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2020 2:46 PM CST

(Newser) – David Brooks feels pretty strongly that Bernie Sanders should not win the Democratic nomination, let alone the White House. The not-so-subtle clue is the headline to his op-ed in the New York Times: "No, Not Sanders, Not Ever." Brooks is generally conservative, but he wrote a previous column saying that he would vote for Elizabeth Warren over President Trump in a general election. He's not sure he could say the same of Sanders. "I'm here to tell you that Bernie Sanders is not a liberal Democrat," writes Brooks. "He’s what replaces liberal Democrats." One of Brooks' main assertions is that Sanders rejects the idea of democratic compromise in favor of "revolutionary mass mobilization." That, in Brooks' view, is a big reason why Sanders has been a "useless" lawmaker in Congress.

"Liberalism celebrates certain values: reasonableness, conversation, compassion, tolerance, intellectual humility and optimism," he writes. "Sanders’s leadership style embodies the populist values, which are different: rage, bitter and relentless polarization, a demand for ideological purity among your friends and incessant hatred for your supposed foes." For a counterpoint to all this, see Zack Beauchamp's rebuttal at Vox. He sees Brooks' column as the "perfect distillation" of the "freakout" currently going on among establishment types over Sanders. "And much like other similar anti-Sanders screeds, it’s grounded in assumptions about and perceptions of Sanders that are just not backed up by evidence"—most notably the idea that Sanders has been "useless" as a lawmaker. (Read Brooks' full column here, and Beauchamp's here.)

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