The Origins of Polarization

I have a letter in today’s New York Times objecting to a David Brooks account of how we came to have polarized politics — if that’s the proper way to look at it.

To the Editor:

Re “Bonhoeffer, Benedict or Ford” (column, Feb. 14):

David Brooks seriously wounds our national civic understanding when he writes, “The baby boomer establishment polarized politics, lost touch with the voters and paved the way for Trump.”

What, in heaven’s name, is the “baby boomer establishment”? The generation that was born in the years after World War II came of age politically through struggles to advance civil rights, end a stupid, imperial war, promote the equality of women and men, and bring an end to poverty.

The mistake of those who fought for these causes was to underestimate the fury of the backlash from moneyed interests to roll back those gains and to insist on establishing a new Gilded Age of war, inequality and rights denial.

That backlash alone is responsible for our polarized politics. Does Mr. Brooks think it wrong to insist on full civil and political equality for all citizens and to insist on an end to ruinous imperial adventures? Since when is standing up for peace, liberty and equality polarizing?

DOUGLAS C. BENNETT

Topsham, Me.

The writer is president emeritus of Earlham College.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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