David Brooks, approximately, represents a group of thinkers in the political realm who will soon, hopefully, be obsolete. There was a time when those like Brooks could find an undisturbed niche in D.C. circles -- never too offensive to either left or right, simply pleasant and agreeable, although making pertinent points along the way regarding areas of government which could stand improvement. In a social gathering, they easily banter with Republican and Democrat alike, with differences never so great that a little give and take can't smooth the slight tension of mild disagreement which always, however, reaches common goals even if the methods of achievement aren't exactly the same. There's always something to think about, to consider, all points well taken. The civility of intelligent men and women discussing matters of the State prohibits partisan emotions from ruining a pleasant discussion, besides, nothing is ever accomplished without compromise -- it's never polite or useful to push too much when no one can be sure of a position until there's a reasonable, informed census.
The reality for these people is the status quo -- balance, order and stability. Government and the bipartisanship of civil, well-educated men and women are the instruments which guide the untamed passions of the masses toward the general welfare, thus becoming purveyors of the general will stripped of its contradictions and irrational motives -- citizen's wills as they would be if fully informed and capable of understanding the larger picture.
They aren't of the power-monger breed of statists -- they are the intellectual custodians of statism. To them the market is an unruly gathering of needs and base desires exploited by self-serving capitalists in need of regulation. The political class has little firsthand knowledge of the complexity and sophistication of industry -- they see only the results of profit which appear to them lavish and unjust in comparison to the relatively unrewarded contributions of teachers, social workers, public service employees, journalists, and all others who serve the nation for the betterment of mankind, or alleviate the suffering of unfortunates, or protect the powerless from the powerful. This is not a calling for the custodians, but an orientation revulsed by the injustice of ignorant wealth and purchased status. In theory, they promote economic growth for the health of the State, orderliness of the middle class and possible advancement of the poor, but the growth they envision is State-managed, and the wealth properly redistributed, not by extreme socialist-minded fanatics, but by a sensible bureacracy entrusted to execute an efficient safety net which no prosperous modern state can fail to offer, and the private realm will not support on their own.
The custodians' repose is disturbed by the entrance into government of political tyros bent on limiting government power. This distasteful extreme spurred by naive idealism, to the custodians, is dangerous because it challenges balance and order, threatens to librerate the unruly machinations of market forces, thus setting a direction beyond State control, with no way of determining outcomes or guiding the productive energy.
There are many private/public partnerships within our powerful State, and it's these connections with which the custodians are concerned. Some of the partnerships are formal, some informal, and the insider understands the connections which run through them all-- they weave the fabric of the State, with the understanding that this network is the noetic center, the informed conscience, the pragmatic work line of the nation. From media to the Fed to the financial connections on Wall Street to universities and the scientists to the military/industrial complex to the union leaders to Hollywood to activists and organizers to bloggers to think tanks to state and local officals to economists and social scientists to international organizations to special interests of all stripes, this network branches out through every aspect of American society and the world. The custodians see the current movement to dismantle this network as either an irritant or a disconcerting development -- either way it must be stopped, co-opted or marginalized.
The functioning of our great State network, say the custodians, requires compromise of representatives in government who have power over policy, revenues and allocation of funds -- and it requires sacrifice from patriotic citizens. Without compromise in congress, too much burden is placed on executive power, and there's too much risk, the custodians fear, of a president with anti-statist leanings, a charismatic freedom fighter intent on limiting governmet power and transfering power to the economic realm. The custodians' mission is to defend bipartisanship in the defense of the State network, to maintain the status quo, balance, order, management and execution of the safety net, regulation of enterprise, central control over direction and the redistribution of wealth -- and to encourage Americans to sacrifice for the sake of the State.
The anti-statist sees the danger in this falsely patriotic appeal and simply asks to be left alone. The anti-statist is not anti-government, but pro-protection of freedom and rights, pro-free market, pro-choice, pro-life, pro-pursuit of happiness, pro-economic growth and prosperity. What the custodian fails to realize and accept is that the State is anti-social and protects its own interests. The custodian is either complicit in rigging the game, because the custodian has a protected position on the team, or the custodian is just one more useful idiot, exploited by powers beyond his or her comprehension. The time has never been so demanding of intellectuals to think freely and defend the principles of liberty.