I couldn't figure out what bothered me about David Brooks' column today, but the always insightful Ed Kilgore nails it.
But putting all that aside for a moment, Brooks’ portrait of the conservative movement has a rather glaring omission: a rather large and powerful group of self-identified “traditionalists” who are fully aligned with the “market conservatives” on a common agenda: the Christian Right. And the Christian Right in turn has its roots in an ancient southern authoritarian tradition that began to join the conservative movement in the Goldwater campaign of 1964, the true precursor to today’s GOP.
You wouldn’t know this from reading Brooks, but this “economic/traditionalist” alliance is alive and well, and merges almost seamlessly in the Tea Party Movement. All those “economic conservative” politicians Brooks frets about, with extremely few exceptions, are fully committed to an activist agenda to restore the “social order” of “traditionalist” sexual ethics, patriarchal family and community structure, and ecclesiastical privilege. And the actual “traditionalists” of American conservatism—not the tweedy Burkeans of Brooks’ imagination, but the vast grassroots machine of the Christian Right—have happily cooperated in baptizing laissez-faire capitalism as a divinely ordained, ideal system of organizing economic life.