tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg November 13, 2017 10:00pm-11:00pm EST
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: david brooks is here. he has been an op-ed columnist for "the new york times" since 2003. his writing spans the world of politics, culture and the social sciences. he is the author of several books. his latest column out today examines observations from tuesday's election results and what they tell us about the evolving nature of voting trends across the country. i am pleased to have david brooks back at this table. welcome. david: good to be back here. charlie: nice to have you up here, it really is. i want to talk in broad themes
about some of the things you have been writing about. in today's column, "we are living in an age of global populism, a transition as profound as those in 1848, 1905, 1968." give me a primer on global populism today because it affects american politics, european politics, and you are saying it is the age of global populism. david: i compare it to those years because there are certain pivots in history where countries all around the world are facing the same problem but answering in different ways. 1848, workers revolution. 1905, you had the progressive era, industrialization. 1968, the rise of the bohemian radicals. and now we are facing the rise of populism. i read over a bunch of my old columns just to prepare for this -- a very humbling experience. what i see is me and a lot of people noodling over the same issues. we are just trying to figure out -- we are in this pivotal moment and what exactly is going on. the thought that occurred to me
this morning was -- i was in europe in the 1990's. i saw the decline of the soviet union, german reunification, mandela coming out of prison, the oslo peace process. i saw a great advance of what we call liberalism. i don't mean that as walter mondale liberalism. i mean that as john locke liberalism. the idea that a free conversation, a free trade, every movement of people, global democracy and it was on the advance. now what we have seen since starting in yugoslavia but since , as it is in retreat. it started to retreat in the 1990's really with some of the factional fighting. and then the decline of democracies around the world. and now with our own shores. sometimes an assault on democracy, a tolerance for authoritarianism. but even the habits of liberalism. respecting the truth, having open conversation whether it is on campus or the campaign trail. it seems to be in retreat and in a crisis. populists are people who decided that system of openness is not working for me. i don't approve of the open integration, open trade, of global immigration.
i don't approve of anyone who could live anywhere who look down on me when i am rooted here in my specific land. they are rebelling all around the world. charlie: you have used this expression that people from somewhere and people from anywhere. the interesting thing to me, i guess the best reflection might have been brexit recently, apart from the political election that was a referendum, and here, the election of donald trump. but looking at what happened in, on tuesday, what did that election say about the rise of populism? david: because we are not at a normal moment. normally, you have electoral swings. the president is unpopular so the other party wins. this is not like that. because the basic tectonics of politics in our society are shifting. to me, what happened was it used to be the democrats really did well in the cities, the republicans did really well in the farms. the suburbs were in contention.
inner ring suburbs with professionals tend to vote democratic. outer ring suburbs like loudoun county, virginia or douglas county, colorado, they were more corporate managers and voted republican. this was the basic geographic alignment of our politics. now, the republicans have their farms and they have given everything else away to the democrats. the split between the suburban managers, outer rings, that is over. what we saw in virginia is the outer ring voted just like the inner ring for the democrats. that is because whether you are a corporate manager or an urban ring profession, you are in favor of globalization. you are defined by your skills, not where you live. and they want a society that has open trade, open globalization. so, what you see is a realignment of a lot of the former republicans that were favorable to globalization are now becoming democrats. and that is why i think the democrats --
charlie: is it more sustaining beyond one election period? david: i think it is because it is not just trump. the republican party has become the party of the somewheres. the party of people who are rejecting a meritocracy, rejecting globalization -- at least extremely skeptical of it. it is deeper than just one person. second, i think it is going to be a long time before a party that is frankly stained by trump can erase that stain, and we have seen parties like that. this strikes me as a much deeper -- does it mean the democrats are suddenly going to have 30 years of total dominance? possibly, but you look around the world and you do not see left-wing dominance at this moment. what you see is left-wing parties collapsing around europe. charlie: except in britain. david: except in britain where they have come back from the mistakes of the brexit. so, what you are seeing -- i would include britain in this -- the collapse of parties altogether. all the parties all at once.
the fragmentation of parties out to the marginal parties and the collapse of the centrist parties. i think you will see some of that in britain. that is how they talk -- all of our parties are in decay. it is interesting here because the parliamentary system has a lot of parties. we just have two, so what does a party collapse look like when you only have two parties? that is an interesting question and to me the answer is what you get is the parties being taken over by small minorities, small passionate minorities within the parties like steve bannon. charlie: let's talk about steve bannon. steve bannon talks about being a populist. he suggests that populism is here to stay, but does not know whether it will be populism in the end from the left or from the right. david: i agree with him. around the time you had your "60 minutes" interview, i met with him. it was like meeting trotsky in 1905. it was like -- he has a 50-year plan or 100 year plan, like sarah palin was part of the plan, patrick buchanan was part of the plan. donald trump is just one little
chapter in the plan. taking over institutions, creating a battle of ideas -- i think he is right. charlie: you think he is right on? david: that it will be around forever. that is the fundamental definition of our era. populism and response to populism. populism or liberalism. these are the two sides. what is striking about this battle is the populists are filled with conviction. they are organized, like people like bannon. -- by people like bannon. are other people in europe. the liberals would call them -- those who believe in free change -- i'm one. we're dispersed. we have no conviction, we have no faith in ourselves and we are so not used to defending the things we believe in, we have forgotten all of the arguments. charlie: the revolution and the conservatives that preceded it when it became a movement, like we used to say from buckley to reagan and forward, that was a movement. did that have conviction, did
that have ideas? david: for sure. my mentor was william f. buckley. when i joined "the national review" in 1985 or 1984, it had a long history. we had a very cohesive movement mentality and a set of ideas that were right for that moment, in my view. the book that explains all of this is "the structure of scientific revolutions." the way that progress moves forward you have a paradigm. , you have this framework that seems to explain reality and over time, the facts begin to contradict the framework. and then you get somebody who comes in and smashes the paradigm and that was donald trump. he came in and poof, the republican paradigm just collapsed. and then you get a period of competing paradigms to see what is next. trump is like -- i compared him to abby huffman. abby huffman was not a great political planner, but he was great at political theater.
he used theater to expose the weaknesses of the old order. that is donald trump. charlie: is the damage that you believe donald trump has done, how would you characterize it? david: he has degraded public life. he's aroused a bigotry. he's degraded intellectual virtue, to use a pompous term. the idea that you should be, try to be honest and if somebody exposes that you are against the evidence, you at least try to feel uncomfortable about that fact. i think he has destroyed the republican party as i know it and a lot of my friends have known it. charlie: destroyed it? david: i don't think it is coming back to what it was. i should say he's not the only destroyer. it aged. it stayed stuck with ronald reagan and stuck with reaganism from 1980 to 2017, long after it should have been retired. the old order -- this is true across this whole deal -- the old order is complicit in its own destruction.
liberalism, broadly defined, really did pay attention to a -- didn't pay attention to a lot of the people who are suffering from it. the meritocracy and the privileging of ivy league schools and all of that, those people really did drift off into another universe filled with self-satisfaction, high incomes, no contact with anybody else. so when you look at the historical transition in the way we are in, it is not like the peasants rose up and they're the last gasp of the dying white america. there were significant flaws within the establishment that had to be addressed by somebody. if the establishment was too lame to do it themselves, donald trump was happy to do that. charlie: did donald trump win that election or did hillary clinton lose it? david: of course, the answer is always both, but i would say that you have to blame -- the republicans lost to trump and hillary and they didn't understand what year they were in. they did not understand what
debate they were having. they still thought the debate was big government versus small government. donald trump knew it was open versus closed, and he was having a different debate. he was going to use government in this, in his promises, and not use it for that. frankly, i still see the democratic reaction to the republican tax plan as old thinking. henry ford can sell every color model t as long as they were black. he had one model. the democrats respond to every republican tax plan by saying it is money going to the rich, taking away from the poor. charlie: it is a political slogan. david: that is sort of true but not really the truth. the republican tax plan takes a lot of money away from the rich. they just happen to be democratic rich people who live in states like new york and california, who live in homes where their mortgages are over $500,000. who work at elite universities. there are a lot of stuff in the republican plan that takes away from rich people, but basically it is an argument against blue state rich people and for corporations.
it is the belief that corporations are the tool to generate broad spread wealth. i believe that human capital is the tool to generate broad spread wealth so i would not tax universities or student loans, but republicans do not believe in that. they do not believe in a meritocracy in a way that i believe in it, they believe in corporations. it is a different debate than just we are taking from the poor to give to the rich. it is a much more complicated debate. charlie: because of the belief that corporations will create a vital and growing economy. david: that is their belief. it is not a stupid belief. charlie: in part. they are high. david: yeah. our corporate taxes are way high and suffer us to compete for global investment. charlie: they have billions of dollars they could use. they have brought it back and used it before. david: there is one study that if you did corporate reform right, you would increase median household income.
by $3500. that would be huge. charlie: you raised the point in today's column that if the majority that came out of the election on tuesday is to succeed and sustain itself, they would have to have a practical plan to to enhance universal mobility. the age of democratic dominance, if they can find a way to create that, then they can dominate because those people who are providing majorities for them in the election, that is what they are looking for. david: their lives are all about rising. in northern virginia where this election was decided this week, the immigrants who were there -- the immigrant richness in northern virginia is amazing. the whites who live in loudoun county and work around dulles, where there are a lot of corporate office headquarters, they believe in movement and
upward mobility. if democrats say we will get you get into better schools, help you have job training, gave you a sense that your life is on the move. american mobility is on the decline. then that is talking right at what those people want. but there will be a tendency the , democrats will move left, no question. if they talk about -- that is not where the people in loudoun county and douglas county, colorado. that's not the people in columbus, ohio -- that is to them old-fashioned liberalism and not where they are right now. at a time when populism is rising in the democratic party, the party has to look for this kind of populism or an agenda that is more about universalism. not about rich versus poor, but we can all rise together. charlie: what is the populism within the democratic party? david: the believe that the oligarchy is rigging the system.
it's bernie sanders. that is populism. charlie: bernie sanders is the perfect example of laying everything on the foot of wall street. david: that fundamental inequality is the top 1%. the fundamental inequality is not the top 1%, it is the top 20%. it's the people with college degrees that have taken off somewhere else. that makes a less good bogeyman story to tell. it is just the hedge fund guys. the problem is the meritocracy and the way people in college degrees are raising their children differently investing , in their children and isolating themselves through marriage and everything else and becoming more attenuated from the rest of the country. charlie: this is in part what inspired the arab spring. the recognition because of the access to media, because of the internet. these people and saw a lot of different people doing well and they weren't because of autocratic regimes and because -- they saw unemployment at eye level.
-- high levels. they saw the world of competition and places where they were doing quite well. they revolted. certainly in egypt, that was what it was about. david: and some of us were a little naive. i covered ukraine and russia at the start of the soviet union. we thought we had it figured out. and a lot of people in the middle east and apparently here said no, that is not the answer and they are much more open to other answers. the reason they think that is not the answer is because it is not working for them, but that it creates a crisis of social solidarity. it creates too much loneliness, social fragmentation. it is not giving them the rich community which is the essence of a good life. the failure of the old order is not only an economic failure, it is a spiritual failure. charlie: so what happens to
those people who are living in somewhere? what is their future? david: i say to this politico story, johnston in a steel mill, we have all been to these towns where the mills close and everybody knows they are not coming back. but their family is there, but there's nothing to do there. so the opioid abuse is incredible. go to pittsburgh. charlie: more people died from opiate abuse last year than in the entire vietnam run. david: right. hertzberg -- pittsburgh is a perfect example. pittsburgh is a great city. you think that pittsburgh is having a revival. carnegie mellon is having a revival. the steel towns around the river are not having a revival. a few live there, we would all be on opiates, because there is nothing else to do. how to get a revival in those places is a very difficult problem that is so socially deep.
it is not simply you can give them jobs. to get a good job, you have to test, drug test. most people, young men cannot pass in the drug test. it is such a deep social crisis and that is why it is a crisis of neighborhood, community and family. it is going to take a different role of government to redo the social fabric. ♪
charlie: two of the issues you bring about -- one is guns. even after las vegas and what happened at a variety of places where guns were used, you assume there would be some action. some action at the state level. you argue that what has to happen before people really come to grips with the use of guns. david: there has been a lot of action. 26 states have all passed rules loosening them, not tightening. are nobecause guns longer about the material object guns have become a cultural , totem. people like me, gun rights advocates basically say we have guns guns are the symbol of my , freedom, the symbol of the capacity to defend my family in a dangerous world, a symbol of independence so this is my symbol.
this is the symbol i used to define myself. those people over there, they are trying to take them away. it is not really about a gun anymore. charlie: doesn't that come to the question of who defines the debate? if the debate is about whether i can keep my guns as an act of freedom, then no one is easily going to give that up. the debate has to be larger and of a different kind. david: a lot what has happened is our politics has become about our cultural identity. if you want to make progress in any of these fields whether it is this or global warming, get it out of the cultural identity business. the way you do that is you get gun control advocates coming from the same culture as a lot of gun-control defenders. we are sitting in a building owned by michael bloomberg. he was a big gun control advocate, but frankly, it did not help.
he spent a lot of money. it did not help the mayor of new york leading this charge. it has to be somebody from alabama. somebody's who's cultural identity is pure, of one sort , and who can say i am one of you but that is crazy what is happening in the schools and churches and things like that. charlie: the other issue you have spoken to is the issue of sexual harassment. in a very interesting way in terms of defining the three ages of man. david: how do we think about sex? i think there was a time, i will not i realize that time -- first, you do sex in marriage. sex is in marriage and it is a sacred thing. it is a fulfillment of the marriage vow. then there was another realm, you only have sex with people you love. that is the final sense of communication over who you want to spend the rest of your life with. charlie: a defining emotional
attachment. david: and then it has become in some corners, it is what you do for pleasure. if you have been on a college campus or in new york bar or a club, it is very naked. if you are dancing at 2:00 in the morning and nobody is coming home with you, i will find some body else, because that is what i am here for. it became just a source of pleasure in the third regime. in the fourth regime, it became this weird mixture which is the harassment regime which is the weird mixture of sexuality and power. these two things fused together. the men who do this tend to start young, and as we have learned over the past several weeks, this is a lifetime pattern. when it is louis c.k., harvey weinstein, whoever -- a lot of women come out of the woodwork because it is the weird mixture of lust combined with the dominance combined with the inability to see the person you are there with. what struck me about the
-- a lot of people have denied it, some have apologies. what struck me about the apologies, the first thing they say -- i had no idea the women were thinking this way. it is an inability to put their mind in the mind of the person you are pushing yourself all over. it is sort of a moral humanist blindness. toward another human being's experience. charlie: it is a significant societal change. the first thing that i think is going to have been -- some friends of mine at the new republic, there was a case involving this. someone complained to the then editor, a very good guy. he raised a ruckus a bit, but now i hope it will not just be a little ruckus. it will be code red, we will not tolerate this. it became somehow -- it was not something people got their hair on fire over.
now it will be something they get their hair on fire. the uncomfortable thing for a progressigresses -- ves thing, quite frankly is how , much did the clinton thing create this environment, the tolerance of bill clinton? charlie: how much do you think? david: i think it is had an effect. nobody was approving of bill clinton and some of the things he was accused of doing, but people were not say it we are drawing the line here. if you don't draw lines in these big cases, then you don't draw lines in the little cases in the workplace. now we are seeing, we saw republicans tolerating with what donald trump was accused of doing. today, we are seeing this astounding case were republicans in alabama are tolerating what judge roy moore is doing, making advances on a 14-year-old girl
and some others. one of the defenses from republican officials down there was well, joseph was with mary , when mary was a teenager in the bible. are you kidding me? that is the argument you are using? it is mind-boggling. it is a sign of how partisanship has replaced everything else. partisanship can blind you towards morality, truth. partisanship has become the idol of our time. charlie: this is said often and the thing that shifts america more often than any other thing, for all of its advances and power, is politics in washington. whether it is gridlock or the partisanship. which is in part gridlock, which threatens our advancements forward in science and a whole range of other range of things we care deeply about. charlie: when you travel around the country, it is not depressing to be in america.
-- david: when you travel around the country, it is not depressing to be in america. everywhere you meet people are starting amazing companies or starting amazing ngo's. they are healing communities in one way or another. charlie: and you meet some phenomenal young people. some remarkable things they have a commitment to. david: go to any college in america, it lifts you up so much. i was in north carolina recently. it's just like -- i am not a declinist of america. i think we are in a transition. charlie: transition to? david: that, i don't know. i would say it is deeper than just politics. our political dysfunction i think really comes about of our social dysfunction. the fact that we are not connected to each other and we have lost the skills of connection, intimacy. there was a lot of inequality and racism in the 1950's, but people served in the work together and there was a basic level of intimate connection.
we have attenuated that in a million different ways, so families are disconnected. charlie: meanwhile back in washington, you have the mueller investigation. david: that is the wildcard. we are all on the pre-state, not knowing what he is going to find and how donald trump will react. i have to say, a lot of my colleagues in the punditry world, when the indictments came down, they went to defcon-9 and i was at defcon-3. the crucial difference to me is i asked, what did trump do? what did he has a human being do that would make us think this scandal will lead to something that was going to alter the trajectory of this administration? so far, i don't see any evidence that he himself did anything that was going to alter that trajectory. he hired this guy manafort, a sleaze ball, got it. he hired flynn. got it. actual collision between him and the russians?
maybe. maybe bob mueller will find that. but until we get to that point, i'm not thinking that is going to cure us of donald trump. charlie: i know people who have talked to donald trump and he will say things like i have done a lot of things, but i did not do this. david: once you get an investigation going, you can go on to other things. the ken starr investigation did not start with an intern. charlie: the question was raised about this investigation, and you hear people looking at it, and in fact, you had a column about it -- you have in washington people we respect calling into question the president's fitness for the job. david: there are people who come out of meetings with him and say, he will start one sentence here, and it will veer off. charlie: suggesting what? david: there is some -- i don't know what. i don't want to go there, but he
certainly speaks differently now than he did in the 1980's. people have done these side-by-side tv interviews. the old trump spoke in full paragraphs, complete sentences, coherent thoughts, and this guy is not that. it could be that he decided as a lot of politicians have decided that it is smart to be less articulate. i saw that with bush. in private the guy was way smarter than he was in public. i don't know what it is, but i do know you never meet anybody who goes into the white house or works in the white house who says, wow, this guy is so impressive. it is odd to be around washington and this white house because usually, the people in the white house, they are in the midst of their biggest fifth-grade crush. they crush on the president so insanely. there was one interview i was in
obamaddle of the administration, and in the middle of the interview, the president left the back door to get off the helicopter and walk across the lawn, and the guy i was interviewing said, i want to see this. he got up and turned his back to me just so he could see obama's back for 20 seconds. the great crush of his life was walking. he just wanted to gaze upon the love of his life. that is the way white houses are. people love their president. not this time. charlie: with george w. bush, people would say, he is smarter than people think. with bill clinton, they would say, this guy is really smart, and with barack obama. you are among others would write about how this was an enormously confident and talented person. david: and to be fair, i had great access in all of those white houses, not so much in this one, which has been liberating in a way. one of the corruptions of journalism is not ideological
bias, it is friendship. you want to protect your sources. you are always worried about sources and things like that, and that is what you're navigating. a, i don't have any sources. i am free to just go. but also, the weird thing about trump, the white house leaks like crazy. they leak to a lot of "new york times" reporters, and it doesn't seem to hurt their access. it just keeps on going, which is sort of perverse. charlie: the people that have written sharply about the president get phone calls from the president. david: if you had asked me five years ago about how we were doing in the media, i would have thought, we are in a long-term decline, but now we are in a moment of both economic and i think quality of journalism is amazing right now, in part because we have this phenomenal story in front of us, and in part because people want to get the truth. there has been this --
charlie: the story being what is happening in america? or the world. the change in the world order and everything else. david: "the times," online subscribers are all the way up. the people saying, this is big. "the post" is doing great. "the journal" is doing great. one of the tweets i saw from our reporters after a great numbers look, we are failing at failing. it's been -- i work in the washington bureau, and big stories hit the front pages at night. the reporters are sitting 50 feet away from me, and it's very honoring to be in the room with people who are finding the truth about things. charlie: when you look overseas and look at america's role and when you look at trump even in china and vietnam yesterday, talking about, i believe in
america first, and all you countries should believe in your country first -- you see the recognition of what is happening in china. we are clearly approaching a time in the next 15-20 years when china will have the biggest economy in the world. china has authoritarianism. you look at what xi jinping has done, and what other people are doing, they have used the idea of corruption not only to clear out corruption, but to consolidate power. you see autocrats consolidating power, whether it's in china or saudi arabia, but you get the clear sense that china is ready to challenge the united states. they even talk today about a kind of g2, two super powers in the world. and we are one of them. david: this is all extremely dangerous, but i was thinking when i said "this cultural moment. i am free to be myself." what is more free to be myself than america first? would you go into a friendship and say, i'm in this for me, and you are in this for you? with that make a stronger friendship? would you say that at your company?
with that make a stronger company? it's the same in the world. if you say, i'm in it for america first, and you are in it for yourself first, does that make a stronger world? no. we are all actually better together and when we cooperated bob kagan and many others have made this point. when you are the top dawgnation coming you want multilateral power because it gives you a tool to extend your own power. charlie: yes. david: if we go back to where we are all dog eat dog, that is not good for any of us, so what trump embodies in his foreign-policy is an inherent suspicion of social connection, whether it is global or personal. it's an assumption that we are all competing against each other, that we are in a world of us and enemy, and that is his view of race in america. charlie: and it's about winning.
david: you are locked in conflict, and conflict is the essential order. of course, that is sometimes true, but that doesn't mean it is always true. and the belief in the liberal global order was the belief that we are not locked in conflict. sometimes its arguments, sometimes it's competition, but it is essentially communication beings where the barriers are not essential, where we are not defined by our differences but our common humanity. that is what the liberal order used a believe in, and people like me used to advocate for spreading democracy around the world. sometimes, we were naïve. iraq was iraq, and it didn't work out, but it was a belief in the central progress. history is not just an endless war of all against all but a common march towards a common future. charlie: when you look at this pivotal moment, what are the choices? david: the big choice is, i'm going to speak as a classical
liberal now -- the people living in youngstown or wherever, do we say, there is no use dealing with them? we have just got to to run them over? the demography is on our side. and that i think would be a mistake that would rip at our society. i think the choice is to say, one, let's get the people who believe in the liberal order, let's gather together into a bipartisan movement. there are republicans and democrats on both sides. two, how can we fix the system that we allowed to get corrupt and bifurcated? how can we repair the social fabric? and so what is depressing to me is that hundreds of years ago, americans had a similar problem. industrialization tore apart the old order and created inequalities, these injustices, and they created institutions. they created the federal reserve system.
they created the fda, the force the service, the civil service to clean up government in cities around the country. they created boy scouts. or at least brought it from england. they created all of these big institutions which transformed america. we don't seem to be as good at building new institutions. maybe it is early days yet, but we haven't yet developed of the institutional responses to the crisis we are in. ♪
♪ charlie: is your sense that -- you see it in the political world today -- the kind of leaders who have the capacity to do all the things we had been talking about at this table today. david: a friend of mine who supports republican candidate said, who should i give money to to beat trump? should it be john kasich, or is there somebody else out there? and i could have some names. ben sasse, the senator from nebraska, but to me, the work beneath politics needs to be done. politicians cannot leave out of a void. there have to be structures that say we will catch you and lift you up. a lot of work has to be done. this may convict me of being an inside the beltway person, but i didn't know a lot of people in the u.s. senate, and i would not say the quality of the individual has declined in the 25 years i have been covering this body. i think cory booker, ben sasse,
tom cotton, rob portman -- you can pick any group of them -- we would all be impressed by them. if you met them outside of politics, you would say, what an impressive human being. it's the fact that they are stuck in this rotten system. so cleaning up the system and breaking the system is more important than finding some magic personality. charlie: when you think about that, donald trump said, i'm coming to fix the system. i'm going to drain the swamp. i'm going to do all those things. i'm going to take care of the moneyed interests and politics. none of those things happened. when barack obama came to washington, he said, i'm going to engage in bipartisanship. i'm going to try to heal this gridlock. couldn't do it. david: george w. bush said the exact same thing. charlie: george bush said the same thing. he was interrupted by war, but barack obama had majorities in both congresses.
david: he was in the midst of a financial crisis and the republican party the way it was, and his own personality -- he wasn't always the most social guy with other politicians. [laughter] charlie: gently saying it. david: the other thing that i think, looking back on the obama administration, obama bears some responsibility for what came next. you have this guy from harvard law surrounded by guys from yale law, and they created a government that was overly technocratic. i do think one of the things that has to happen is that institutions have to begin sharing power, and whether it's my newspaper or any ngo, there have to be more trump people, gun rights people, pro-life people in the room. the social segmentation is wide, and it can only be cured by
sharing power, being in the room, and a lot of that social segmentation, there are cultural signals we send out that are invisible to us, but our visible to other people. i once wrote a column that got me in trouble about this. if you go into a whole foods or trader joe's, i feel pretty fine walking around, but for a lot of people who are less part of the cultural, educated elite, there are all these signals being sent by the signifiers, the organic this. it is like, hey, what is this world? they feel uncomfortable. it's very easy to create social distance in ways you are not even aware of. charlie: hillary clinton told me in talking about her campaign, and she recognized lots of the problem she had with that campaign, and it is easy to say this now. she said to me, in fact, the speech she was going to write upon winning the presidency -- she had a winning speech, not a
concession speech -- was a reaching out to the people she failed to win the support of. part of what you are saying is that there has to be at least that kind of recognition and not let those people living somewhere feel like they are isolated and that the rest of the world's foreign and they are where they are because the world has turned unfair. david: i would say reaching out is necessary but not sufficient. we have all had this experience in different parts of the country. i'm from "the new york times." i like to reach out to you. screw you! i don't want you reaching out to me. i don't want you reaching out to me. [laughter] i totally get that. david: my answer on this is on race, and it's not enough to have the conversation. charlie: exactly. david: you have the worldview, but you also have a common project. it can't just be, you are red, i'm blue. it has to be, we have got a
problem with opioids. i don't care who you are. if you can help me with this problem, we are on board. so i have always thought, you know, people always say, we should have a conversation about race, and that seems self absorbed to me. we should get together across racial lines and have a conversation about something else. that a celebrity is good and politics. bono is really good in politics, and when you watched him work, he didn't care if you were jesse helms or bill clinton. anybody that would help him with aids in africa, you are on my team. charlie: it started with debt relief. david: so he understood and understands his mission, and he is willing to put everything else secondarily to that mission . that is actually a good way to approach change. there was a guy named mark dunkelman who says we have three rings of relationships.
inner ring, our family and friends. the outer ring, people we know on facebook. then there's this little ring, like the pta. if you are on the pta, you don't know if they are republicans or democrats. you are just there for schools. those middle ring institutions have hollowed out. we are less likely to be working with people who disagree with us on one thing, but we share this other thing. that is how social fabric is woven. charlie: of all the things we have been talking about, what is most likely to emerge as a focus for you? david: the book i'm working on and halfway through, i don't know if it will be called "the ," but themitment basic idea is that, in our lives, we make four big commitments, and the success and fulfillment of our lives depends on how we execute those commitments. spouse and family, vocation, community, and a philosophy or faith. what i'm trying to figure out for my own self and for others is, how do you construct a life where you are deeply embedded with other people, and out of
that you derive a clear sense of purpose and meaning in life? like a lot of people, you get to a certain age, and you achieve a certain amount of success, and it's not fulfilling. you want to know, how do i live life to the moral fullest? like a lot of people, i am much more articulate about politics than i am about moral elevation. how to become a better person, so my books are explorations of problems i am facing. i have this theory that a lot of us in our lives -- for viewers over 60, i hope this will resonate -- we have two mountains in our lives. when you are young, you are like, i'm going to become a good journalist. i'm going to be a good doctor, a good teacher. the first mountain is about establishing your identity, making your mark in the world, i am going to create a great family, and you either achieve that mountain or get knocked
off, or something else happens, the death of a child or something else. to go off into the valley, and from the valley, you get more clarity. you realize, oh, that was not my mountain. the second mountain is less about building things up and more about pouring things forth. it's more about elevation and more about giving to others. it's less external, more internal. i see people around who, sometimes, they have given the second half of their lives to charity or they are tibetan monks, or they have gone back into school. or they have stayed in the same job, but it's no longer about building up their ego but transcending their ego. and they do their jobs in a different way. i see all sorts of people who are on their second mountain, and it's one of the most beautiful things in our society. people at the age of 65 are no longer old. people that 75 are no longer old. we've suddenly got a lot more years out of the tail end of life to take the big risk and do the big thing.
i meet so many people on that second mountain. charlie: you have set a number of things over the years. i remember one was, when you talked about looking at your resume and your eulogy -- think about your eulogy. the other thing you wrote about was this idea that we are all am i, to thinkho can my less about introspection but look at some larger purpose. how am i part of something that is much bigger than who i am? david: who am i is the wrong question. we have a whole culture that is based on this individualism of the past 50 years, which says, be free. value your time. you do you. march to the beat of your own drum. charlie: it came from the 1960's. david: and the reagan era, as well. those are all the wrong places to look, in my view. you don't want to declare your independence.
you want to declare your dependence. you want to create intimacy. how you take the courage to be intimate, especially middle-aged white guys who are averse to expressing her emotions a lot of the time, how you have the courage to be emotionally open to those experiences and create intimate bonds, and to me, my talk about commitments, first, it starts with falling in love with something. you fall in love with science, astronomy, or economics, but then there can be moments, any vocation or marriage, where it is going to stink. you have to fall in love with something and then build a structure of behavior around it for when the love fails. you are a teacher, but there are some moments when it is no fun anymore, and you go through long periods where you think, it's my identity. i am at the double negative. i cannot do this. most of the time, you come out the other end of the bad moments, and you find it more
fulfilling than ever. charlie: did you find this by deep questions within your own mind, from what you read, what you saw, or did you find this from personal experience, has you looked at your own life? david: i wish i could find it by personal experience. i'm not that smart. i find it by looking at people who have done it well and have written about it well. there's a guy in new mexico richard rohrer, a franciscan monk, who writes about this beautifully. he writes about some of the first and second half of life. charlie: the mountains. david: he has versions based on carl young mixed with saint augustine. a first half about following the law, the rules, but then the second half is just about agape, selfless love. you see people who radiate
joyousness. charlie: they do. they have a special grace. david: you know, the dalai lama is like this. i've been reading a lot of accounts of joy. i think we all want to radiate not just happiness, but a deep radiance, a joyousness, all the time that we take into every day. and we all know people like that. it has nothing to do with how much money they make. i think they have achieved -- they are not worrying about their ego. whatever they have achieved is on the far side of selfless service. so they have succumbing and given themselves without thinking about themselves to something for a very long time, and there is some sort of peace. believe me, i do not have this myself, but i see it in others. there's one passage. there was a guy, a rabbi, who was marching in selma with dr. king, and he said, marching
across that bridge -- a moment of great peril -- was the most transcendent experience i've ever had. there was a feeling of oneness, a feeling of deep intimacy with one another, a feeling that we history could change and that we could make a change. and he talked about this swelling out. often, when you talk about people writing about their moments of great joyousness, often, it is collective moments. common movement, dancing together, moving together, they are doing something together. charlie: breathing in unison. david: that is a very good way to put it. when you think of celebrations across all societies, it is rhythmic dance together. sometimes we do that through common effort. i saw this movie recently "hidden figures," and you wouldn't say it was a happy period because there was a lot of struggle, but they were involved in something important and they were doing it together. charlie: they work for nasa.
david: they had intensity. i think kierkegaard or somebody said, happiness is moving with your whole will in one direction wholeheartedly. if we can all be seized by something that can wholeheartedly move us in one direction, that is the magic. charlie: and we will be the greatest beneficiary of it ourselves. david: the hard part is being seized. we want to do our homework and choose, but the people who achieve that, they are grabbed by something. they are responding to something. to get and that position where you can respond to a call outside of yourself, you have to be open and humble and be patient for that call. most of us want to be in control not let something outside ourselves call us into submission. charlie: david, thank you. good to have you. david brooks, thank you for joining us. we will see you next time. ♪
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