The Corner

Re: Voegeli’s “Wilderness Years”

Ramesh, I look forward to your take. I thought it was very well done. Voegeli makes clear that the “traditionalists v. reformers” framework is David Brooks’s way of putting it more than his own formulation, and he demonstrates that — among the group designated as “reformers” by Brooks – there is enough disagreement that you could have a robust “reformers v. reformers” debate. Further, while staking out a traditionalist position, he acknowledges both that (a) striking the right balance between principle and positioning for electoral success to implement principle is challenging, and (b) a complacency that supposes principle can sit on its laurels and win just because it is principle (i.e., that fails to use principle affirmatively to present fresh ideas to voters) is a sure way to stay stuck in the wilderness. And it’s all done in a generally positive tone that shows this is a good debate to have. There’s a lot to depress us these days, but I must say I felt better about things after reading it — with the added benefit that Voegeli is a real pleasure to read.


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