Columnist David Brooks — one of the most thoughtful newspaper writers of our time — delivered a well-received talk this week in Sarasota.
His address to more than 600 people at the Library Foundation of Sarasota County’s annual author luncheon resonated because:
• Library patrons and supporters tend to be inquisitive and civically engaged.
• Brooks offers antidotes to the coarse nature of political debate and divisions in the United States that have not been so deep since the tumultuous Sixties.
• Legions of local residents, individually and in groups, have been practicing what Brooks preaches — and have witnessed progress, albeit slow and incremental at times, as a result.
As he has done in columns published on the Herald-Tribune opinion pages, Brooks emphasized the need for citizens to develop positive individual relationships with each other and to build stronger community bonds.
Reporter Zac Anderson captured the essence of Brooks’ remarks with this quotation: [T]he country will turn around bottom up. It’s not going to be led by politics, that’s for sure.”
Brooks was focused on the status of national politics and, to that extent, he is correct; there is little hope, at least in the short term, for a functional and productive relationship between the president and Congress or, for that matter, between members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.