I typically agree with much of what David Brooks has to say. However, I'm afraid that he was way off the mark with his article "How Covenants Make Us." Demographic diversity in the United States is a good thing. The problem has to do with the lack of integration and assimilation of demographically diverse communities.
At its simplest denominator, a citizen is by principle afforded the right of being included in a group's decisions. But there is a special place for those who serve as policymakers and policy experts. But I offer the point in my book that "sometimes the rules are not made by the public required to follow them."
Demagogues are creations of the collective as much as they lead groups into warfare and hatred. They exist as a funnel for existential fears and frustrated longings. By reducing complexity down to simple answers, they make themselves into emotional magnets for dis-ease. How do we resist such temptations?
Perhaps the pope's statement that when it comes to the difficult issues of the day, "We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions," simply could not be heard in the political polarization that dominates Congress today.
Lost in the short-term attention commanded by Donald Trump in the first Republican primary debate was a long-term problem for the party, created by questions that compelled the candidates to take positions at odds with a majority of Americans. While the debate questions were smart and sharp, they were also predicated on many conservative litmus tests. When the subjects of abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration and religion were aired, they elicited responses that, while pleasing to a core constituency, will be a tough sell in the general election. Adherents can get their news in a manner that validates their beliefs, notwithstanding that the objective of those outlets is to draw clicks from adherents based on controversy that would not exist in a world of compromise.