David Brooks writes:
The suburbs happen to be where this election is being fought — around Philadelphia, New York, Denver, Minneapolis and Columbus. The general rule is that Democrats win in the more densely populated suburbs close to the cities and the Republicans win the more sparsely populated ones farther out. The central fight in American politics now is over where the line is demarking the two zones, and the central Republican problem is that every time the party mobilizes its exurban base it further alienates the marginal voters in traditional suburbs where Congressional elections are won or lost...
They are looking for orderly places to raise their children. They are what you might call antiparty empiricists. They distrust partisans and can't imagine why anyone would be sick enough to base an identity on a political organization. They don't expect much from government but a few competently delivered services, and they don't like public officials who unnerve them.
The Republicans used to do well in these areas, but now it's as if they are purposely trying to antagonize the married moms at the pseudo-New Urbanist outdoor cafes...As insular Democrats know little about what life is like in flyover country, so insular Republicans know little about how people think in the suburban Northeast
That's from a David Brooks column that appeared in October 2006. The column holds up pretty well. I've long nursed the idea of a journalism award (The Lipsky, after my longtime New York Sun and Forward editor) that would be granted for work published ten years earlier. The usual time lapse for journalism awards — mere months after an article is published — isn't long enough fully to measure the insightfulness of work. But looking back at the Brooks column now, a dozen years later, adds an additional insight: that whatever problems the Republican Party has today long predate President Trump, and in certain ways he's less the cause of them than a symptom of them. If anything, Trump, who has roots or at least residences in New York and New Jersey, may be better than, say, a Ted Cruz or a Mike Huckabee at winning over these Northern suburban voters. He certainly plays better on Long Island, for example.