Brooks Shares Political Insights

By Vritti Goel ‘12 & Lauren Prince ‘14

Editor-in-Chief and News Editor

David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, author, NPR news analyst, and political commentator (just to name a few achievements) visited Scripps as the Fifth Annual Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program speaker. He spent close to seven hours at Scripps on Feb. 8, meeting with a select group of students in a discussion setting, eating a special dinner with esteemed members of the colleges and giving a lecture open to the public.

Brooks began his interaction with students by assuring them that there were more options in life than “I-banking” (Investment banking) or something like Teach for America after college. The rest of the two-hour conversation between the political columnist and a group of 15 students consisted of topics that jumped from education to politics to his book, “Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There.”

Brooks entertained students in the discussion session with historical trivia on a number of topics, which highlighted his background in the subject—he graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in History. After briefly explaining his career, Brooks fielded questions from students. He drew from his experiences as a crime beat reporter in Chicago, to his stint as a movie and book reviewer, to his travels across the world for his political coverage.

While students were encouraged to read his book and discuss his views in the book, the questions asked related more to current events such as the conflict in Egypt, political parties and education. The highlight of his discussion with students, however, was his views on education. Brooks emphasized the liberal arts education model as a way for people to learn how to connect, which would, in turn, allow for a better life. He used his newest book, “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement”—out March 8—as an example. The book discusses the idea of learning through the unconscious and the importance of emotional connections.

Later that evening, he gave a lecture to the Scripps College community. His lecture was a peek into his new book “The Social Animal.” He combined witty and dry humor with his appreciated for politics and education. Brooks reminds us that politicians are humans and that it is difficult to anticipate reality and plan for it. He discusses the typical personality of politicians—they have Williamson’s Syndrome. This is characterized by “an unusually cheerful demeanor and ease with strangers.” This description is an example of his interactions with the audience.

Brooks referenced that society has changed from a tone of humility to a culture of self-expression and actions from professional football players to politicians reflect this change. This social freedom has given rise to society’s distrust in authority. He shared his experiences that lead him to become a conservative. After his lecture, he opened the floor for questions by the students.

Brooks’ expressed his political insights in his interactions with the Scripps students, faculty and the community. The Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program has brought yet another well-received speaker to Scripps.