When the Times opinion page pretends that conservatism is David Brooks or Bret Stephens when it maintains the comforting illusion that American politics is a contest of ideas, it is not exposing its readers to uncomfortable truths — it is sheltering them.
Do NYT readers — who mostly read mainstream sources, mostly live in cities, mostly are not exposed to right-wing media — understand that the most active voices on the American right today are filled with paranoid rage, hopped up on lies and conspiracy theories, unmoved by reason, and devoted to their total destruction? Do they understand that the values and norms they assume safe and sacrosanct are in fact under heavy siege? Do they know that American democracy is in danger of coming apart?
I’m not sure they do; I think they still imagine Republican moderates gathered in a cave somewhere, ready to swoop in and take charge again at the sight of the David Brooks bat signal.
If the NYT wants to challenge their assumptions, it should challenge those.