I think I agree with just about all the substance of David Brooks’ concern trolling about the GOP (see, e.g., my final American Prospect column which made some similar points), but this minor aside strikes me as wrongheaded in an interesting way:
Second, there is the corrupting influence of teamism. Being a good conservative now means sticking together with other conservatives, not thinking new and adventurous thoughts. Those who stray from the reservation are accused of selling out to the mainstream media by the guardians of conservative correctness.
I think there’s perhaps some infelicitous phrasing in Brooks’ apparent contention that the true soul of conservatism lies in the thinking of “new and adventurous thoughts” (this doesn’t sound all that conservative) but one knows what he means. The conservative punditocratic establishment doesn’t reward independent thinking or clever new notions. Instead, it tends to reward team play and a somewhat abstruse and scholastic in-house quibbling rather than deep thinking about policy. That said, why shouldn’t “being a good conservative” mean “sticking together with other conservatives?” It seems to me that that’s exactly what it ought to mean. Insofar as someone — David Brooks, say — reaches conclusions at odds with an emphasis on sticking together with other conservatives, then so much the worse for conservatism, but it’s still the case that to be a good conservative means to stick with the conservatives.