David Brooks's advice to Weiner: Why not read some Trollope?

In the 19th century, Anthony Trollope wrote a series of popular novels fussing over what it means to behave well in political life. Trollope’s view was different than ours. Many Americans today assume that people are born with a good Inner Self but get corrupted by politics. American voters are always looking for the Innocent Outsider who can come in and bring sweeping change.

Trollope admired Prudent Insiders, not Innocent Outsiders. His most admirable characters have been educated by long experience. They have grown mature by exercising responsibility. They have been ennobled by custom and civilization. In his books, powerless outsiders often behave self-indulgently and irresponsibly. Those who are in government have to grapple with the world as it really is…

Trollope’s readers would have come away from his books with a certain model for how practical people should behave, which they could either copy or argue with. I’m not sure his exemplars could thrive amid the TV politics of today, which calls for grand promises and bold colors. But there are prudent, reserved people in government even now. And if more people spent their evenings at least thinking about what exemplary behavior means, they might be less likely to find themselves sending out emotionally stunted tweets late at night.

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