Jim Verhulst - Editorial Writer
Here’s what to read from the left and the right this week
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.

We live in a partisan age, and our news habits can reinforce our own perspectives. Consider this an effort to broaden our collective outlook with essays beyond the range of our typical selections.


From “The Republican Plot Against The Popular Will,” by Matt Ford in the New Republic.

The context, from the author: Democracy’s central principle is that the people should decide their own future by electing their own leaders. A growing number of conservatives disagree.

The excerpt: In theory, a party whose stances and candidates don’t command public support is supposed to lose the election. Once out of power, they can either engage in the hard work of persuading the electorate that they’re right, or change their policies to better match what voters want. A growing number of Republicans no longer appear interested in pursuing either strategy. Instead, they hope to use all the structural advantages they enjoy — a demographic edge in the Senate and the Electoral College, a solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court, and gerrymandered seats in state legislatures—to overcome their greatest disadvantage of all: getting fewer votes than their opponents.

From “Democrats Need to Stop Freaking Out About Polls,” by Jeet Heer in The Nation.

The context, from the author: Centrists are overplaying the prospect of Trump’s reelection to scare Democrats away from progressive candidates.

The excerpt: Fear breeds bad decisions. In the primaries, it is fear above all that is keeping Joe Biden, a deeply flawed candidate, viable. Biden’s supporters are risk-averse, believing that his record of being on a winning national ticket makes him the safe bet. As a moderate, he supposedly won’t frighten the swing state voters. ... The big picture is that Trump remains unpopular and Democratic voters are energized to kick him out. The Democratic standard-bearer has to be someone who can harness the passion that already exists to move beyond Trump. Primary voters should be confident enough to vote not out of fear but out of hope.

From “Is Democracy Doomed?” by Chris Maisano in Jacobin.

The context, from the author: Research shows that the organized working class, and industrial workers in particular, have been the driving force for democracy around the world. The question is whether the erosion of the industrial working class will weaken our prospects for democratic politics.

The excerpt: Can organized service workers exercise a sufficient level of social power to challenge capital and democratize political systems? Or does the erosion of the industrial working class and its geographic dispersion doom us all to a greater or lesser degree of oligarchic domination? It’s still too early to give a definitive answer to these questions. The only certainty is that the traditional social underpinnings of democratic politics have come undone.


From “How Warren Wooed The White Left,” by Peter Spiliakos in the National Review.

The context, from the author: For ideological white liberals, abolishing private health insurance is a character issue. It wasn’t about the candidate actually hunting down every last private health-insurance policy if she should become president. It was about not preemptively surrendering during the primary. It was about showing guts when you were attacked. It was about showing leftist voters that you would fight for them.

The excerpt: It appears that there were quite a few liberals who — all other things being equal — preferred a younger African American woman (Kamala Harris) to a rich old white lady (Warren) who had spent her life pretending to be Native American. ... Warren kept faith with white liberals; Harris didn’t, and that made all the difference.

From “Trump Derangement Is Destroying Political Analysis,” by Mollie Hemingway in the Federalist.

The context, from the author: While failing to understand the country you’re paid big bucks to understand is humiliating, admitting their failure would have been a better alternative to the spiral of Trump Derangement that grips many of our media and continues to make their political analysis a sad joke.

The excerpt: If one wants to argue that one party is mindlessly tribal, the numbers (from a new Monmouth poll) clearly show that the anti-Trump Resistance is the most mindless and tribal faction in American politics today. And the actions of the Resistance only prove this point, from refusing to accept the election results, to fighting the Electoral College, to fantasizing about ousting Trump via the 25th Amendment, to supporting an unelected and unaccountable resistance in the bureaucracy, to the dangerous and eventually debunked Russia collusion hoax that spawned a damaging special counsel probe, to the most recent incarnation of their multi-year impeachment efforts. But wouldn’t a better analysis merely note that people in political parties tend to support their party’s top official and oppose the opposing party’s top official? That’s actually quite normal.

From “A Note to Progressives: Tell Me How This Ends,” by Peter Van Buren in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: With what you hear limited to what you believe, the need to think is a vestigial limb in society’s evolution. Instead of thinking — critically weighing information, asking hard questions instead of ingesting easy answers — you have been conditioned simply to react. The goal is to keep you in a constant state of manipulable outrage.

The excerpt: I worry about you (progressives). You’ve quit listening. You’ve quit thinking that listening is important. You’ve convinced yourself listening is wrong, instead choosing to call things you don’t want to hear hate speech and dehumanizing those who say them. Nazis don’t deserve to speak so let’s punch them in the head, and everyone you don’t want to listen to is a Nazi.