1. Opinion

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.
President Donald Trump, right, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pose for photographs as Giuliani arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Nov. 2016 in Bedminster, N.J.
Published Nov. 17

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 Foreign Policy Establishment Is Hijacking Impeachment,” by Jeet Heer in The Nation.

The context, from the author: President Donald Trump should be impeached for using his office for corrupt purposes — not for challenging the national security consensus.

The excerpt: Trump should not be impeached because he upset the national security establishment. Presidents have not just the right to disregard that establishment but, in fact, would usually be wise to do so. ... Even the fact that Trump runs a messy White House where goons like Giuliani are elbowing career diplomats isn’t really a good reason to impeach him. Giuliani is repugnant, but there’s ample precedent for a White House with private back channels.

From “Come on Down and Testify, Donald Trump!” by Matt Ford in The New Republic.

The context, from the author: The House Intelligence Committee should give the president a chance to clear up this whole Ukraine matter with his first-hand knowledge.

The excerpt: If the president feels that strongly about it, the House of Representatives should give him the opportunity to make his case in person before lawmakers and the American public. It would be extraordinary for a president to testify before Congress on any matter, let alone his own impeachment. But it’s not without precedent.

From “How America Ends: A Tectonic Demographic Shift Is Under Way. Can The Country Hold Together?” by Yoni Appelbaum in The Atlantic.

The context, from the author: Democracy depends on the consent of the losers. For most of the 20th century, parties and candidates in the United States have competed in elections with the understanding that electoral defeats are neither permanent nor intolerable. The losers could accept the result, adjust their ideas and coalitions, and move on to fight in the next election. The stakes could feel high, but rarely existential. In recent years, however, beginning before the election of Donald Trump and accelerating since, that has changed.

The excerpt: The history of the United States is rich with examples of once-dominant groups adjusting to the rise of formerly marginalized populations — sometimes gracefully, more often bitterly, and occasionally violently. ... But sometimes, that process of realignment breaks down. Instead of reaching out and inviting new allies into its coalition, the political right hardens, turning against the democratic processes it fears will subsume it. A conservatism defined by ideas can hold its own against progressivism, winning converts to its principles and evolving with each generation. A conservatism defined by identity reduces the complex calculus of politics to a simple arithmetic question — and at some point, the numbers no longer add up.


From “A Defining Statement of Modern Conservatism,” by Rich Lowry in the National Review.

The context, from the author: “A Time for Choosing” is a brilliant libertarian speech. But Ronald Reagan couldn’t have foreseen the toxic individualism that challenges us today.

The excerpt: The deeper current issue is that the chief suppressant of human flourishing may be not our overweening government but our tendency toward toxic individualism — we are now a people largely disconnected from marriage, church, and workplace, and too many American sink into self-destructive behavior and despair.

From “The Impeachment Circus Is Keeping Congress From Doing Its Real Job,” by Tristan Justice in The Federalist.

The context, from the author: The American people would be better served if Democrats worked with the president rather than spending three years drumming up conspiracy theories.

The excerpt: The fact is, impeachment brings legislating to a grinding halt. The American public would be better served if Democrats followed the will of the people and came to the table to work with the constitutionally elected president rather than spending three years drumming up conspiracy theories to reverse the results of a free and fair election.

From “Iraq: Is This What ‘Winning’ Looks Like?” by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: For ordinary Iraqis, their “liberation” turned out to be a purgatory, with a corrupt authoritarian elite at the helm.

The excerpt: It’s more than worth noting that the United States spent billions of dollars and sent thousands of troops, contractors, consultants, diplomats and all manner of do-gooders over to that country between 2003-2009 to help set up a stable, democratic government. Many of us knew it was a farce to begin with since we never asked the Iraqis what they wanted.


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