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 LEFT
From “The Democratic Leadership’s Strategy on Impeachment Is Doomed and Dangerous,” by Aaron Maté in The Nation.
The context, from the author: It’s hard to take the charge that Trump is a threat to national security seriously when Democrats in Congress are happy to help him shovel more money at the military.
The excerpt: It is difficult to recall a time in recent memory when liberal US politics has been centered on issues so divorced from reality and from issues that matter to people’s lives. As the apotheosis of the Democratic Party’s Trump-era playbook, Wednesday’s impeachment vote was indeed the “solemn” day that Pelosi and company claimed it to be. Unless they change course, it is hard not to anticipate an even more solemn future.
From "Don’t Let Liberals Write Off Workers in ‘Flyover Country,’ ” by Marcie Smith in Jacobin.
The context, from the author: The New York Times tries to disorient its majority-urban readers, reassuring them that if the conditions in peripheral places (such as a poor county in Arkansas) are deplorable, it is because the people there are deplorable — there is no way such knuckle-draggers would ever support Medicare for All or tuition-free higher education. The solution to the crisis is, therefore, business (and politics) as usual.
The excerpt: The American ruling class is comfortable peddling narratives like this because it believes it can abandon places like Van Buren County (Arkansas) to reactionary politics and still beat Trump with some version of a 1990s Democrat, to be voted in by states with large progressive metropolitan regions by some narrow but sufficient margin. It’s a gamble, but one with which elites are comfortable — most would far rather risk a second Trump term than come anywhere near a Sanders presidency.
From “We Need a Massive Climate War Effort — Now,” by Kevin Drum in Mother Jones.
The context, from the author: The real issue is this: Only large-scale government action can significantly reduce carbon emissions. But this doesn’t let any of us off the hook.
The excerpt: Let’s be clear about something: We’re not talking about voluntary personal cutbacks. If you decide to bicycle more or eat less meat, great — every little bit helps. But no one who’s serious about climate change believes that personal decisions like this have more than a slight effect on the gigatons of carbon we’ve emitted and the shortsighted policies we’ve enacted. Framing the problem this way—a solution of individual lifestyle choices—is mostly just a red herring that allows corporations and conservatives to avoid the real issue.
FROM THE RIGHT
From “Trump Should Be Removed from Office,” an editorial in Christianity Today by Mark Galli.
The context, from the author: In our founding documents, Billy Graham explains that Christianity Today will help evangelical Christians interpret the news in a manner that reflects their faith. The impeachment of Donald Trump is a significant event in the story of our republic. It requires comment.
The excerpt: To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come?
From “Partisanship Doesn’t Entirely Explain Trump’s Impeachment,” by Jonah Goldberg in the National Review.
The context, from the author: The new normal is to worry about impeachment becoming the “new normal.”
The excerpt: I have no problem entertaining the idea that partisanship plays a significant role in what the Democrats are doing. But the notion that they impeached him purely for partisan reasons ignores a glaring fact: Trump gave them the excuse they were looking for. House speaker Nancy Pelosi spent months fighting impeachment efforts within her own caucus. If she’s the deranged partisan her detractors claim, why do that? What changed? The answer is obvious: Trump’s behavior. Whatever you think about what he did with regard to Ukraine, if he’s the master strategist some bizarrely still claim he is, his actions were a political mistake. Why? Because they at least appeared so atrocious that Pelosi could no longer fight back the impeachment effort (an effort half the country supports, by the way).
From “Impeachment And Our Government By Cult,” by Matt Purple in the American Conservative.
The context, from the author: That something so serious as impeachment has been made into a charade, a foregone conclusion, does not speak highly of our republic.
The excerpt: This is the most infuriating thing about our governance by clashing titans: in turning everything into an opera, it leaves not nearly enough room for the problem solving our country badly needs. The result isn’t classical liberalism or libertarianism or theocracy or progressivism; it’s a kind of arthritic conservatism, one that clings deadeningly to the status quo if only because our elected leaders are too distracted (and too weak) to change it, with power effectively ceded to the administrative state. This isn’t healthy in a republic. It also isn’t how most people look at politics; hence the frustration.