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  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.
In this image from video, the vote total, 53-47 for not guilty, on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of congress, is displayed on screen during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate. [AP]

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 “Against Despair: A Case for Optimism After the Impeachment Trial,” by Anna Galland in The Nation.

The context from the author: With hope and hard work, we can defeat Trump in November, hold GOP senators accountable for enabling him, and renew our democracy. But we’ll have to believe in ourselves, and to remain hopeful about could lie ahead for our country.

The excerpt: The moral arc of the universe really does bend toward justice. On days when you feel especially catastrophic, it’s helpful to put our current situation in historical context: There have always been fierce, highly politicized battles over basic human dignity, and over the shape of our politics and economy. Social movements have stared down long or near-impossible odds, from abolishing slavery to ending the use of child labor — and prevailed. One collection of inspiring essays from movement history bears the apt title, “The Impossible Will Take a Little While.”

From “Can Corporate America Get Behind Medicare for All?” by Libby Watson in the New Republic.

The context, from the author: The moral case for Medicare for All is well established ... Bernie Sanders, for instance, argues that health care is a human right. But in making a case for Medicare for All, (this protaganist) has identified another effective argument: that many businesses will find Medicare for All more affordable than the private marketplace jungle.

The excerpt: Medicare for All’s price tag will depend entirely on the details of the plan, though taxes will almost certainly go up. But even if businesses do have to pay more in taxes, they will at least no longer have to foot the bill for their employees’ rising premiums; they may even save money in the long run, in part because the government would have unprecedented leverage to negotiate lower rates for providers. A few big businesses have been won over to this argument.

From “Trump Unleashed: The Trump Presidency Enters Its Most Dangerous Phase,” by David Corn in Mother Jones.

The context, from the author: Trump is rigging the justice system, trashing norms that have been in place for decades, and attacking the notion that the rule of law is essential for democratic governance.

The excerpt: These are difficult times. Disinformation is a threat to the fabric of American democracy. Trust in government is low. One party has traded checks and balances for tax cuts and judges. For some, the right to vote is under siege. Trump and his enablers have wrought a slow-burn crisis of democracy. They have perverted the basic foundation taught in every high school civics course: this is a government of laws, not of men and women. (Are there still civics courses?) For Trump, this is a government of Trump, for Trump, and by Trump. And his GOP handmaids and tens of millions of Americans are just fine with it.


From “No, Rush Limbaugh’s Comments About Buttigieg Are Not Homophobic,” by David Marcus in The Federalist.

The context, from the author: Questioning how Pete Buttigieg’s gay marriage will play with American voters is absolutely fair game for political commentators.

The excerpt: As with Obama being the first black nominee, if Buttigieg becomes the first openly gay nominee, that will come with advantages as well as disadvantages. For many voters it will be viewed as an historic and fantastic step forward for the country, for others, like the woman in Iowa who wanted her vote back when she found out he was in a gay marriage, it could do harm. And this was the point that Rush Limbaugh was making in his very Rush Limbaugh way. Sure, in a Democratic debate smooching his husband on stage might play very well with a lot of voters. But in a general election debate, it might not. But anyone who thinks Buttigieg’s team, should he get there, won’t be weighing the pros and cons of a post debate kiss is more naïve than Kay Adams-Corleone in the Godfather. Of course they will, and likely in terms not dissimilar from Limbaugh’s.

From “Black Student: ‘Segregation Now!’” by Rod Dreher in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: Racism is a virtue when it is expressed or deployed against white people. Dr. Martin Luther King’s universalist ethic is sooo 20th century.

The excerpt: As we all know, if a white student stood and ordered non-white students to vacate a space because their non-whiteness made it uncomfortable for white people, the entire campus would have had a gran mal seizure (and if it were Yale, the students and allied faculty would have shaken down the university for $50 million, as happened in 2015 over the Halloween costume debacle). But this (incident at the University of Virginia’s new Multicultural Student Center ,where a woman said, “Frankly there is just too many white people in here, and this is a space for people of color”) will pass without notice.

From “Anti-Capitalism: Trendy But Wrong,” by Alexander Hammond, writing for the Foundation for Economic Education.

The context, from the author: It is fundamentally trendy to be socialist, and to decry the alleged ills of capitalism. But does this persistent condemnation of capitalism hold up to scrutiny?

The excerpt: People living in the most capitalist countries live on average 14 years longer, have an infant mortality rate six times lower, enjoy greater political and civil liberties, gender equality, and to the extent you can measure such things, greater happiness too — when compared to the least capitalist economies.