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 “McConnell Explains How He’ll Steal Another Supreme Court Pick From Another Democratic President,” by John Nichols in The Nation.
The context, from the author: The Republican signals that if his party retakes the Senate, he’ll block President Joe Biden’s high court nominees in 2024 — and very probably in 2023.
The excerpt: (U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell is famously hypocritical when it comes to judicial politics — even if an on-bended-knee media frequently allows the senator to claim otherwise. In 2016, McConnell claimed that blocking the (Merrick) Garland nomination was “about a principle, not a person.” That was a bald-faced lie.
The context, from the author: America bet big on shale fuels. Now towns like Arlington, Texas, are stuck with the consequences.
The excerpt: Twenty years of fracking in the United States has delivered not only energy independence, but also an expanding export industry in oil, natural gas and liquified natural gas. America’s drilling boom, led by Texas, has also brought heavy industry into many rural and urban communities. Millions of people now live in the shadow of oil and gas wells, unwitting participants in a massive experiment with their health. That drilling poses substantial risks to the climate as well, because methane, the main component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas.
From “The Political Establishment Doesn’t Want You to Know the Economy Is Rigged,” by Brankdo Marcetic in Jacobin.
The context, from the author: ProPublica’s bombshell story about the financial malfeasance of the richest Americans has stirred bipartisan outrage in Washington. Unfortunately, it’s mainly outraged against the whistleblower who exposed the story.
The excerpt: Unless you’ve spent the past week on Jeff Bezos’ space capsule, you’ve probably at least heard about ProPublica’s bombshell tax exposé. The report, based on a trove of anonymously leaked tax records, shows the scandalously low tax rate America’s ultrarich pay, entirely legally, to the federal government when their declared income is put next to their actual wealth. The report and its follow-ups have already shaken the political world. Figures ranging from reliable names like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to banker-senator Pat Toomey and former hedgefund enthusiast Jim Cramer have reacted with outrage, breathing new life into calls to tax extreme wealth, calls that were largely sidelined with the end of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. It’s unclear whether this will translate into anything concrete.
FROM THE RIGHT
The context, from the authors: Most teachers, principals and district leaders have run for cover amid a culture-war approach to civics reform, avoiding genuine improvements and letting students receive a deficient preparation for informed and engaged citizenship.
The excerpt: The genius of American constitutional democracy has been to provide a way — partly through formal institutions, partly through cultural practices — for citizens who deeply disagree about the most serious questions of justice and the common good to settle their differences well enough to be able to live together, leaving one another room to be free and diverse but able to act for a common purpose when that is needed. We think that restoration of constitutional knowledge and also of traditional civic virtues is such a purpose and that we ought to have the courage to work together to achieve it. The time has passed for simply saying “no.”
From “The Future Of Motherhood And Childhood Under Biden,” by George Liebmann in the American Conservative.
The context, from the author: The value of structured preschool education has been severely questioned, and there are better alternatives.
The excerpt: One of the avowed objectives of the Biden proposal ... is to foster macroeconomic objectives by driving women into the work force whether they want to be there or not. This reflects the prejudices of feminists from the professional classes. A number of important studies from diverse periods suggest that this is not what most mothers of young children want. Stay-at-home mothers might share the restlessness and boredom articulated by Betty Friedan that fueled the feminist movement. Those without all-consuming professional jobs, however, prefer a regime that allows them to perform part-time, half-day work.
The context, from the author: Let us have no foolishness about this — those who peddle “white fragility” and “overcoming whiteness” are only selling hate and resentment. It is a recipe for civil war and dissolution.
The excerpt: Until those who inhabit the body politic “draw breath together” and see each other as something other than foes stuck together in a condition of mortal combat and constant resentment, the possibility of a healthy political order remains unlikely. Here the only solution to secure the long-term survival of the republic is for the aggrieved parties to forgive those they believe harmed them and accept each other. Let us have no foolishness that such can happen if the actual harm is ongoing, but if for the most part and for the wider part of the majority community, no harm or infliction of humiliation is sought, then the formerly harmed and aggrieved can find reason to forgive.