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 “Joe Biden Needs to Get Serious About Voting Rights,” by Liza Featherstone in Jacobin.
The context, from the author: As a matter of both principle and self-interest, Joe Biden should pull out the stops to abolish the filibuster and safeguard the right to vote, which is now under threat from GOP governments in dozens of states. So far, he seems uninterested.
The excerpt: Right-wing activists ... think they can stay in power over the long term by making it harder for working-class Americans, especially Black Americans, to vote. Whether or not they’re right, the Left can’t afford to wait and find out: it needs to fight back, including by pressuring the president. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, when men without property, Black men, and women got the vote, each of these victories signaled a societal rejection of cruel exclusions and hierarchies, an expanded idea of who counted as a full human, an enlarged definition of the body politic. Republicans would like to arrest any further advances of this kind and rewind to a simpler and less civilized time.
From “We’re Spending Peanuts on a Problem More Deadly Than Malaria,” by Damian Carrington in Mother Jones.
The context, from the author: Governments around the world gave 20 percent more in overseas aid funding to fossil fuel projects in 2019 and 2020 than to programs to cut the air pollution they cause.
The excerpt: Dirty air is the world’s biggest environmental killer, responsible for at least four million early deaths a year. But just 1 percent of global development aid is used to tackle this crisis, according to an analysis from the Clean Air Fund (CAF). Air pollution kills more people than HIV/Aids, malaria, and tuberculosis combined, but such health issues receive vastly more funding, the report found.
The context, from the author: This summer’s weather has forced a kind of continuous awareness of climate change.
The excerpt: I’ve been a climate-change reporter for nearly half a decade, so I can remember all the previous news cycles — the storms, the wildfires, the heat waves — in which we journalists insisted that climate change had arrived. The truth is that climate change has been arriving for 30 years, and it will keep intensifying until we do something about it. Yet something does seem different about this Northern Hemisphere summer, like the ever-worsening weather has forced a kind of continual climate awareness.
The context, from the author: Australia’s COVID response is a warning for how easily core freedoms can erode away in even a well-established democracy.
The excerpt: With the Delta surge, more than half of Australians are locked down, often in response to a tiny number of cases. Australian authorities don’t fool around. State premiers have vast powers, and use them. In Melbourne, located in the state of Victoria, a curfew is in place, and limits apply to people leaving their homes. There are hefty fines for noncompliance. The spirit of the lockdowns was perfectly captured a few months ago by the chief health officer of the state of New South Wales who warned, “Whilst it is in human nature to engage in conversation with others, to be friendly, unfortunately this is not the time to do that.” Ah yes, the public-health threat of over-chattiness.
From “Undeveloping America,” by Emmet Penney in the American Conservative.
The context, from the author: We might have the sort of vision that lets us adequately prepare for hurricanes and accurately predict the consequences of policies, but we don’t.
The excerpt: With a political paradigm that has evaporated basic civic duties in favor of nudging, metrics, and short-termism we’ve become an undeveloping country. ... We fail to take the long view and so we fail to consider posterity. However, to engage in discerning what’s best in the long view, to develop again, requires us to put forth a vision of the social good.
From “The Supreme Court Should Let States Protect Unborn Special-Needs Children Like Mine,” by Mary Vought in The Federalist.
The context, from the author: As we give thanks for the treasures our daughter has brought into our lives, we also hope the Supreme Court will allow states to protect unborn cystic fibrosis sufferers like her.
The excerpt: If the court overturns Roe and Casey, it could allow lawmakers in each state, rather than unelected judges, to determine the boundaries and parameters of abortion regulations for their citizens. It could return democratic accountability to where it belongs — with the people, through their representatives — and reinforce the principles of federalism, by allowing each state to find solutions that work best for its people. I believe states should have the power to enact laws that protect unborn cystic fibrosis patients like my daughter. I hope the Supreme Court will soon restore that power to them.