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Jim Verhulst - Editorial Writer
Here’s what to read from the left and the right | Column
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer jokes about arriving on time with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during a news conference on families helped by the Child Tax Credit at the U.S. Capitol this summer.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer jokes about arriving on time with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during a news conference on families helped by the Child Tax Credit at the U.S. Capitol this summer. [ WIN MCNAMEE | Getty Images North America ]
Published Oct. 23

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 “They Gave Black Mothers in Mississippi $1,000 a Month. It Changed Their Lives,” by Bryce Covert in The New Republic.

The context, from the author: A basic income experiment in Mississippi should teach national Democrats a lesson as they weigh a permanent Child Tax Credit.

The excerpt: (The program) has had a huge impact. Among last year’s recipients, the ability to pay bills on time increased from fewer than a third to 83 percent. Less than two-thirds of them had enough money for food before the payments; 81 percent did after. There was a similar increase in the share who were able to regularly buy their children new clothes and shoes. More of them had cars and were able to afford gas. Nearly 90 percent had money saved for emergencies by the end of the program. Giving parents cash, not just targeted benefits like food stamps or rent vouchers, matters. There are myriad things parents need that can only be bought with cash, from diapers to clothes to bus fare to sports fees. Many families have nothing saved to see them through crises such as a car breaking down or a health emergency.

From “Scrapping the Color Code,” by Jim Sleeper in Commonweal.

The context, from the author: The new U.S. Census strongly suggests that there’s no longer a civic-cultural norm in “whiteness” but also that no official racial color-coding can tell us who “we” are.

The excerpt: I worried that many self-avowedly “anti-racist” liberals and progressives were clinging so tightly to what we now call “multiculturalist” and “woke” protocols that they’d stopped envisioning a post-racial, civic-republican culture that would be thick and rich enough for anyone to thrive in, where “people of color” would be recognized by all as bearers of virtues and rights that aren’t “of color” at all. Diversity would be celebrated as a consequence of American, civic-republican fairness, not as its bureaucratic precondition.

From “Thanks, Travis Tritt, for Accidentally Saving Lives With Your Dumb COVID Policy,” by Joseph Hudak in Rolling Stone.

The context, from the author: Country singer cancels concerts requiring vaccination, masks, and even testing.

The excerpt: According to his statement, (Travis) Tritt is decidedly anti-mandate when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed 700,000 U.S. lives, and stands in solidarity with those who oppose mandated measures that have been proven to keep people safe.

FROM THE RIGHT

From “We Are Not Pencils,” by Declan Leary in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: We are witnessing firsthand the dangers of reliance on complex, uncontrolled, globalized supply chains.

The excerpt: You don’t have to go live in a cabin in the forests of Montana. But you can take small steps to wean yourself off of fragile global supply chains and onto antifragile ones. Grow as much food as you can, and learn as many back-pocket skills as you can manage. Join co-ops for meat and vegetables with local gardeners and farmers. Shop at farmers markets and with local craftsmen. If you’re in a position to do so, maybe even encourage the production of complex goods at sustainable levels — e.g., with regulations and incentives to build and buy in-country.

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From “Biden in Wonderland,” by Charles C. W. Cooke in the National Review.

The context, from the author: No matter how strenuously it insists that down is up and up is down, the White House can’t pretend away the spiraling crises before our eyes.

The excerpt: Down the rabbit hole, though, everything is still peachy. Indeed, insofar as America has any problems to speak of, they’re held to be either non-existent, inconsequential, or somehow your fault. You may think you watched in horror a few months ago as a generational debacle unfolded in Kabul, but what you actually saw was “the largest U.S. airlift in history.” Hurrah! You may believe that the southern border has been in a perpetual state of crisis from the moment President Biden took office, but this is merely the sort of quotidian “circumstance” that could have happened under any president and is only happening now due to the inexplicable vagaries of climate change. How unfair!

From “Piety, Patriotism, and Paranoia,” by Thomas Lecaque and J.L. Tomlin in The Bulwark.

The context, from the authors: What today’s far right looks for in the legacy of the American Revolution.

The excerpt: As much as we might like to think that these invocations of Revolutionary identity are a misappropriation, the truth is there is plenty of precedent in early American history for the disturbing ideas, intentions, and modes of thought seen on the far right today. Take QAnon, for example. Conspiratorial notions of hidden, malevolent oppositional forces were a common theme of early American thought, often constituting an overt component of political and social thought. Early Americans frequently resorted to conspiracy theories to explain much of their rapidly changing world.