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Jim Verhulst - Deputy Editor of Editorials
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.
 
Former President Donald Trump.
Former President Donald Trump. [ BRANDON BELL | Getty Images North America ]
Published Sept. 3, 2022

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 “Trump’s Second Term Would Look Like This,” by Jonathan Rauch in The Atlantic.

The context, from the author: The former president and his allies have explained their plans quite clearly.

The excerpt: Ever since the U.S. Senate failed to convict Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection and disqualify him from running for president again, a lot of people, myself included, have been warning that a second Trump term could bring about the extinction of American democracy. Essential features of the system, including the rule of law, honest vote tallies, and orderly succession, would be at risk. Today, however, we can do more than just speculate about how a second Trump term would unfold, because the MAGA movement has been telegraphing its plans in some detail.

From “Justice Alito’s Crusade Against a Secular America Isn’t Over,” by Margaret Talbot in The New Yorker.

The context, from the author: Justice Samuel Alito’s had win after win — including overturning Roe v. Wade — yet seems more and more aggrieved. What drives his anger?

The excerpt: In the end, (Justice Samuel) Alito may be angry for the same reasons that many conservatives of his demographic are angry — because they find their values increasingly contested; because they feel less culturally authoritative than they once were; because they want to exclude whom they want to exclude, and resent it when others push back. Neil Siegel told me he thought Alito was frustrated because he knows, at some level, that he is fundamentally “dissenting from American culture and where it is ineluctably heading — a society that is increasingly diverse and secular.” As Siegel put it, “The Supreme Court doesn’t really have the power to change that.” Maybe not. But Alito is clearly trying.

From “Yes, Canceling Student Loan Debt Is Justified. Canceling Medical Debt Would Be, Too,” by Ben Burgis in Jacobin.

The context, from the author: Student loan debt shouldn’t exist. Neither should medical debt. The Biden administration’s cancellation of some student loan debt is justified — and canceling medical debt would be, too.

The excerpt: Even if you hold the (frankly contemptible) belief that a college education is a frivolous luxury that is irresponsible for lower-income people to pursue, do you really think the same is true of, for example, having a medical emergency when the nearest hospital to you is “out of network” for your insurance? ... No society that treated its citizens with a modicum of human dignity would shake them down for a payment at the point of service for medical care rather than paying for it collectively and providing it as a right. Medical debt, like student debt, shouldn’t exist.

FROM THE RIGHT

From “Death Without Dignity,” by John Hirschauer in The American Conservative.

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The context, from the author: Euthanasia coerces the disabled and terminally ill to die to minimize the financial and emotional burdens to their families.

The excerpt: In the final analysis, our bodies are not our own. What separates men from animals is the soul, and our ability to process and endure suffering as sentient creatures. There is no question that some people experience tremendous physical and emotional suffering at the end of their lives. There is no question that many lose their sense of dignity. But that is not an argument for legalizing euthanasia, and in fact strengthens the force of the argument against it. If the measure of a society is what it does for its weakest members, what can be said of a country that encourages the terminally ill to kill themselves?

From “Who Are You Calling A Fascist, Mr. President?” by David Harsanyi in The Federalist.

The context, from the author: These days, the word “democracy,” like “fascism,” has lost all meaning. According to Democrats, asking someone to show ID before voting is an attack on “democracy,” but so is the Supreme Court’s handing back power to voters on the abortion issue.

The excerpt: The most vociferous defenders of “democracy” are also the ones who sound suspiciously like they want a one-party state. Modern Democrats have stopped debating policy or accepting the legitimacy of anyone who stands in their way. They will pass massive, generational reforms using parliamentary tricks, without any input from the minority. And they don’t merely champion their work as beneficial, they claim these bills are needed for the survival of “democracy” and “civilization” — nay, the survival of the planet. Anyone who opposes saving Mother Earth is surely a fascist. There is nothing to debate.

From “Don’t Reward Cowardice with Your Vote,” by Kevin D. Williamson in The National Review.

The context, from the author: I have three laws, so far. My third law is, candidates who aren’t with us on abortion really aren’t with us at all. The Romney Addendum: Be very, very suspicious of anybody who changes his mind about abortion — in either direction — after the age of 40 or so.

The excerpt: (Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake) Masters is pretty clearly a guy who has never given any serious thought to the issue of abortion. ... He knows — or thinks he knows, or thought he knew until the issue blew up in his face — that the current Republican base is not very interested in nuance, moderation, or compromise: The people who decide who gets the nominations in the GOP today are maximalists who think that Fox News and social media are the real world, that getting retweets and getting votes are more or less the same thing. And so Masters embraced the maximalist position on abortion, declaring himself 100 percent pro-life, advocated a federal fetal-personhood law, a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion, etc. ... (But) swing voters in Arizona started to make noises indicating that Masters’s maximalism was not what they wanted. And so Masters scrubbed his website.