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.
President Donald Trump greets the crowd on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C..
President Donald Trump greets the crowd on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.. [ TASOS KATOPODIS | Getty Images North America ]
Published Oct. 29, 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 “Is Gen X a Bunch of Trumpers? Maybe That’s the Wrong Question,” by Elie Mystal in The Nation at

The context, from the author: Amid the hoopla over polls suggesting the slacker generation is tilting right, it’s worth pausing to ask who we mean by “Gen X.”

The excerpt: For generational analysis to mean anything, we have to accept the idea that an entire age group of people has experienced broadly similar influences — cultural, political, economic — and that those influences can be used to explain or add context to their voting patterns. But those broad influences simply aren’t the same for people who may be in a similar age group but identify as a different race. People remember the Reagan era differently, for instance, if they grew up in a white family that benefited from the tax breaks and racism Reagan peddled than if they grew up in a Black family whose community was used as a boogeyman to spook the white folks. Or maybe some white Gen X kids had to learn about the effects of the 1994 crime bill in college, while many Black Gen X kids lived its repercussions as it tore apart our communities in real time.

From “Why Does Every Tech Company Want to ‘Democratize’ Something?” by Lora Kelley in Mother Jones at

The context, from the author: A concept rooted in politics and the public sphere has been squeezed into a new container — that of the individual consumer.

The excerpt: Democracy has a positive social valence. An affiliation with the idea, no matter how oblique, is flattering. It suggests that a good or service — whether it’s a device that runs tests on a few drops of blood or a one-click payment processor — is for the people. But despite lofty mission statements, companies have in the end hewed closely to traditional pathways for their purpose: making a profit.

From “The Constitution Can Be a Weapon in the Battle Against Oligarchy,” by Matthew Dimick in Jacobin at

The context, from the author: From the U.S.’s beginnings, progressive forces have tried to use the Constitution to expand democracy and resist rule by the rich. But overcoming oligarchical threats to freedom and democracy requires understanding the structural basis of capitalist domination.

The excerpt: Suppose a new social movement succeeds in restraining oligarchy, expanding the middle class and doing so in an inclusive way. This will undoubtedly make a monumental difference for many people. But what happens when, after another three decades go by, all of these “good things” are attributed not to the struggles of the previous generation but to the normal and proper workings of capitalism? What happens when the next big crisis arrives and, rather than attributing it to capitalism, it is blamed on labor unions, minimum wages, generous social benefits, and an intrusive administrative state?


From “Old Man Biden,” by Matthew Continetti in Commentary at

The context, from the author: Biden will turn 80 years old on Nov. 20. He is the oldest president in American history.

The excerpt: The second- and third-oldest, Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan, became president at ages 70 and 69, respectively. The similarities end there. Trump, to put it gently, does not act his age. And Reagan disarmed his critics with a combination of personal charm and self-deprecatory humor. Biden, by contrast, is prickly and defensive. In his occasional pratfalls and hectoring rhetoric, Biden more closely resembles Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. He shuffles his feet. On several occasions he has tripped on the stairs to Air Force One. In June he fell from his bicycle. From time to time, at the end of a photo op or press availability, he looks lost.

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From “Unpatriotic Conservatives 2022,” by Rod Dreher in The American Conservative at

The context, from the author: Neocons true to form, are denouncing anyone who opposes U.S. goals in Ukraine, and who likes Hungary, as fascist or fascist-adjacent.

The excerpt: Post-liberal people, wherever they fall on the spectrum, understand that the liberal order is teetering, and that the kind of people who consider everyone to the right of David Frum a “deplorable,” are in control of the system, and are using it to screw the rest of us. Calling us “fascists,” “unpatriotic conservatives” and what have you, doesn’t change this. Note well that these are the very same people who got us into the disastrous long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who never admitted wrongdoing, even error in judgment.

From “State Department Skips ‘International Pronouns Day’ This Year,” by Jimmy Quinn in The National Review at

The context, from the author: This year’s international pronouns day came and went on Wednesday without any apparent mention by the State Department. There was no tweet. This may be because the department’s 2021 tweet was roundly mocked online.

The excerpt: That (last year’s tweet) was posted soon after the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan completed was also a point of criticism. Despite not marking the pronouns day this year, the department continues its work to promote “diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility,” or DEIA. Foggy Bottom is currently undertaking a high-priority, top-down reform process to bring itself in line with the White House’s broader push to reshape the federal bureaucracy to reflect these principles.