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 “The Democrats Remembered How Politics Works Again,” by Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine’s Intelligencer.
The context, from the author: Candidates and parties seen as safe and moderate have an advantage — one that may not always override other factors but which matters quite a bit.
The excerpt: Of course coming across as normal and boring isn’t going to help the president if he’s saddled with a truly cratering economy or some other catastrophe. But there is a deeper lesson here in how politics works. The middle may be diminishing, but it still holds the balance of power. After years of talking themselves into disbelieving it, Democrats are reacquainting themselves with political reality.
From “Europe’s Cities Are Getting More Crowded — and That’s Good,” by Matt Reynolds in Mother Jones.
The context, from the author: Suburban sprawl has been an environmental disaster.
The excerpt: Keeping cities denser isn’t just about making sure they don’t encroach on natural land. Only about 1 percent of global land is actually urbanized. The major benefit of cities is that they are extremely efficient and low-impact places to live.
From “The World Cup Should Make Us Rethink Our Understanding of Human Rights,” by Neil Vallelly in Jacobin.
The context, from the author: Media coverage of the World Cup has rightly highlighted the atrocious working conditions of migrant workers. But we need to broaden our definition of human rights abuses to include the global economic system that forces them to go to Qatar in the first place.
The excerpt: Governments thus increasingly came to use the concept of human rights to expand existing economic and social inequalities, on the basis that each individual is deemed equal when they enter the market. They deemed the question of how they got there and what happens in the aftermath to lie beyond the reach of human rights. This history matters because when human rights are invoked today, including in the context of the Qatar World Cup, it is first and foremost civil and political rights that are deemed to have been violated, such as the right to express one’s sexuality in public without fear of punishment. While these rights are of course essential, the process by which human rights melded with neoliberalism shows us that civil and political rights can exist alongside other forms of exploitation and deprivation if economic and social human rights are not deemed essential to a functioning society.
FROM THE RIGHT
From “Strong-State Federalism Is The Best Path Forward Right Now For The GOP (And The Country),” by Elle Purnell in The Federalist.
The context, from the author: Arguably, Ron DeSantis has done more good for conservatives as a governor than national Republican leaders have in the past two years.
The excerpt: Voters also appear to place more hope and enthusiasm in state-level leaders than in Washington. ... Credit a myriad of factors for DeSantis’ blowout win in Florida earlier this month, but he’s certainly become a model figure for strong state leadership that reminds the federal government: Checks and balances work between states and Washington too.
Spend your days with Hayes
Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
The context, from the author: Hey, you. Yes, you. I gather you’ve started hinting that you might run for president in 2024. Here’s an alternative idea: Don’t. Do something else instead. Travel. Learn to cook. Serve on a board. Start a podcast. Build a boat. Just stay the hell out of the field. You know who you are. ... And whatever you think is going to happen to you over the next couple of years, you’re wrong.
The excerpt: I can remember 2016, when 17 Republicans ran for the nomination and helped Trump win it with around 35 percent of the primary vote. Do you recall when Scott Walker saw what was happening, announced that he was dropping out, and said that he hoped others would follow him? And do you recall when nobody did? I do. Can that happen again? Sure, it can. And you’re a perfect example of why. Nobody — nobody — is clamoring for you to run for president. The dangers of your doing so are abundantly obvious. And yet, inexplicably, you’re still thinking of running.
The context, from the author: America may eschew the cruel details of Soviet elections, but we negate voters’ agency just the same as the U.S.S.R.
The excerpt: (My then-teenage sister) was incensed that, although it was not a real election — in the U.S.S.R., there was just one Communist candidate for every position on the ballot — the authorities still felt the need to round up everyone to play pretend. She kept bringing up that point for the rest of her life, long after the Soviet Union became extinct. That family story no longer feels outlandish; in all but minutia, it has ceased to be a warning about socialism.