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.
Neo-Nazis, alt-Right and white supremacists march the night before the "Unite the Right" rally, on Aug. 11, 2017, through the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.
Neo-Nazis, alt-Right and white supremacists march the night before the "Unite the Right" rally, on Aug. 11, 2017, through the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. [ MICHAEL NIGRO/PACIFIC PRESS | TNS ]
Published Dec. 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 “Trump Brought Nazis Into the GOP. DeSantis Won’t Expel Them,” by Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine’s Intelligencer at

The context, from the author: White nationalism is not just a Trump problem.

The excerpt: The issue is that (former President Donald) Trump has expanded the Republican coalition to the right, activating and encompassing undisguised white supremacists, who, through their entry into the two-party system, have gained newfound influence. This is a dangerous and historically significant change to the American political scene. And hardly anybody in the GOP — certainly not Ron DeSantis — intends to reverse it.

From “Congress Won’t Be Able to Ban Assault Weapons Anytime Soon. Sen. Chris Murphy Has Another Idea,” by Abby Vesoulis in Mother Jones at

The context, from the author: Sen. Chris Murphy proposes refusing to fund counties that aren’t following current gun control laws.

The excerpt: It will be even harder to pass any new gun control laws next year because Republicans will then control the House. Murphy did suggest one alternative: cutting law enforcement funding in counties that aren’t implementing existing state and federal gun control laws. Such areas are especially prevalent in states like Texas and Nebraska, which have designated themselves as “sanctuary states” for gun rights. “They have decided that they are going to essentially refuse to implement laws that are on the books. That is a growing problem in this country,” Murphy said. “And I think we’re gonna have to have a conversation about that in the U.S. Senate. Do we want to continue to supply funding to law enforcement in counties that refuse to implement state and federal gun laws?”

From “The Response to Brittney Griner’s Capture Is an Indictment of the Right and the ‘Left,’ ” by Dave Zirin in The Nation at

The context, from the author: I am deeply disturbed by the response to my recent column about what we know about the abhorrent prison conditions that Brittney Griner is enduring in a labor camp in Mordovia, Russia. ... Part of the problem is my own naivete in thinking that the idea of an Olympian in a penal colony for nine years just might create unity across the political spectrum.

The excerpt: There is no politics more basic than solidarity with the imprisoned. There is no politics more obvious than solidarity with someone in conditions of 16-hour workdays, beatings and torture, and — reflecting the Russian state — an environment notoriously racist and homophobic. If we can’t get this right, God help us.


From “An Open Letter to Those Who Think I’ve Lost My Christian Faith,” by David French in The Dispatch at

The context, from the author: Ever since I wrote in support of the Senate version of the Respect for Marriage Act, I’ve been subject to an absolute torrent of online criticism, mainly from fellow Christians.

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The excerpt: I’m going to address directly, from the ground up, why the debate is so confused and why the distinctions between Christian marriage (what I’ll call “covenant marriage”) and civil marriage matter so very much. ... The relationship between covenant marriage and civil marriage can be imagined as a Venn diagram. Not all civil marriages are covenant marriages, and while all covenant marriages can be civil marriages, a covenant marriage does not depend on state recognition for its religious validity. If I exchange vows with my wife, I’m married in the eyes of God even if the state never receives my marriage license.

From “Listen to Your Elders, Not the Experts,” by Casey Chalk in The American Conservative at

The context, from the author: You don’t need a peer-reviewed study to know it’s a bad idea to give a 5-year-old an iPhone.

The excerpt: It is not age-old wisdom, but credentialed expertise that engenders our trust nowadays. We take our cue not from grandpa and grandma and their advice of “a little bourbon on the gums,” but from experts in psychology and sociology penning peer-reviewed studies that tell us obvious, commonsense verities. If grumpy grandad tells the rambunctious little ones to get their butts outside before he smacks one of them, we roll our eyes. But if an articulate woman in a lab coat or with “Ph.D.” after her name tells you that your child’s frontal lobe grows faster if he gets at least 1.5 hours of unsupervised time per day, thus increasing his chances of acquiring a scholarship to an academic institution by 15 percent … well!

From “The Extreme Recklessness of Biden 2.0,” by Rich Lowry in The National Review at

The context, from the author: Joe Biden 2024 is a bad idea whose time has come.

The excerpt: Aging is a progressive condition. Biden isn’t getting any younger or more capable. The good news is that, today, right now, he is as fit as he’ll ever be to perform his duties; the bad news is that there are a lot of days between now and 2024 when he’ll be less fit, whether by a tiny increment or by a lot. In short, any Democrat who believes that Biden is guaranteed to make it through a 2024 campaign without incident is fooling him- or herself. There already have been numerous disturbing episodes, and they will continue to pile up. And voters have noticed.