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.
A person enters the Israel Baptist Church in Kirkwood, Georgia, during election day on Tuesday.
A person enters the Israel Baptist Church in Kirkwood, Georgia, during election day on Tuesday. [ MIGUEL MARTINEZ | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ]
Published Dec. 10, 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 “To Win Progressive Policies, Tell Voters Exactly How They Will Benefit,” by Sam Zacher in Jacobin.

The context, from the author: Midterm ballot initiative votes in Colorado and Massachusetts suggest that taxing the rich and increasing public spending is more popular with voters when it’s clear exactly how these measures will improve people’s lives.

The excerpt: The broader lesson is familiar to organizers and socialists: prioritizing how people’s lives will actually improve — instead of technocratic policy vagaries — is smart and necessary to winning policies that expand freedom and equality for all people. This lesson should also be the primary focus of policy entrepreneurs across the country working on ballot campaigns. ... This is likely one reason why the minimum wage has proven so popular, even winning majority support in states where Republicans usually win statewide elections: because the obvious, popular policy impact is baked into the policy design.

From “How the Trucking Industry Became the Dystopian Frontier of Workplace Surveillance,” by Ruqaiyah Zarook in Mother Jones.

The context, from the author: A new book describes how intrusive monitoring technologies have upended truckers’ way of life — and what that means about the expansion of workplace surveillance for all of us.

The excerpt: Federal law now requires most workers to purchase and install digital trackers that record information about their movements and behavior, enabling extra monitoring by their employers and third-party companies. These surveillance technologies are designed to solve the persistent issue of driver fatigue by restricting the number of hours truckers spend on the road, but as (the book’s author) writes, they’ve also eroded the culture of independence and freedom that truckers value — and paradoxically, they’ve made the roads less safe.

From “Barack Obama’s Politics 101: Ridiculing Republicans Works,” by John Nichols in The Nation.

The context, from the author: The former president is still the ablest campaigner the Democrats have, as his takedown of Herschel Walker’s vampire-vs.-werewolf rumination proved.

The excerpt: Obama slipped the blade in, with barely contained glee. “Since the last time I was here, Mr. Walker has been talking about issues that are of great importance to the people of Georgia. Like whether it’s better to be a vampire or a werewolf,” said Obama, over roars of laughter. “This is a debate that I must confess I once had myself … when I was 7. Then I grew up.” It was a measure of the surreal twist Walker has put on the Georgia Senate race that Obama was not engaging in hyperbole. ... “In case you’re wondering, by the way, Mr. Walker decided that he wanted to be a werewolf, which is great,” Obama said. “As far as I’m concerned, he can be anything he wants to be … except for a United States senator.”


From “Elon Musk and Tucker Carlson Don’t Understand the First Amendment,” by the conservative writer David French in The Atlantic.

The context, from the author: The First Amendment regulates government conduct. It does not regulate private actors.

The excerpt: The First Amendment protects Twitter, the Biden campaign team and the Democratic National Committee. The “Twitter Files” released so far do not describe a violation of the First Amendment. Instead, they detail the exercise of First Amendment rights by independent, private actors. One can certainly agree or disagree with the way in which they exercised those rights. Twitter’s decision to delete pornographic pictures of Hunter Biden was entirely justified and appropriate. Its actions to suppress the New York Post story about Hunter’s laptop were far less defensible. But they were Twitter’s decisions to make, and no amount of misguided rhetoric can transform a Twitter story into a government scandal.

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From “Ron DeSantis Won’t Talk to the MSM and It’s Driving Them Insane,” by Teri Christoph in RedState.

The context, from the author: Ron DeSantis truly is the gold standard for Republicans: a natural-born fighter, he picks his battles carefully, plays to win and never, ever apologizes. Part of his winning strategy also includes freezing out the establishment media, and, boy, they are really rankled about that.

The excerpt: DeSantis will talk to independent media outlets like the Florida Standard and Florida’s Voice, two right-leaning sites covering news and politics in Florida. This is bad, apparently, because the outlets are funded by conservatives. Gasp! Get the smelling salts! Bring in the fainting couch! The leftist-funded media is distraught to discover that the right also funds media ventures.

From “Aren’t You All Tired of This Crap?” by Charles C.W. Cooke in The National Review.

The context, from the author: Former President Donald Trump claims that “The Fake News is actually trying to convince the American People that I said I wanted to ‘terminate’ the Constitution. This is simply more DISINFORMATION & LIES.” Trump’s lying, of course. He said what he said, and now he’s trying to back out of it. The more interesting question is why anyone is helping him do it. Week in, week out, this is what the guy does.

The excerpt: Why does this happen? Beats me. At this stage, literally nothing is being achieved by it — except, of course, to drive independents and mainstream Republicans from the coalition. No laws are changed. No judges are appointed. No arguments are won. No thorny topics are broached. America doesn’t improve. Conservatism doesn’t improve. The GOP doesn’t improve. Everything just gets dumber and more cultish.