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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.
Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.
Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. [ JOSE LUIS MAGANA | AP ]
Published Dec. 17, 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 “The Threat to Democracy Is Still in Congress,” by David A. Graham in The Atlantic at tinyurl.com/ydrtrhat.

The context, from the author: One hundred forty-seven Republicans voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Almost all of them are still in office.

The excerpt: The crisis of winter 2020–21 was not simply the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and that was not an isolated event but rather the culmination of a continuous process involving the White House, members of Congress, rogue officials at (the Department of Justice), outside lawyers, and activists. And it’s arguably not finished. I argued in October that an attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, showed how Jan. 6 had never really ended. New evidence for that keeps surfacing. At a speech in New York (last) week, (Marjorie Taylor) Greene said of Jan. 6, “I want to tell you something. If Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won. Not to mention, we would’ve been armed.” When the comments touched off an uproar, as she surely knew they would, she claimed she was just being sarcastic. This is a flimsy excuse, and besides, sarcasm is a powerful rhetorical tool for conveying reality under cover of humor.

From “Democrats Keep Handing Working-Class Voters to Republicans,” by David Sirota in Jacobin at tinyurl.com/y4y8nc9u.

The Democratic Party has sold out and ignored workers over and over in recent years — so much so that despite Republicans’ steadfast commitment to the rich, they’ve also made significant inroads in winning over working-class voters.

The excerpt: As long as Democrats insist on almost never using their power to materially improve workers’ lives, Republicans will still have chances to misportray themselves as fight-for-the-little-guy populists. If Democrats are not delivering, those lies are likely to continue reaping the American right more working-class support, bringing the GOP’s fake populists ever closer to the real power they so desperately crave.

From “The Anti-Woke Right Is Losing Its Religion,” by Charlotte Kilpatrick in The New Republic at tinyurl.com/3uskc9bu.

The context, from the author: As conservatives increasingly turn to secular culture-war outrages to fire up their base, it would seem that God is no longer their co-pilot.

The excerpt: Remarkably, ever since Trump assumed office, the Republican Party has undergone a realignment that mirrors the former president’s own predispositions, in that it no longer strictly adheres to a religious worldview. When Trump announced his candidacy ... he stirred fear of racial displacement and the need to preserve an “American” identity. MAGA wasn’t fighting a crusade against the godless; it was fighting wokeness. Instead of a culture war rooted in Bible verses, this new revival of right-wing ideology is now grounded in a secular struggle that no longer requires Jesus to play a role in the fight against progressive values. One reason for this ideological shift is that Americans of both political parties are becoming less religious.

FROM THE RIGHT

From “We’re Slowly Killing The First Amendment,” by David Harsanyi in The Federalist at tinyurl.com/yt9ykrvx.

The context, from the author: We are now often a society of self-censors, which, as (George) Orwell noted, is as pernicious as any other variant. Sure, you can have your say, the leftist assures you. You just can’t have it on any platform or outlet with wide reach.

The excerpt: Throughout history, authoritarians have claimed that liberty must be subdued because of some perilous historical moment. That moment is now every time Democrats don’t get their way. If these people have no problem with the state and corporations that control the public square working together to dictate appropriate speech, how long is it before the idea of curbing “dangerous” “disinformation” through legislation is normalized?

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From “‘Equality’ Isn’t What It Used to Be,” by Nate Hochman in The National Review at tinyurl.com/5y9kvej5.

The context, from the author: Progressives now openly discriminate in the name of this fundamental American principle, but conservatives should be cautious too.

The excerpt: The question, really, is what equality of opportunity means. If it is simply “equal laws protecting equal rights,” as James Madison put it, then that should be unobjectionable to conservatives, at least in principle. But why not simply use the language employed by Madison and the other Framers — that of simple, basic, equal legal rights? In reality, equality of opportunity is a departure from the kind envisioned by the Founders. We should at least be honest about this, and about what it would take to truly implement this new interpretation. Equal opportunity implies some amount of equality of condition; and equality of condition requires significant intervention by the state.

From “ ‘Our Democracy,’ Not Our Constitution,” by Jeffrey H. Anderson in The Claremont Review of Books at tinyurl.com/ytbhawkw.

The context, from the author: After decades of generally limiting their attacks to the Electoral College and otherwise pretending to like the Constitution while seeking to reshape or evade it, progressives have recently expanded their attacks to include the Supreme Court and—more surprising and eye-opening — the U.S. Senate.

The excerpt: Progressives have two main objections to the Constitution: they don’t like its source—white, 18th-century, property-owning males, some of whom owned slaves — or its structure, which is designed to ensure a limited government that checks power and secures our unalienable rights. The Left tends to emphasize the former objection, inasmuch as it is a lot easier to try to discredit the Constitution by attacking the mores of 18th-century men, viewed more hazily than humbly through a 21st-century lens, than by attacking the document itself. Hence the ubiquity of the racism charge in the Left’s discourse.