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 “J.D. Vance, Ron DeSantis and the GOP’s Diverging Paths,” by Jay Caspian Kang in The New Yorker at tinyurl.com/3a9krhn9.
The context, from the author: The upcoming GOP presidential primary will likely pit rural white nationalism against “anti-woke” culture warfare.
The excerpt: More than anything, “anti-wokeness” has created a smoke screen of supposed cultural principles that allow the establishment to feel comfortable with a candidate who likely will protect business interests without inviting the potential chaos of a Trump presidency. (Gov. Ron) DeSantis is the candidate for people who would rather talk about drag shows that they’ll never attend than question whether Norfolk Southern should have to pay large settlements to every resident of East Palestine. Rather than see him as an ambitious authoritarian, we should see DeSantis as a bully who has decided to pick on educators and trans people to burnish his right-wing credentials, and to generate as much media attention as he can. What should concern DeSantis and his fellow-crusaders is that what (former President Donald) Trump and (Sen. J.D.) Vance are tapping into is much more real. The people of East Palestine are powerless against corporate interests, not because they’re “a little too white,” as Vance suggested, but because they are poor.
From “Tax the Rich, Because Inequality Is Bad for All of Us,” by John L. Hammond in Jacobin at tinyurl.com/2p9a6uhv.
The context, from the author: Economic inequality undermines democracy, hastens environmental destruction, fosters anxiety and erodes social trust. We can start to solve these problems by taxing the rich.
The excerpt: Taxing the rich would allow us to publicly fund these desperately needed goods and services. But it has another benefit: It would chip away at the corrosive effects of inequality in our lives. Such inequality has massive impacts across our society, including in some surprising areas you might assume have little to do with the rising concentration of wealth.
From “Why Republicans Are Blaming the Bank Collapse on Wokeness,” by David A. Graham in The Atlantic at tinyurl.com/mrtbmest.
The context, from the author: The only flaw is that the line of attack (on wokeness) makes no sense. In reality, Silicon Valley Bank failed because it made some bad business bets. It invested deposits in long-term assets such as Treasury bonds. As the Federal Reserve raised interest rates, those investments lost value while simultaneously squeezing many of the depositors. The result was a bank run, complete with lines outside branches.
The excerpt: The reason that SVB would want to advertise its programs on DEI, ESG and other matters is not because it was in thrall to woke ideology. It’s because that was a good business decision. Just look at the bank’s name: It caters to startups in a very liberal, highly diverse marketplace. Positioning itself as a socially conservative bank would have been a truly unwise business decision.
FROM THE RIGHT
The context, from the author: The statement Gov. Ron DeSantis provided Fox News host Tucker Carlson regarding his outlook on Russia’s war against Ukraine and the West’s commitments in that conflict will be finely parsed for months to come. It deserves to be. DeSantis has staked out a position he will struggle to defend and, should he emerge as the GOP nominee next year, potentially represents a significant liability for his campaign.
The excerpt: Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is a “dispute” over territory in the same way a bank robber and depositor have a “dispute” over money. This statement establishes equivalencies between invader and invaded that do not exist. DeSantis may struggle, as any honest broker would, to explain why the hypothetical prospect of a Chinese land grab in the Pacific is of more immediate urgency than the ongoing Russian land grab in a state that borders U.S. allies with whom we have defense pacts.
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The context, from the author: America’s self-inflicted trouble in Ukraine aggravates our dangerous trouble at home.
The excerpt: American national power is measured as much by American military capability as by economic potential and performance. The growing realization that American and European military-industrial capacity cannot keep up with Ukrainian demands for ammunition and equipment is an ominous signal to send during a proxy war that Washington insists its Ukrainian surrogate is winning.
From “Biden Administration Hurries To Protect The Ruling Class But Habitually Abandons Hardworking Americans,” by Jordan Boyd in The Federalist at tinyurl.com/46rb8amh.
The context, from the author: Under the Biden administration, it’s regular Americans, not the woke ruling class, who get the short end of the stick.
The excerpt: While Silicon Valley tech bros and their businesses get federal guarantees that will save their fancy houses, cars, and expensive parties within days of impending disaster, hardworking middle-class Americans like those in East Palestine, Ohio, have spent weeks begging the federal government to pay attention to what quickly became one of the worst environmental disasters in recent U.S. history.