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Jim Verhulst - Deputy Editor of Editorials
A liberal’s credo, a conservative’s complaint and dumb conspiracy theories | Excerpts and readings
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
 
A Trump flag ahead of former President Donald Trump's 2024 election campaign rally in Waco, Texas, in March.
A Trump flag ahead of former President Donald Trump's 2024 election campaign rally in Waco, Texas, in March. [ SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP | Getty Images North America ]
Published Nov. 25, 2023|Updated Nov. 25, 2023

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 “Why I Am a Liberal,” by Cass R. Sunstein in The New York Times at tinyurl.com/mry5dv2r.

The context, from the author: Perhaps more than ever, there is an urgent need for a clear understanding of liberalism — of its core commitments, of its breadth, of its internal debates, of its evolving character, of its promise, of what it is and what it can be.

The excerpt: Liberals look forward as well as backward. They like to think that the arc of history bends toward justice. William F. Buckley Jr. said that his preferred form of conservatism “stands athwart history, yelling, Stop.” Liberals ask history to explain its plans, and they are prepared to whisper, “Go.”

From “The Real Reason Why Biden Shouldn’t Drop Out,” by Walter Shapiro in The New Republic at tinyurl.com/3rhb2rsf.

The context, from the author: A contested Democratic primary with less than a year before the 2024 election would be a mess.

The excerpt: If (President Joe) Biden dropped out at any point before the Democratic convention, it is virtually certain there would be a contested battle for the nomination. That’s the way politics works — and not even a Biden endorsement of Kamala Harris would change that. Vice President Richard Nixon in 1960 is the last nonincumbent to be granted a presidential nomination without a fight. And even Nixon had to mollify New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. Since then, three sitting vice presidents have faced spirited challenges: Hubert Humphrey at the tempestuous 1968 convention, George H.W. Bush in 1988, and Al Gore in 2000.

From “The Left Comes for Biden on Israel,” by Susan B. Glasser in The New Yorker at tinyurl.com/2vepay6r.

The context, from the author: As the Israel-Hamas war divides the Democrats, what does it mean that young activists are protesting the president, not Xi Jinping or Donald Trump?

The excerpt: A party divided against itself will only have a harder time standing up against Trump— or Xi for that matter. (President Joe) Biden, as the drama of recent weeks has reinforced, is and will remain a proud and unyielding son of the 20th century. Is it enough, in this age of TikTok, to give him another go?

FROM THE RIGHT

From “Everything Is — Still — Fine,” by Michael Anton in The American Mind at tinyurl.com/yf8jf6fx.

The context, from the author: Official conservatism would rather harumph about dissidence than address core issues.

The excerpt: Above all, explain to me why a “conservatism” that claims to stand four-square for constitutionalism, the founding, the rule of law, law and order, impartial justice, “freedom,” limited government, virtue, morality, religion, free speech, the right of self-defense, etc., is so incandescently angry at those of us who point out that all these things (and more) are under mortal threat while those same “conservatives” assiduously bow and scrape to those causing the threat.

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From “Why Joe Biden’s Poll Numbers Are Even Worse For Democrats Than They Think,” by Kylee Griswold in The Federalist at tinyurl.com/34pexzy8.

The context, from the author: Democrats have one huge, unavoidable problem. And his name is Joe Biden.

The excerpt: The implications are simple. Voters are confronting a rare moment in U.S. history in which they can actually compare what it’s like to live under the leadership, or lack thereof, of the two major presidential candidates. Do they want Bidenomics or the affordable grocery and gas prices of the Trump era? Do they want war in the Middle East — or Eastern Europe or the South China Sea — or peace? Do they want an open border or national security? The Trump-Biden decision is an increasingly easy calculation for voters to make. So Democrats are stuck. And they did this to themselves.

From “The Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theories Are Still Dumb,” by Noah Rothman in The National Review at tinyurl.com/yc927drk.

The context, from the author: There is no good defense of the Capitol riot — but that hasn’t stopped MAGA partisans from attempting to neutralize one of Trump’s major political weaknesses.

The excerpt: Trump’s partisans are doing the Democrats’ work for them. They are resurfacing the footage from that day and, with it, the public’s distaste for the rioters and the conspiracy theory around which they rallied. They are reminding voters of that day’s painful emotional experience. They are demonstrating the degree to which their paranoid persecution complex clouds their judgment. At root, the effort to convince voters that they cannot trust their own eyes exposes MAGA supporters’ troubled consciences.