Selected readings from the left and from the right

Published June 29, 2018

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 "More Devoted To Order Than To Justice" by Ibram X. Kendi in The Atlantic at

The context, from the author: Political moderates who counsel against confrontation and warn of incivility would abandon the tools that have changed America for the better.

The excerpt: Harassing political opponents is fully American and American history is full of it. If my ideological ancestors did not harass their political opponents, I would still be enslaved. I would still be segregated by law. I would still be one traffic stop away from death without any sustained movement insisting that my black life matters.

From "Mitch McConnell's Politics Of Shamelessness Have Won" by Matthew Yglesias in Vox at

The context, from the author: Nobody likes him, but he's the most effective politician of his time.

The excerpt: McConnell's great strength as a politician is that he doesn't care. He doesn't care that it's hypocritical, he doesn't care that I think it's hypocritical, and he doesn't care that Chuck Todd thinks it's hypocritical. He just waives the objection away with a sniff and sneer and on we go. It works for McConnell because he's not interested in being thought of as a high-minded guy or in being well-regarded by high-minded people. He wants to be thought of as an effective party politician, and he is an effective politician. Ask me, ask Chuck Todd, ask anyone.

From "Give The Left A Chance" by Sarah Jones in the New Republic at

The context, from the author: What Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's stunning primary victory means for the 2018 midterms and beyond.

The excerpt: November's general elections will more accurately test the viability of leftist candidates. But it is clear, at least, that the Democratic Party's base does not necessarily share the pragmatic concerns of party leadership or, for that matter, the party's donors. The trick is to give voters real targets for their resentment. Voters are correct to believe that something's rotten. Their livelihoods are indeed under threat — but from growing wealth inequality, not from immigrants.


From "Good Riddance, Justice Kennedy" by the editors of the National Review at

The context, from the authors: Kennedy did not owe conservatives decisions that they liked. What all Americans deserved from him was the conscientious application of the law. That they did not get it is the true indictment of his time on the Supreme Court.

The excerpt: No justice, right or left, was more willing to substitute his judgment for that of elected officials and voters. No justice was less willing to tie himself down to clear rules or a legal philosophy that would constrain him in future cases, let alone rules or a philosophy that bore a plausible relation to the Constitution. We moved toward a system of government no Founder intended, in which his whim determined policy on a vast range of issues.

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From "If The Democrats Want Socialism, They Should Go Local" by Jeff Groom in the American Conservative at

The context, from the author: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to push socialist policies through Congress. Why doesn't she start back home?

The excerpt: Before Ocasio-Cortez's romantic notions of socialist utopia and economic justice run head-first into America's federalist power-sharing system, it's worth examining them through the lens of local politics and social capital. Is running for Congress the right path to institute socialist policies for your constituents? Examining the democratic side of her democratic socialism first, Ocasio-Cortez's fatal flaw is well summarized in her campaign video introduction: "I was born in a place where your zip code determines your destiny." This system, she says, doesn't work. The rent keeps climbing, wages are low, access to health care is prohibitive, and families struggle. Yet it is also well known that democracy works best at the local level and decreases in effectiveness as the scale of the population increases.

From "If You're Worried About People Having Too Much Power Over You, Then I've Got Great News" by Brandon Morse in RedState at

The context, from the author: As a libertarian-minded guy, I often find myself throwing my hands up in the air as the solution is right in front of everyone, and yet no one wants to see it. ... We as Americans have the unique ability to limit the scope of our government. We can vote in citizens who will go about the task of reducing their own position until it's as effective as a clerical position.

The excerpt: My simple advice? Vote in people who don't want to rule over you. Vote in people who will proceed to eliminate or significantly reduce parts of the government you were previously panicking over because someone you didn't like was in charge. Not doing so will only make things worse, and maybe eventually you really will have something to panic about.