1. Opinion

Selected readings from the left and from the right

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 "Andrew Gillum's Win Is Great News for All Democrats — Despite What the Media May Tell You" by Joan Walsh in The Nation at

The context, from the author: The (Bernie) Sanders forces supposedly have the establishment on the run, with the surprise victory of Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum in a crowded Democratic primary race. But again, that's the wrong takeaway from an exciting primary. Gillum was an early Hillary Clinton surrogate and convention delegate whose victory is first and foremost due to the hard work of African American Democrats, the backbone of the party. The "Gillum beats the establishment" storylines are creating a false narrative.

The excerpt: A cross-party spectrum of Resistance groups backed Gillum, but the media wants to give all credit to Sanders. Somehow, they are managing to frame his win as somehow divisive, when in fact it holds the promise of ending the unnecessary schism between "identity politics" and "economic progressivism." Gillum, by the way, didn't have to be "pushed left" by the Sanders forces. Like a lot of folks who supported Clinton (myself included), he was already there.

From "The Culture War Is On" by Sarah Jones in the New Republic at

The context, from the author: The real key to grasping the persistence of white evangelical affection for Trump can be found in his headline-making warnings about the midterms — that the conservative agenda would come under political attack, and that conservatives would come under physical attack, too.

The excerpt: Evangelicals have regained influence in the White House, and they intend to keep it. The Christian right, after all, is an accomplished political body. If its leaders still back Trump, it's not because they're dupes. Rather, they've made a series of calculated political decisions — ones that may appear to be in conflict with their religious convictions, but which actually are in line with an overarching political agenda.

From "Public Transport Should Be Free" by Wojciech Keblowski in Jacobin Magazine at

The context, from the author: We don't put coins in street lamps or pay by the minute in public parks. Here's why we should make subway and bus fares a thing of the past.

The excerpt: The fundamental value of fare abolition lies in simplifying the way public transport is used: it can be taken by anybody, at any time, according to any needs they may have. Public transport is thus imagined not as a commodity, but as a "common good" — similar to many other public services such as health care, education, parks, roads, sidewalks, cycling paths, streetlights and lampposts, libraries, schools, kindergartens or playgrounds.


From "Explaining The Left, Part III" by Dennis Prager in the National Review at

The context, from the author: The secular religion of Leftism has replaced Christianity and Judaism.

The excerpt: Judaism and Christianity hold that utopia on Earth is impossible — it will come only in God's good time as a Messianic age or in the afterlife. Leftism holds that utopia is to be created here on Earth — and as soon as possible. That is why leftists find America so contemptible. They do not compare it to other nations but to a utopian ideal — a society with no inequality, no racism, no differences between the sexes (indeed, no sexes), and no greed, in which everything important is obtained free.

From " 'Medicare for All' Is a Fantasy" by Reiham Salam in The Atlantic at

The context, from the author: The surge in support for "Medicare for All" gives Republicans the chance to offer a coherent alternative.

The excerpt: Medicare for All is, to my mind, a Year Zero fantasy — it's all about wiping the slate clean and starting over again, with institutions borrowed from some supposedly more enlightened society. But there is no such thing as Year Zero in a democracy, whether capitalist or socialist. The history of how we got to our present shambles will continue to shape, and deform, our health sector. Instead of indulging the Year Zero fantasy, we ought to focus insurance subsidies on those who need them most and, just as importantly, shift from provider policies that do little more than shield hospitals from much-needed competition to ensuring that all Americans have the emergency and safety-net services they need.

From "Call Him American" by Alice B. Lloyd in the Weekly Standard at

The context: Here's what the story of Somali-born green card lottery winner Abdi Nor Iftin can tell us about ourselves as Americans. He loved America, but it was pure luck that he got to come here.

The excerpt: The (green card) lottery program's persistence, for now, helps us hang on to a sense of who we are as a nation, and what sort of randomly lucky but also exceptionally stubborn persevering stock we, on the whole, actually came from. But its actual value is matter of faith. The best argument for keeping any form of the program, then, is the way it lets us see ourselves: as a people who put our faith in the rewards of freedom for all. The next best argument is Iftin, aka "the American."