Selected readings from the left and from the right

Published Sept. 15, 2017

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 First White President" by Ta-Nehisi Coates in the Atlantic at

The context, from the author: The foundation of Donald Trump's presidency is the negation of Barack Obama's legacy.

The excerpt: The mind seizes trying to imagine a black man extolling the virtues of sexual assault on tape ("When you're a star, they let you do it"), fending off multiple accusations of such assaults, immersed in multiple lawsuits for allegedly fraudulent business dealings, exhorting his followers to violence, and then strolling into the White House. But that is the point of white supremacy — to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification.

From "What Betsy DeVos Gets Wrong About Sexual Assault on Campus" by Elizabeth Adetiba in the Nation at

The context, from the author: The Department of Education secretary's focus on due process shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the dynamics at play in campus rape investigations.

The excerpt: DeVos rail(s) against the treatment of the accused, but the irony of (her) focus on due process is that it assumes society treats the accuser fairly to begin with. Victims and survivors are rarely ever granted dignity — or even trust in their story — from the get-go.

From "The Battle for the Heart and Soul of the Republican Party" by Mike Ervin in the Progressive at

The context, from the author: So there's this big philosophical battle going on among our nation's most prominent conservatives. They're fighting over how to define the heart and soul of the Republican Party. This is all very fascinating to me because I never knew the Republican Party had a heart or soul. When did that happen? Did I miss something?

The excerpt: (Trump's) more civilized opponents are quick to express their deep dismay over the racist, sexist, and homophobic tone of the his rhetoric. Such blatant bigotry, they proclaim, will ultimately spell doom for the party. That's why they long for a return to the days when Republicans expressed racism, sexism, and homophobia in a much more subtle and coded manner.


From "Are You Sure You Want Medicare for All?" by J.D. Tuccille in Reason at

The context, from the author: Expanding existing government health-care systems would also spread the reach of their already messy problems.

The excerpt: In the case of a single-payer transition, doctors who find the terms of Medicare for All unacceptable may switch entirely to private-pay (if that's still permitted), while some percentage will leave medicine entirely.

From "The U.S. Is Not the Highest-Taxed Nation in the World" by Kevin D. Williamson in the National Review at

The context, from the author: Trump on the stump insists that the United States is the highest-taxed nation in the world. That is ... not exactly true, or close to true, or within the realm of things that might be true if you squint a bit and turn your head sideways. It is, in fact, false.

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The excerpt: There's more to Sweden and Denmark than higher taxes, but conservatives would do themselves a favor to try to understand progressives on their own terms: Germany and Norway aren't exactly unlivable hellholes; they just have different arrangements from the ones we think would be best for the United States. The problem for the Left is that Democrats cannot, under most circumstances, tell the truth about U.S. taxes, either, because the American middle class does not want to hear that it isn't paying enough in taxes to fund the benefits it wants.

From "How Trump Could Have Used Democrats to Crush the Establishment GOP" by Jonathan V. Last in the Weekly Standard at

The context, from the author: In an alternative universe, President Donald Trump could have partnered with Democrats to push through his populist agenda — and marginalize the Republican establishment.

The excerpt: The sad fact of the Republican party is that it's always talking about limited government and social conservatism and freedom and liberty — but the only thing it ever seems willing to shed blood over is cutting capital gains and the top marginal tax rates. Trump could have changed all of that.