Right and Left React to Trump’s Comments on the Civil War
The political news cycle is fast, and keeping up can be overwhelming. Trying to find differing perspectives worth your time is even harder. That’s why we have scoured the internet for political writing from the right and left that you might not have seen.
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• Samuel Goldman in Law and Liberty:
“Intellectual conservatism has entered its crack-up phase.”
Samuel Goldman argues that, historically, conservative thought can be split into two fundamental tendencies: liberalism and reaction. Now, after decades of uneasy coexistence, the two tendencies are causing the conservative mind to “come apart.” Read more »
• Jacob Heilbrunn in The National Interest:
“Donald Trump is inviting the wrong Asian dictator to meet him in Washington. Instead of focusing on Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte, he should extend an invitation to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.”
Whereas some have bristled at President Trump’s willingness to meet with authoritarian leaders, Jacob Heilbrunn sees an opportunity. If there’s anything that the Cold War has taught us, he writes, is that “détente offers a road to undermining totalitarian regimes.” Read more »
• Michelle Malkin in Townhall:
“Kimmel doesn’t need more maudlin Twitter suck-uppery. He needs a healthy fact-check.”
Not everyone on the right had a empathetic reaction to Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue this week about his newborn son. Michelle Malkin decided to take a more measured approach to the comedian’s statements, writing, “I feel your pain. But please use your brain.” Read more »
• Rich Lowry in Politico:
“The Party of Lincoln should, despite the enthusiasm of President Trump, keep Old Hickory at a healthy arm’s length.”
President Trump is trying to do for Andrew Jackson what Lin-Manuel Miranda did for Alexander Hamilton, and Rich Lowry is not pleased. Despite Jackson’s “stalwart unionism,” the G.O.P. should “curb their enthusiasm” when it comes to resurrecting this figure as the party’s standard-bearer. Not least because they have a perfectly suitable historical avatar in Abraham Lincoln. Read more »
• Matthew Walther in The Week:
“Conservatives in this country should get used to the idea of being prudent stewards of the welfare state, not its would-be destroyers.”
You won’t often hear a conservative case for a single-payer health care system, which is why this article by Matthew Walther is so valuable to read. “Conservatism,” Mr. Walther writes, “is about stability and solidarity across class boundaries, not a fideistic attachment to classical liberal dogma.” Read more »
• Jamelle Bouie in Slate:
“Trump isn’t wrong to think there was a deal that could have prevented the Civil War. There was. But the price of that deal was the maintenance of slavery.”
President Trump’s comments about Andrew Jackson and the Civil War are more than just the latest in a series of misstatements. For Jamelle Bouie, they speak to a mind-set that privileges the success of a deal above its moral outcome. Moreover, they remind Mr. Bouie that the president’s “ignorance isn’t an act or a performance.” A president who knows nothing of history is doomed to repeat its mistakes. Read more »
• Seth Masket in Pacific Standard:
“[President Trump] has helped to explode three of American politics’ most pernicious myths.”
You could say that Seth Masket is a glass-half-full kind of guy. That’s because he sees the Trump administration’s first 100 days as a great way to dispel three persistent fallacies about American politics: The idea that politics is easy; the superiority of the political outsider; and the notion that government should be run as a business. Read more »
• Naomi Wolf in New Republic:
“Wolf whistle politics represents a new and frightening thing in twenty-first-century American public life: naked primal political rage howling at women, in filthy and scary ways.”
You’ve heard of dog whistle politics, now learn about wolf whistle politics, a term coined by the former Texas state senator Wendy Davis to describe the “explicit, in-your-face sexism” of our political moment. Naomi Wolf sketches the contours of this crude new political rhetoric and finds hope in the women “howling back.” Read more »
• Harvey Kantor in conversation with Jennifer Berkshire in Have You Heard:
“We’re asking education to do things it can’t possibly do.”
An idea in David Leonhardt’s column this week rankled some thinkers on the left. “Education isn’t just another issue,” Mr. Leonhardt wrote. “It is the most powerful force for accelerating economic growth, reducing poverty and lifting middle-class living standards.” Harvey Kantor believes that this line of thinking is a prime example of “educationalizing the welfare state,” the belief that education can account for — and fix — the societal ills more appropriately addressed by other government programs. The result, Mr. Kantor tells Jennifer Berkshire in their interview, “has been increasing support for the kinds of market-oriented policies that make inequality worse.” Read more »
• Suleiman A. Mourad in Jacobin:
“What Muslim world are we expecting these actors to build after ISIS is gone?”
Suleiman Mourad chronicles how the disastrous American-led interventions in the Middle East have destabilized the region, creating the conditions for terrorist groups like ISIS to take hold. Moreover, the allies the United States has chosen, from the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, offer little assurance of a peaceful and free future for their citizens. Read more »
• Kellogg School of Management:
“Even people who start out holding two points of view at the same time can very quickly go into an echo chamber.”
Much has been written about the way social media algorithms contribute to the filter bubble problem. But what role does human behavior play in the formation and consolidation of political echo chambers? Brian Uzzi, a professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management, teamed up with a group of Italian researchers to study the decisions people make in their newsfeeds. Read more »
• Hal Brands in War on the Rocks:
“When it comes to foreign policy, the one thing that has become piercingly obvious so far is that this president has no idea where he is going.”
Hal Brands, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, concludes that the Trump administration’s foreign policy to date can be summed up in two words: “incoherence and incompetence.” Any attempt to bring together the string of decisions made by the president under the umbrella of “America First,” Mr. Brands writes, misunderstands the “fundamentally unserious approach to some of the most serious geopolitical issues.” Read more »
• The Oatmeal:
“You’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you.”
Here’s something new to the partisan roundup: a comic. It’s about the “backfire effect,” and if you don’t know what that is, all the better. The best way to read this is to have as little introduction as possible. Read more »
• Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine:
“The more I read today’s more serious reactionary writers, the more I’m convinced they are much more in tune with the current global mood than today’s conservatives, liberals, and progressives.”
Andrew Sullivan’s ideological position is so hard to categorize, we’ve given him his own section.
In this thoughtful feature, Mr. Sullivan advises liberals and traditional conservatives to take the reactionary right seriously and engage — carefully, but in good faith — with their ideas. If we fail to do this, he writes, we risk “forfeit[ing] the politics of the moment (and the future) to reaction.” And so, he does just that.
Speaking with the intellectual defenders of Trumpism, Mr. Sullivan lays out a worldview occasionally obscured by heated rhetoric and inarticulate pundits. He’s sympathetic to the sense of loss that colors the reactionary mind, “I know its psychological temptations intimately,” but refuses to defend the movement’s response, their “veiled racism is disturbing, and their pessimism a solipsistic pathology.” Ultimately, he writes, “their rage eclipses their argument.” But he impresses upon his reader the importance of understanding this argument. Read more »
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