Newsom vs. DeSantis Is Our Inevitable Culture War

Oct 26, 2022 · 787 comments
Jack (New York)
There is a case to be made for classic conservatism but Ross's Catholic view of things doesn't come close.
AriK SM (Santa Monica)
False equivalencies by someone trying to come across as reasonable and balanced. If Fox News is "fair and balanced," I guess this piece is, too.
Robert (Seattle)
In the meantime, out here in the real world, Ross Douthat has nada to say about the Republican senate candidate from Georgia (the no-exceptions, no-abortion fellow) who has pressured at least two of his partners to hurry up already and get one or two or who knows how many abortions. Male Republican Senate candidate: The abortion you want should be illegal, and we'll call it murder. The one I want you to get is just fine, even if I have to make you get it.
MrC (Nc)
The anti abortion crowd have neen committing all sorts of violent crimes for 30 years. including murder, assault and kidnapping. 70 cases the other way seems quite mild in my view. Women across the USA had their settled rights pulled out from under them by religious zealots in the Catholic and Baptist cults. What did you expect.
MrC (Nc)
The overarching feature of Catholicism is the denegration of women. Why any woman or intelligent man would join such a cult is beyond me. Does that make me an elite?
LaPine (Pacific Northwest)
"Since the leak of the Dobbs decision in May, the conservative organization CatholicVote has counted 75 attacks on pro-life organizations around the country — vandalism, arson, graffiti, a firebombing." Wow! Versus what? How many providers were murdered by "pro-life" people since Roe v Wade? How many clinics were burnt? Vandalized? How many people were threatened? Assaulted? Continue to be? Do you think we are stupid? This statement wouldn't last a minute in a debate. When enough people vote GOP and our democracy is lost, so is your job. Better plan for it. Why would an oligarchy need a free press? They won't. Have any other skills to trade for money? Because you will need to do a lot of trading when we are no longer living in a democracy, and you have to pay for everything you took for granted.
Larry Figdill (Seattle)
Newsome may be a confident progressive politician, but DeSantis is an aggressive and mean spirited jerk in addition to being a conservative politician. This is not a both sides equal comparison.
Reader (Anonymous)
If all we have is Newsome on our bench we’re in trouble.
Jamie Lynne Keenan (queens nyc)
I usually don't agree with you but yes Authoritarianism runs deep at both ends of the Culture divide. I find that a lot of your arguments about culture are usually intellectually precise but you seem to be stuck in the same place as republicans in the 80's : Just say no. Tough love. You make excuses for angry fearful people who want to live in white christian ghettos in the wilderness.They worry that brown people are coming for them when it's their second cousin with a dozen AR's and thousands of rounds and mental illness and drugs who they really fear and won't report to the feds because he's just a good ol boy.
Maryellen Simcoe (Baltimore)
Did Jane's revenge shoot anyone? While they were in church?
Christian Haesemeyer (Melbourne)
Absolutely incredible stuff. Forced birth fascists have harassed women for decades, and murdered doctors - but Ross is very upset that someone graffitied a few of the buildings this anti-women terrorism is planned from. This, I remind you, is considered “smart” conservatism.
Jer (New York)
I certainly remember the cops being super friendly and supportive to the protestors yeah. Good memory Ross. He’s become a Christian nationalist basically?
scott (earth)
yes we can vs. no you can't
mmk (Silver City, NM)
Maybe law enforcement goes after anti-abotrtion activists because they actually do kill doctors, bomb clinics, intimidate and lie to women seeking abortions. Jeesh.
E. Miller (BRLA)
If only “you [could] imagine your way into the other faction’s perspective,” Russ.
Buttercup (Nj)
Get back to me when a facility has been firebombed or someone….like a doctor….murdered.
David (Chicago)
Culture war? Like the war on Christmas? Like the evil empire and reagans support of the muhajadin??Like trump calling for lynching Of pence? Conservatives have always loved to call things a war! Battle! Combat! These right wing extremists are totally phony and are the creations /puppets of newscorp. Starting with newt Gingrich. ..a battle hardened vet! Ross you are a conservative Christian. ..I know you are a follower of the 10 commandments! Remember what they say about lies. Now go off to battle!
samuelclemons (New York)
There's a myth that the left has a preponderance for violence over the right. With the exception of some crazed Marxist types, nothing could be further from the truth.
RichardPVB (Ponte Vedra Beach)
I am not sure that most of these "Readers" actually read the article.
Wrigley (Los Angeles)
Don’t let Gav’s movie star looks fool you. He’s no light weight.
Alan R Brock (Richmond VA)
I'm not averse to informed opinion I happen to disagree with. However, I don't expect the NYT to assault my intelligence by citing an opinion piece from The Washington Examiner. It is not a credible publication and it doesn't deserve attention in this space. I likewise don't expect a recap of Judge Jeanine's or Sean Hannity's latest rantings on Fox ''News'' here. Perhaps some editorial reflection is in order.
Hugh Briss (Climax, VA)
DeSantis never fails to remind me of Alice Roosevelt Longworth's joke about Calvin Coolidge: "He looks like he was weaned on a pickle."
terri smith (USA)
Oh Boo hoo. Anti abortionists have been terrorizing abortion clinics, their personnel and the women who go there for medical procedures for decades.
Mary Blackwell (Dracut, MA)
You are not on the side of the angels, Ross. Don’t kid yourself.
American in London (London, UK)
Any of those pro-choice advocates ever murder someone like the anti-abortion crazies? I didn't think so Ross.
Lawson (Portland, ME)
They're not "abortion opponents" they're "choice opponents," btw.
Graham Hackett (Oregon)
Ross, so often you do so well, I don't know why you'd taint yourself by quoting an absolute rag like the Washington Examiner. Let's be real honest here, if the US were to split into two countries, one lead by DeSantis and one by Newsom, we all know you'd prefer to live under Newsom. As would anyone not blinded by partisan insanity.
Kashisa (NY)
For many voters it will come down to this One eats in the French Laundry with millionaire friends where prices starts at $ 350 , the other in Indian Restaurant Amrit where a Chicken Tandoori is $12.95
MJ (Nashville)
Words words words. No one can twist the truth quite like Ross: a zealot in an op-Ed writers clothing.
Old Coyote (Raleigh, NC)
Oddly, DeSantis and Newsome share a love of Beatles music, but that's where the similarity ends. Newsom is all about "With a Little Help From My Friends", while DeSantis is more of a "Run for Your Life" kind of guy. Newsome's belting out: Do you need anybody? I just need someone to love Could it be anybody? I want somebody to love Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends Oh, I get high with a little help from my friends Yes, I get by with a little help from my friends With a little help from my friends While DeSantis' cruel flat deadpan response goes something like this: Well, you know that I'm a wicked guy And I was born with a jealous mind And I can't spend my whole life Trying just to make you toe the line You better run for your life if you can, little girl Hide your head in the sand, little girl Catch you with another man That's the end, little girl The contrast couldn't be any more starkey. Some would even say these songs Ringos of the truth.
ELE (Eureka, CA)
Oh please. DeSantis probably can’t even spell California. There’s no comparison.
Kevin (SJ, CA)
Philip (Seattle)
Can we stop using the phrase "there there," as seen in the final paragraph, please? It doesn't actually communicate anything nor does it sum anything up nor drive any point home. Not that the article lacked a point. But the superfluous language makes the point less discernable and less digestable.
Mostly (Henderson, NV)
Fine and dandy if you're willing to overlook the Conservative movement's fascist brain tumor. The big blue states pay the bills in this country. Conservative power is based on non college whites and their like minded rich people. The California market is bigger than Texas and Florida combined.
Mitchell (Carlsbad)
Headline is confusing, hardly any mention of Gov Newsome.
Oregonian (Portland)
Since their religion forced on the rest of us will mean the death of women, I think the real terrorists are the Catholic supreme court justices who stripped us of our right to life liberty and happiness.
2manyhorsez (DC area)
How many abortion clinics have been bombed over the years? How many abortion providers have been murdered? These zealots are not "pro-life", they are insane religious extremists...on a par with the Taliban.
John Grillo (Edgewater, MD)
Any individual who is a zealous, frequent supporter of a so-called “religion” with a monstrous history, both contemporary and distant, saturated with the worst of human abuses, corruption, and criminality well deserves to not have his opinions taken seriously. This paper could do much, much better than subject its readership to sheer sloppy sophistry.
faivel1 (NYC)
Here's the link I promised in my previous comment: Sparks fly in Morning Joe debate on GOP threat to democracy: 'If that's not fascism, I don't know what is'
lolly (PA)
Ross has an unhealthy obsession about abortion. He just can't seem to quit talking about it. All the pregnancies that occur aren't the result of spontaneous generation. Surprise surprise! Perhaps Ross's time might be more appropriately spent writing columns for men, various dead-beat dads, how to use a condom and get a vasectomy, and the various responsibilities that might ensue following irresponsible sex. Stay in your lane, Ross.
RS (Northern VA)
"Since 1977, there have been 11 murders, 42 bombings, 196 arsons, 491 assaults..." against abortion providers
Anita (Pittsburgh)
The alleged failure to prosecute violence against anti-choicest is a crock. They are behind numerous instances of violence against clinics and other health care facilities, including those that don’t perform abortions. There is no equivalent violence by pro- choice advocates.
morGan (NYC)
If the NE secedes, will Ross stay or move to a more comfortable zone like AL, GA, MIS, or TX? I hope he will consider moving out. After all, why would he live with pagan liberals who support abortion?
PerplexedAgain (Currently not in USA)
Doctors at abortion clinics have been killed. One side takes their anger - God given - too far.
2manyhorsez (DC area)
Hard to believe that the NYT still gives the rabidly catholic Douthat a column. His comments are so far from mainstream that he belongs in the religion section, not opinion. Less than 20% share his strict religious doctrine.
And it's still about two white men.
John B. (NY)
Also Ross, get back to us with your phoney false equivalencies when we hear of some gang of liberals plotting to kidnap the governor.
Aaron Wasser (California)
The thing about DeSantis is that he's just dumber than a fence post.
Jerry (Murphy)
Republican theocrats are busy stripping people of their rights and scream about their gun rights and religious freedom. Why should I care about their rights if they stamp on our rlghts?
Rachel (Auburn, CA)
I bet the Pope secretly detests this guy.
ML (Boston)
It's always the converts who seem to be the most inflexible zealots. I don't understand why the Times keeps giving this author such a huge megaphone for his small, cramped views.
Chris (Mountain View, CA)
Whataboutism from Douthat. Shocking. You're certainly entitled to your opinion, Mr. Douthat, but what a shame that you use the pulpit that the NYT has given you to inaccurately compare Gov. Newsom with the would-be fascist of Florida.
RM (Worcester)
Two idiot extremist opportunists- they have no love for our nation and their only goal is grab power by any means. Newsom is a clueless Governor who is destroying California everyday through his pandering politics. DeSantis is a morally bankrupt pol promoting race baiting and division.
Erik (Santa Monica)
"Houck said he was defending his 12-year-old son from verbal abuse." Houck shoved a 72 year old man to the ground, twice in two separate altercations. The victim was an abortion clinic escort, which is the person who walks with women while people like Houck shout verbal abuse at women who just want to walk from their car into the clinic in peace. Houck is literally only there for the purpose of committing verbal abuse. And he brought his son! "Good job calling that woman a whore and murderer, son! I'm proud of you!" I clicked through the list of 75 "attacks", which mostly consist of spray painting graffiti on a wall. I didn't come across a single actual act of violence.
SCZ (Indpls)
What I distrust most about De Santis is his open contempt and hostility for more than half of the American population. His contemptuous attitude toward anyone whom he perceives as an opponent - a liberal or a moderate of any stripe - is not only plain to see, but it can't be missed because De Santis himself brags about it. Culture wars be damned - open contempt and ill will are far worse. Don't vote for a man who wishes more than half of America did not exist. Don't vote fro a man who wants to be President of the U.S., but doesn't want to be President or try to help anyone who thinks differently than he does.
Nathan (San Francisco)
The NYT needs more articles like this. The media has a role in preserving our democracy, helping us find middle ground is the only thing that can save us. NYTs readers are mostly dems and look at the comments. I see lots of "false equivalencies" the dems are right the author is wrong, yada yada yada. The people making these comments are part of the problem. Adherence to dem dogmatism would give us a socialist country where you could be jailed for mentioning the existence of race. (to be clear socialism does not work, look at every country that's tried it, the nordic countries are not socialist) Adherence to republican dogmatism would give us a country where being gay was a crime, and everything is owned by Amazon. (assuming Trump doesn't strike back) I don't want anything to do with either of the above options. We need to come back to a place before Newt Gingerage and be fine with disagreement.
Jack McNally (Dallas)
Of course, Douthat completely failed to mention that Ron DeSantis trafficked a bunch of human beings up to Martha’s Vineyard. But please let’s hear more false equivalence from Ross.
Rob (San Diego)
Many of those who argue against abortion do it because they figure it will get them better treatment from God when they themselves die. What's the cost to them- only possible benefits? Perhaps the all knowing god knows you are only doing this for yourself, hurting others, nothing to do with saving human life.
Kenny (Oakland)
Newsom can save us from the crazy right wing. What other Democrat can?
tara (mi)
The US code says that 87-year-olds are exempt from all laws, provided they tell this columnist before committing them. Also, surely 7 a.m. arrests are deemed cruel and usual punishment, equivalent to the flogging wheel? and their commission aggravated by the presence in any family home of a child? Ross should go into the business of renting out children to criminals prone to arrest at home. Meanwhile, Ross, how's that Witch Hunt of Donald Trump goin' for you?
Null (TX)
As a South American dictator once poignantly declared, "‘For my friends, everything; for my enemies, the law."
Greg Hodges (Truro, N.S./ Canada)
I feel like this cultural divide the size of the Grand Canyon is getting worse (if that is possible) by the day. Two Solitudes at war with each other on who can be more extreme. Both not willing to give the other the time of day. Terms like "Baby Killers vs. Taliban Fanatics" leaving nothing but a void scorched earth wasteland behind. And yet neither can side can stop pointing fingers long enough to remember Christ`s famous admonition that only "HE who has not sinned" should cast the first stone. Where has your humanity and love for your fellow man/ woman gone?! Only when both sides back down and seek common ground can this insanity end. One side that rejects all things CHRISTIAN; the other side forgetting half the things that make one a Christian to begin with. Since I DARE to bring up this subject; no doubt it will be rejected. Never the less; it is indisputable that NO ONE on either side is listening. Abortion on demand is wrong. NOT taking the life of a woman in distress MUST be recognized and treated with the utmost respect. Not all Catholics are extremist conservatives. Not all religious are neanderthals and fanatics. NOT all those on the pro choice side are "enlightened." Both sides leaping at every opportunity to prove "WE ARE RIGHT /THEY ARE WRONG. A whole lot of soul searching is what is needed here; by both sides. That is if you believe you have a soul?!
Gary V. (Oakland, CA)
By all objective measurements California is a much better run state than Florida. Let us just look at which one of the two Governors worked smarter and harder at keeping Covid death rates down. The CDC tracker says the California death rate was around 91 per 100,000 while Florida's was around 212 per 100,000. This is from a Florida newspaper: Newsom and his team followed the science and DeSantis hired Covid deniers and proposed quack cures. California is the the 5th largest economy in the world while Florida is 16th, CA is home to a large technology industry, Florida? not so much. The list is endless. David French should be asked which of these men would preserve and protect democracy in America. There really should be no comparison between these two men.
Q Frost (Boulder CO)
Freedom of religion is also freedom FROM religion. No true Christian is going to force their religion on you. But we already knew republicans aren't.
Ehillesum (Michigan)
Yes, and it’s gonna be a slam dunk. Just consider that $1.7 million dollar bathroom the size of a small shed that would have taken 3 years to build. So California. Meanwhile, DeSantis helped rebuild a temporary bridge to 2 hurricane ravaged islands. So Florida. Newsom shut down his warm, easy to be outdoors State and suffered the consequences. DeSantis kept his open. Newsom is a hoity-toity pretty boy who hsngs with rich snobs. DeSantis is a very smart, wise and plain-spoken salt of the earth type guy. Wonder who the Smerican people will pick in 2024 when they are despairing even more over crime, costs and massive illegal immigration? Easy.
juamberom (Bogota)
So, Mr Dohuat, Does it that Mr. Steve Bannon conviction, to say something, a biased government party´s power exercise?
Microwave (Your Neighbor)
Where there is love, there is always a “way”. Unfortunately, hate sells.
Jorge (San Diego)
OK, 75 instances of "vandalism, arson, graffiti, a firebombing" against pro-life is concerning. Was anyone's life personally threatened? Did a politician follow them down the street, threatening them (as MTG did mocking David Hogg, the Parkland survivor). Are there wacko radio personalities of the Left anything even close to Alex Jones? Are there any on the Left as scary as Richard Spenser? Are there armed militias on the left threatening religious people or conservatives? There are always going be vandals taking advantage of strife, e.g., during some BLM marches (but mostly peaceful). But are militant women marching for reproductive rights as threatening as a bunch of guys with weapons, in MAGA hats, flying Confederate flags? Don't forget that Antifa came about due to Charlottesville, battling the racist neo-Nazis in the streets. There is no extremist Left threatening America. But there is an extremist Right. This false equivalence of left-right, this victimhood over exaggerated threats to religious liberty is completely absurd. For once, the FBI knows who the enemies of America are, and those enemies love Trump.
DD (California)
Interesting that in a couple matters of practicality, both have broken from party stereotypes in recent months. Newsom supported keeping Diablo Canyon online to avoid electricity shortages and DeSantis has encouraged mail voting due to many voters being displaced by hurricane Ian. That said, I truly hope I don't have these two as a choice for President in 2024. Both have done stupid things.
Steve (Southwest FL)
I had considerable respect for Mr. Douthat before this column. That respect is gone now. "If you are a Florida progressive frightened by DeSantis’s political warfare, though, consider the position of a social or religious conservative in California in recent years." If you are a New York conservative columnist, did your Governor's spokesperson call you a "groomer"? Does the man who took an oath to defend your state's constitution treat you as a threat to children? Ron DeSantis had no intention of governing for the benefit of those he seeks to "own." He has no intention of complying with Florida law if it constrains his presidential ambitions. Defending him is indefensible. This column is the reason I will become, after three decades, a former reader of The New York Times. Readers deserve far better than this.
Sylvia (Palo Alto, CA)
It's so simple, really. If you are against abortion and are a woman, don't have one. If you are a man, you have no skin in the game.
8theist (Vermont)
Oy! You have got to be kidding me with this piece. What kind of right wing bubble are you living in, to have this be your reality. It is good to see how the other side thinks though so for that it was helpful to understand why everyone is so out of their minds lately.
ZecaRioca (GB)
For decades White supremacists have not been treated as domestic terrorists organizations. The end result of it was a Trump election and January 6. Mr. Douthat lives in fantasyland thinking that only “conservatives” are being prosecuted while progressives are getting a pass. Give me a break.
MR Gordy (Greater iowa Metro)
Re: forcing your beliefs on others, my favorite bumper sticker on abortion is enough to settle this- “Against Abortion? Don’t Have One.”
DuckSoup (Anatidae)
Wish I could emigrate to another country but none of the good ones want Americans.
Mike C. (Florida)
DeSantis preys on the helpless for political points. He covets Trump’s rabid following, but he will lose in an election against Newsom. It would be a battle of good against evil.
Gone Coastal (NorCal)
Newsom's state is the 4th or 5th largest economy in the world. What does Deantis have? A state that subsists on blue state tax subsidies. I think I will hitch my wagon to Newsom.
Nolan (Portland, OR)
“consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.” Tell this to the people snatched up by federal agents without cause in Portland, Oregon during the Floyd protests while Proud Boys sat on the roofs of nearby parking garages armed to the teeth with sniper rifles and other munitions. The myopia involved in penning an article like this boggles the mind, truly.
Tom celandine (Somers Point, NJ)
We don't need lectures from Ross Douthat telling us conservatives are being unfairly targeted. Conservatives brought us Donald Trump. Does Ross forget that conservatives would not allow the first Black president to nominate a supreme court judge ? Does he forget three conservative justices lied under oath about Roe v. Wade ? When it comes to civil rights conservatives get a failing grade. Conservatives are blocking the John Lewis Voting Rights bill from coming to a vote. The list goes on and on.
Robert (Seattle)
Try as I might, don't see how anybody is forcing Ross Douthat to go along with the religious beliefs of a religion he does not believe in. (Come to think of it, neither is anybody making him get an abortion, or forcing him to give birth.) After four decades of violence against abortion doctors, abortion patients and those who help them. Four decades of religious fanatics screaming at women outside of clinics. The segue from ignoring that to whatever the heck this is, is jarring.
Robert Roth (NYC)
As a leading forced birth ideologue in the global war on women Ross is trying to regain his equilibrium. How the hatreds of his movement are responded to is one thing. None of it justifies assaulting anyone. But that in no way diminishes the sexual hatred and bigotry which is its calling card.
JSH (Yakima)
"Since the leak of the Dobbs decision in May, the conservative organization CatholicVote has counted 75 attacks on pro-life organizations around the country — vandalism, arson, graffiti, a firebombing." Ross fails to be objective and balanced in the first paragraph The attacks against Planned Parenthood Clinics are far more numerous and severe. From the article: ""We're seeing a dramatic increase in violence and disruption against clinics," she said in an exclusive interview with CBS News. In 2017, violent acts against abortion providers more than doubled from the year prior, according to data compiled by NAF. The group recorded 1,081 violent acts, the most since the group began tracking these incidents. Last year, the group recorded another new record high: 1,369 reported violent acts, including 15 instances of assault and battery, 13 burglaries, 14 counts of stalking and over a thousand episodes of illegal trespassing. In interviews with nearly one dozen clinics, including McNicholas's St. Louis Planned Parenthood, providers say the situation is getting worse. In August alone, three young men were arrested for threatening mass shootings against Planned Parenthood facilities. At the home of one of the suspects, authorities seized 15 rifles, 10 semi-automatic pistols, and 10,000 rounds of ammunition during a raid."
Blud (Detroit)
Deranged anti abortion extremists have been murdering doctors and blowing up clinics for decades. Their only slightly less deranged fellow travelers have been showing up in force and in person at Planned Parenthood clinics to terrorize women seeking lawful medical care. But sure thing Ross, a couple of dozen overnight spraypainting “attacks” are exactly the same. As for California laws being the mirror image of Florida - California laws about offering protected medical care (which is what abortions are) and enforcing anti discrimination laws are only “political” because reactionary revanchist right wingers and evangelical zealots believe gays should be second class citizens and women should be forced to carry all pregnancies to term. These same people used to “believe” blacks people shouldn’t be allowed on the bus and women shouldn’t be able to vote. These are moral issues, not “political” ones. There is a right and a wrong side here, just like there was in the 50s and before that. Pretending these things are the same is not just immoral, it’s sickening.
allen (san diego)
this is basically the civil war we are in right now. not with armies and militias but with laws over abortion rights.
Billy (The woods are lovely, dark and deep.)
For decades marijuana has been categorized as a schedule 1 narcotic so that law enforcement has a widespread excuse to hassle and arrest left wing hippie types and minorities. Liquor is far and away more dangerous and destructive yet is celebrated and legal. The "war on drugs" has been nothing but a prolonged right wing political and legal attack on left leaning people.
Jeff Edmundson (Portland, Oregon)
I read Douthat to hear a thoughtful, nuanced conservative position. This piece has none of that. Instead, it's a textbook example of false equivalency (anti-abortion murderers are not in fact the same as pro-choice harassers, limiting Covid lies is not the same as forcing teachers to lie, and so on ). Douthat at his worst.
george (Napa,Calif.)
It's the "good (and bad) people on both sides" argument.
Moe (Milford)
Excellent article. Pretty much explains why so many people are angry these days. We will not survive if we keep going in this divided direction.
Joan (NY)
In his article Ross ignores one of the most important basic principles embedded in our Constitution and upon which this Country was founded, because so many came here to avoid religious perscution. That principle is, the separation of church and state! The Suprene Court in the Dobbs decision as well as other decisions, goes directly against this principle. The majority of the Court is imposing its religious beliefs on others. As history has shown us, that path leads only to intolerence, deprivation of the rights and perscution of certain groups and eventually the destruction of demoracy.
Jp (Ml)
@Joan :"hat principle is, the separation of church and state! The Supreme Court in the Dobbs decision as well as other decisions, goes directly against this principle." No they're not. It's up to the individual states to determine the laws that govern abortion. You want to keep abortion legal? You're welcome to do so. With the Supreme Court's blessing.
joanno (New York)
At the heart of Douthat's thinking is the idea of duality...that somehow everything boils down to you're either for it or against it, things are either right or wrong, and people are either good or bad. Such thinking seems to predominate when life, in general, becomes pretty complex, when right and wrong, good and bad are simply inadequate to moving forward. We are certainly in one of those times now, not just in the US but worldwide. As long as things are framed in that way, it really does not matter who does the framing. We need people like Douthat to take a step forward, to begin to write not within the current paradigm, but to venture outside it. We need politicians and academics and ministers and everyday people to begin to find that language and share it. Words can change the world. Who is up to the task?
Snuffchan (Seattle)
This is a good attempt to present a balanced argument, but conveniently ignores the difference between the 2 conflicting schools of thought: 1 party seeks to grow, progress, become more enlightened and seeks to better understand, accept and help all people; while the other seeks to regress, stagnate, and cause harm to others who don't rigidly march in lockstep and believe as they do.
Siddharth (South Carolina, U.S.)
A good, balanced editorial. I feel it contains important ideas that should be developed further.
Robert H. (CA)
Mr. Douthat employs every logical fallacy in the book to patch together the necessarily complicated and obscure argument that both sides - both those trying to overthrow our democratic institutions and personal freedoms and those those fighting to preserve them - are equal and vital to a healthy national debate. (Which is like saying Russia's dictatorship and Ukraine's democracy are both necessary for a peaceful nations to co-exist.) No, they are not. Because as soon as authoritarians gain control there is no more public debate - and no democracy or guaranteed rights either. That much is simple and obvious to most people. And the more convoluted the argument trying to convince everyone otherwise - the more certain it is wrong.
Hans Daoghn (Alaska)
While I keep seeing Biden vs. Trump polls, I have not seen any polls on this hypothetical match-up. I would like to see some – more than one. My guess is that Newsom would take California, New York, Illinois, the state of Washington and Oregon handily – overwhelmingly. But in the other 45 states?
Jane (NY)
@Hans Daoghn so by how many people would Newsome win nationwide? Millions,thats how many.
Moe (Milford)
@Hans Daoghn I'd vote for DeSantis. Anybody who looks at California and votes for Newsom is living in an alternate world.
B. (New York City)
Newsom would win the vote of the subscribers to the New York Times but he would not win the state of New York. New York is about to vote in Lee Zeldin as governor. Trump himself would not win here but DeSantis would.
Jeffrey Gillespie (Santa Fe, NM)
What they share is a pervasive and ongoing capitulation to the capitalist elites and a deep love of status quo politics, despite what they may pretend to represent.
Charles (Los Angeles)
This has nothing to do with politics but the Republicans are trying to make it so.
sandcanyongal (CA)
As a 30 year Californian, only the best of the best make it to the governor. Every single man did our state better. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis, Jerry Brown were all non political and loved the people of California. Ron DeSantis wouldn't have a chance in the best state in the US. We get the best of the best. A great state starts with the best government.
Stephen J (Florida)
@sandcanyongal Ron Desantis is an Ivy league graduate, Yale and Harvard Law that served our country for the Navy. Best of best? Ron Desantis is a true leader with brains and guts who leads with common sense. The best of the best
Jack (Los Angeles)
@sandcanyongal As a 40-year Californian I can say, with all certainty, that California consistently produces politicians—particularly governors—that are breathtakingly mediocre. Governor Hair Gel is no exception.
Michael (Orange County)
@sandcanyongal amen
Pinus contorta (Oregon)
Bothsidesism equating the defense of human freedom versus the forces of repression and prejudice. And which side in the abortion issue has murdered physicians and exploded bombs to attempt to win their argument? Remember readers that Lincoln freed enslaved people. He did not win an argument between two legitimate points of view regarding human freedom and autonomy. Those who seek to ban books (can burning them be far off?) or suppress reproductive choice (can Gilead be in the near distance?). There is a difference between those who would seek power to control through suppression, repression, discrimination and legalizing religion as public policy and those who act to expand human freedom and expression. These are not two sides of a political argument; today we are faced by a choice between light and dark, good and evil, freedom and fascism. The GOP and its sycophants want the US to be more like Hungary, Poland or Brazil. Democratic in name, authoritarian and repressive in practice. To be opposed to that project is not simply adopting a contrary polemical stance - it is taking up the challenge to preserve freedom and democracy. If the right really believes in maximum freedom and liberty, why is it that so many of their pronouncements are about repression and suppression of ideas and even people's true natures? When you vote over the next few days, think about the kind of society you want to have - free, or under the thumb of reactionary authoritarians.
Rick Hawksley (Kent Ohio)
If i hear that republicans are “Freedom Loving” and for “ liberty” one more tome my head will explode. Double speak.
Anthony Davis (WA, USA)
A pox on both DeSantis and Newsom. Both are empty suits governing states that exemplify a sunny, colorful exterior that covers a corrupt core. Both play the game of batting social issues back and forth while neither have any real skin in the game. And the more each beats his chest for the red or blue team, the more both are merely noisy distractions from the reality of a shrinking middle class that is increasingly infantilized by the fight.
Robert (Seattle)
@Anthony Davis Please go visit California. It's the real thing: One of the largest and most prosperous economies in the world. Some of the best public universities in the world. Good light rail in San Diego, Bay Area. Etc. Florida on the other hand: DeSantis is nothing but race-and-gender-resentment, racist agitprop 24/7. Florida per capita GDP is--wait a sec, sorry, gotta scroll a long way down here--it's number 35. The public universities are no longer on anybody's best of lists. What's public transportation? We don't need flood insurance. You get the idea.
Blud (Detroit)
@Anthony Davis your argument works great except for the fact that Democrats are not just fighting for the rights of women and minorities of all kinds but also for the working and middle class against the super rich. One party protects power, the other protects people. Pretending they are the same is self serving centrist nonsense.
ialbrighton (Wal - Mart)
I bank on the silent majority. 70 incidents sound like a lot but it will mean a lot more for me if I floss and brush my teeth tonight. It's a good thing that most people don't care. They shouldn't. The news is anecdotal. You can't draw any serious conclusions from it.
Chelmian (Chicago, IL)
How in the world can Ross think the government is being harder on anti-choice ("pro-life") folks? Take the Dobbs decision to start with. And don't all individuals deserve the right to do commerce with any public business (say, cake bakers)? And don't all individuals deserve the right to equal health insurance regardless of who their employer happens to be? If a church employs someone in a secular job, e.g., as a secretary or janitor, they're not representing the religion. So, Ross, I think the government has tilted the playing field toward your religion. I would love a level playing field!
Jason (Los Angeles)
@Chelmian Douthat is suggesting the left has trouble understanding that the right wants freedom from the wrong morality of the left in the same way the left wants freedom from wrong right-wing morality. Your examples of infringement of rights have no correct answer as to who is infringing upon who's freedoms.
Pinus contorta (Oregon)
@Jason Everyone seems to be missing the basic definition of liberalism versus illiberalism. Liberalism is a philosophy of opening the possibilities of human expression and eliminating repression and suppression of those with minority viewpoints. Illiberalism stands for the restriction of expression that does not conform with its parochial social constructs (e.g. hiding truth from children through book banning and restrictive educational rules, elevating religion to become the basis for public policy, suppressing and oppressing sexual, racial and ethnic minorities, claiming to define "true morality" with no room for dispute). Insisting on diversity is not progressivism attempting to triumph over social adversaries; defending greater human freedom does not have a counterargument of any validity.
2manyhorsez (DC area)
@Chelmian Not to mention, the only reason that churches have always been tax exempt is because they're not supposed to weigh in on politics. They've been doing it for decades! Tax the hypocritical churches and watch the national debt vanish.
Walter Ingram (Western MD)
I don't see a "federalist solution," when one sides argument is to do away with federal authority.
Jk (Cambridge)
Weird that you would choose strawman Newsom as the torch bearer democrat. Newsom is a 3rd rate kennedy wannabe knockoff and not seen by anyone on the left as a serious figure.
mmk (Silver City, NM)
@Jk Don't agree with you that he is a Kennedy wannabe but I do think that governing California, with nearly 40 million people and gearing up to replace Germany as the fourth largest economy in the world, is a all-encompassing job. He essentially governs a state that is a country. Given that we don't really value experience as a job requirement for presidents he therefore probably doesn't have a chance. Meanwhile there is Trump, a real estate mogul, Oz, a celebrity doctor and TV personality, Herschel, a fantastic football player and man about town, Tommy Tuberville, a college football coach, and so on. It is almost as if proving ability to govern is seen as a liability. Clowns only need apoly.
Mac (Everywhere)
@Jk Not so. I'm a democrat who has voted for Gavin since he ran for SF mayor. But then I'm an old-school liberal - not a progressive - who doesn't take AOC seriously (awesome Twitterer, tho) so perhaps you have a point.
Geoff (California)
@Jk - ummm, he's the twice elected governor of the 5th largest economy in the world, with fiscal surpluses, strong employment and the world's leader in most technologies - plus a much better climate than I don't think these ignorant insults will be taken seriously.
Red O. Greene (Albuquerque, NM, USA)
"In liberal polemic, DeSantis is the frightening embodiment of illiberalism after Trump . . ." No, he's the frightening embodiment of fascism hand-in-hand with Trump. Inflation is temporary. Fascism is forever.
Ehillesum (Michigan)
@Red O. Greene. Please define a fascist and then list 3 or 5 pieces of evidence (not feelings) showing he is a fascist. Maybe it feels good to call someone a fascist without evidence, but it’s why the left is going to get handed gheir hats in this election. They make things up and then are socked when the wise majority rejects their false narrative.
drew (nyc)
There is no polarity problem. GOP went to the extreme (sometimes fascist and physically attacking our capital) right. Nobody is too far left. Gays should have same rights, women make own decisions, guns should be regulated, air should be clean etc etc.
Bob Chegamos (New York)
@drew private property is to be collectivized, religion abolished, etc...
Patricia (California)
Ross seems to be arguing for a liberal vision (classical Madisonian democracy) PLUS a "moral, even religious consensus." I presume he's talking about everyone accepting abortion bans, since that's what he talks about in the rest of his opinion. You can't achieve a moral or religious consensus in a democracy by forcing your own beliefs on others. This is Ross' essential dilemma--how to meld his religious beliefs with a democratic system where the majority disagrees with him. There is no solution to abortion in federalism, at least not one that Ross would want. He wrote passionately a year ago about his desire for the Supreme Court to find in the 14th Amendment a constitutional right to personhood. I don't think he's changed his goal, nor others on the forced birth side. They want to ban abortion nationwide. In addition, why should women lose their right to bodily autonomy based on where they live? Ross wants us to be hypervigilant about protecting religious freedom, but he seems unaware of what he's imposing on others. Abortion wasn't controversial until the Dobbs decision. If Ross wants the country to settle abortion, we need to pass a federal law codifying Roe. That's what the majority of Americans support.
Jason (Los Angeles)
@Patricia "There is no solution to abortion in federalism, at least not one that Ross would want." Federalism provides a solution to abortion -- states decide abortion based on what their people want. This accounts for the Bible Belt. Federalism, is the system that allows legitimate moral decisions to made on a local, rather than national, basis. Rather than codifying Roe, which is going to be deeply objectionable to the Bible Belt, you could let the Bible Belt States make their own decisions. Rather than side Blue jamming it views upon side Red. Which is what the Supreme Court did. BTW, how legitimate is Congress or the S. Crt that you want either institution creating the law of the Land?
Casual Observer (Los Angeles)
Ron DeSantis thinks that science is unreliable when it contradicts religious beliefs. So he did not respect the peril of pandemic nor the rights of women to make their own decisions about abortions. Given all that mankind has learned and made good from science and all of the obvious evil behaviors by people enabled by their religious beliefs, a moral person would be as skeptical of religion as scientists are of the findings of science.
Wayne (Rhode Island)
Ross, your belief in the fundamental truth of Catholicism does not enable to see the inherent wisdom as well as imperfections of Roe. Nevertheless, two important points that have nothing to do with the right to privacy, which is as implied in the Constitution as the right to pregnancy. First is the laws needed to implement the desires of the theocracy are a violation of separation of Church and State, separation of powers by choosing judges for one purpose and by perjury. Second, is that the laws required would be bills of attainder which puts a lower limit of weeks of gestation to force carrying a pregnancy to term. If there is no serious fetal impairment or threat to the mother one can reasonably assert that the option of choice can be exercised up to viability because then the choices expand. Nevertheless the right MUST belong to the mother because the responsibility ALWAYS. Does. All acts of love are choices.
Oli (cyberspace)
Compare the charges listed against the two states (FL/CA): Florida: 1. Pulled state funding from major corporations (Disney World only if I recall) 2.Undermines free speech in Universities (no actual examples) 3. Threatening unjust restrictions on allowing minors to get transitioning surgery. (limited to threatening + we are talking about minors) Now compare that to California: 1. Pro-life clinics must advertise aboritions 2. Repeated attempts to restrict worship during covid lockdowns that courts had to repeatedly strike down. 3. Health insurance in privately funded churches must provide coverage for abortions. 4. Prohibits state sponsonserd travel to states 'hostile to gay rights' (whatever that means but includes 23 states) 5. Requiring academia to swear oaths to Diversity-Equity-Inclusion loyalty. 6. Prosecuted D. Daleidan for releasing a video 7. Newsome proposed a law to prosecute coivid 'misinformation' Seems pretty clear which 'side' is the one using the state to interfere with individual rights.
MJB (Brooklyn)
@Oli I would humbly suggest that the conclusion you would draw from this list is incomplete. Florida also: - Announced that local regions could make the call on COVID rules in their area, but then made it illegal to do anything but what DeSantis wanted. - They made vague gag rules about what could and could not be taught in schools - not specifying content or who would be punished - to scare teachers into compliance. - They selectively used their powers to grant special rules to corporations to silence political dissent: Disney and the Villages both get special exceptions, but only one got punished. - They take a ton of federal money for climate change abatement projects, but state policy specifically forbids mention of "climate change" in any official communication. The list could go on. Your argument is, if you agree with Ross's charges, you'll agree with Ross that the libs are pretty bad. It isn't the slam dunk you think it is.
yulia (MO)
You forget to add to the list of DeSantis faults:4) to force women to give birth, 5) to ban the books from the school libraries 6) to take away the hiring decisions from the University Presidents, and give it to the boards with his appointees.
Patricia (California)
@Oli, except that none of your points against California are true. 1. Pro-life clinics don't have to advertise abortions. They have to list their services (i.e., not pretend to give abortions). 2. There was no attempt to restrict worship during Covid. The same restrictions applied to all social gatherings, religious or not. 3. California doesn't require churches (or any other organization) to cover abortion. That's pure propaganda. 4. It's perfectly reasonable for states to put limits on state-funded travel. 5. The University of California (faculty and board, not the state) is requiring applicants for faculty positions to write a statement of their beliefs about diversity. This is controversial and may not last long, but it isn't Newsom's decision. 6 Daleidan is being prosecuted for felony invasion of privacy for posing as an employee of a fake biomedical charity in order to deceive representatives of Planned Parenthood. Btw, his interview established that PP does NOT sell fetal tissue. 7. California does NOT prosecute Covid misinformation. There's a bill under consideration that would allow medical boards to discipline doctors who spread Covid myths. It's controversial.
Koala (Australia)
What I like about Ross Douthat's articles is that he makes extraordinary efforts to look through the enraging hostilities to seek resolutions and a resulting, workable decency. I think he does at times successfully find these, or hedges closely to them, unusually. This is good: "Alternatively the working-out of conflict could yield an unexpected synthesis, perhaps via a partisan leader who can pivot to statesmanship when the opportunity arises." There's a lot of President Biden in that. Upon becoming president Joe Biden stablized the country in that manner. A monumental achievement that because of its quick success the country shunted into its ongoing duality battles without a second thought. Had he failed, the country would have sunk just as quickly. Conservatives benefit from this (a Republican-owned country would fight itself to death and is not the conservative utopia, or even the workability, it deigns itself to represent) and headstrong conservatives diminish themselves by not acknowledging it. In stating it, Ross could have benefited his argument by doing so. Where that quotation points invokes a proposition to factor in: This DeSantis will be a different persona from the one who stands at the podium of actual nomination. He's in the attention-grabbing stage; ripping into Trump's electorate. When the nomination grip is on, to be elected he must reform for wider appeal: the "statesman". That's when he'll be most dangerous, the "synthesis" very deeply challenging.
Wayne (Rhode Island)
Good point. The difference is that Biden, and notably Teagan and others used religion for them selves, not shoving a crucifix down peoples throats do they can't talk as well as can't think. What is important for Democrats to point out is the Separation of Church and State does not only preserve the government and independent innovative thought, it protects religion from those who would use religion only for power. Though I dislike the expression "It's so Christian of him", you can't say that of the GOP
Koala (Australia)
@Wayne Would that the GOP had the spiritual strength to see that, or any spiritual strength at all. (Liz Cheney is onto something deep within that Party, private internal conversations and brewing development that, I think, she's slowly readying the public to receive.)
Matt M (Courtenay, BC)
Since the the 1970s, anti-abortion activists have committed 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 956 threats of harm. They have bombed 42 abortion clinics, & set 192 on fire: No equivalency there.
Anita (Pittsburgh)
@Matt M I’m betting that’s an incomplete list, too.
Ann (Dallas)
Cry me a river for the anti-abortion protesters. They are awful. In my morning commute to work I used to ride my bike by them (clinic's shut down now), and every Tuesday they had gory disgusting pictures, which couldn't possibly have been authentic (how'd they get the consent forms?). An elementary school was blocks away!! When I confronted them that the pictures were giving little kids nightmares, they lied--"I'm sorry you killed your baby," "you don't care about children". Unbelievable. No sense of responsibility for anything they said or did. Completely shameless and inveterate liars. And don't you think the history of bombings and doctor executions puts these people on the FBI's radar? How many people has "Jane's Revenge" murdered in cold blood? The anti-abortionists are domestic terrorists killers.
Koala (Australia)
"But it’s not simply a failure to commit to liberal ideals that creates the current escalatory dynamic. It’s the fact that liberalism as a system historically relies for peace, common ground and understanding on certain forms of moral consensus, even religious consensus, that its thinned-out proceduralism struggles to generate by itself." Pretty full-on statements there. It came across to me as the crux of Ross's point making. There's a lot to dislike about it, and more than meets the eye that I think holds some value. It would help if someone could please explain what "proceduralism" is. In contention is that liberalism seeks "peace, common ground and understanding." Firstly, I would have thought that most people do that, with few exceptions, to their varying degrees and at their fundamental best, not that it's the liberal's sole prerogative (in placing that it butts up against extreme partisanship which tends to deny conservatives the same decency). Why Ross has weighted that prerogative on liberals strikes as rather strange. Secondly, I don't think it captures the essential liberal ethos which is to allow for the expansiveness of human need and expression, which by that nature accepts there'll be disagreements and, like this, contention. People are like that. Liberals accept it. (That would explain why Ross sees it as not "generating peace etc. by itself".) Ross I don't think has caught 'liberalism' in this piece; hasn't got inside it. Heartening that he's looking.
Casual Observer (Los Angeles)
The people who are most active in trying to intimidate people of opposing views both believe that they are entitled to do so because their beliefs are true and their opposites are lies. It's a denial of the rights of others to hold opposite beliefs based upon their sincerely held convictions, their freedom of conscience. It's just this kind of thing that resulted in the horrific wars of religion in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries that led to the principles of tolerance underlying all of our rights as individuals. It is just these same rights that these extremists are trying to take from all of us.
John (Carpinteria, CA)
California did not limit religious gatherings during the pandemic any more than it limited other types of large gatherings. It was trying to protect the public from a deadly virus. Churches defied this, often gathering maskless, and sued to get the restrictions lifted. SCOTUS then ruled in their favor, giving religious organizations a special privilege that no other gatherings had -- one that endangered the public. Pro-life? Not so much. This is just one example of the false equivalency that runs throughout this column.
Casual Observer (Los Angeles)
@John The social distancing was to inhibit the spread of viral infections which could overwhelm the medical care resources of the entire country. The SCOTUS ruling was an example of a failure of reason, that the religious beliefs denying scientific facts amounted to magical thinking.
Mac (Everywhere)
Yes, Ross. Everyone is out to get you. Poor, poor, persecuted religious conservatives. (eye roll)
Robert (Germany)
Get over yourselves, Ross. Catholics and evangelical Protestants are not victims. And based upon the Republican Party's holier-than-thou embrace of religion, you're also the furthest thing from Christians in the traditional sense of the religion. Not a lot of compassion to be seen. And if you feel intimidated by the backlash against the revocation of Roe v. Wade, then stop shoving your religion down other people's throat and up their wombs. Sane people got sick of Salem, too.
NUB (Los Angeles)
Ridiculous example of the art of false equivalency. Sure, there are leftist and progressives who go too far, who speak stupidly, who forget Constitutional limits. A few have committed crimes, and no Democratic leader has defended that. Leftist extremists have not taken over a major political party. In contrast, a majority of Republicans accept the Big Lie; there is nothing comparable among progressives. The left did not adopt lying as an art form; the left did not send an armed mob into the halls of Congress to prevent the conclusion of an election; the left never claimed a fraud took place with zero evidence presented in over 60 court challenges; the left did not cozy up to a Russian tyrant with ICBM’s pointed at the US; the left did not stall Garland Merrick for 11 months, yet rammed Amy Barrett onto the Supreme Court in 3 weeks; the left has not somehow decided that originalist Constitutional review means freedom of religion for Christian fundamentalists takes priority over the rest of the Bill of Rights. Again, the left has said foolish things and acted in dumb ways from time to time (see AOC and the rest of the Squad), but no honest assessment would call their foibles comparable to the predations of the MAGA Republicans. Imagine 2 kids being called in for dinner. One has dirty hands and face, and Mom tells him to wash up. The other has jumped into a cesspool, and Dad has to wash him off with the garden hose. Cesspool kid is the MAGA Republican Party.
Casual Observer (Los Angeles)
Both Newsom and DeSantis are pandering to the extremes in each party, the people who want to force all others to live by their preferences, targeting both individual liberties and liberal democracy as obstructions to their ideal societies. It's tiresome to watch how passionate and arrogant both of them act. I vote Democratic and so if forced to choose between them, I would vote for Newsom. But he and DeSantis both represent efforts to make the country more authoritarian, and in the name of their separate versions of morality which infringe upon freedom of conscience. We are rapidly moving for various reasons away from a republic that respects the consent of the governed to one where some dominant group decides how all will live their lives.
Red State Blue Woman (Pacific NW)
Once again, the conservative author makes false equivalencies between civil rights and the "right" of a business of religion to operate during a world wide health emergency. And once again, no evidence of the equivalency is given other than emotional statements. Instead we are told if we don't accept these false equivalencies, we are aiding the radicalization of right wing Americans. I would think the NYT would demand better of their oped writers but maybe essays like these do serve a purpose. They show us how shallow conservative scholarship is these days.
mt (chicago)
@Red State Blue Woman indeed conservative scholarship seems a bit of an oxymoron
SuzanneRinPhilly (PA)
It’s not pro-life. Geesh. Enough. Let’s smarten up with our language and use a term that actually lands with a punch and is more truthful: it’s Forced Birth
Roberta Ross (New York)
@SuzanneRinPhilly Thank you
Chris (USA)
I'm an independent, and I have lived in both FL and CA under the current governors. I'll take DeSantis' sometimes flawed version of freedom over Newsom's always intolerant political orthodoxy any day. The irony is that CA liberals tend to think of themselves as free thinkers. They just all happen to think exactly alike. And woe upon you if you dare think otherwise.
@Chris - You're not an independent if you typecast CA residents as "Liberals;" CA is a big state, with plenty of Conservative voters. The inland areas of the state, which comprise the geographic majority of the state, are all Conservative; all you have to do is to look at the party affiliations of the Congressional representatives elected in those areas. It's not rocket science. And if you dishonestly contrast a person (Newsom) who says abortion should be between a woman and her MD with a (nasty) authoritarian (DeSantis), you are clearly in favor of the authoritarian...who won't relinquish power if he gains it. Don't insult us, and stop fooling yourself. You're a Republican who dislikes Californians "just because." *I* lived in California under both Democratic and Republican Governors. And Florida is a Conservative enclave. You must love Dr. Oz; he said yesterday he thinks abortion should be between a woman, her Doctor...and LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS. Are you comfortable with your local elected official opining on whether you have a vasectomy? I thought not. As for Mr. Douhat's column, he seldom fails to reduce things to their most naïve "conclusion."
Patricia (California)
@Chris, please---and MAGA Republicans like DeSantis don't think exactly alike? Can you give us an example where your freedom of speech was oppressed in California?
yulia (MO)
To force women to have babies and. to ban books from schools is your idea of freedom?
George Gallop (expat Voter) (Hants, UK)
Ok Ross, My heart just bleeds for the aggrieved anti-Choice demonstrators. After all, they haven’t yet fully impinged upon the individual moral, economic, health-related or other preferences of the majority of Americans, those who believe abortion to be a matter between a woman and bodily autonomy. The sanctimoniousness and haughty righteousness of self-identified ‘pro-lifers’ is yet another example of emerging minority rule in America. These bitter clingers have been harnessed and coddled by GOP leaders who practice none, or very few, of the principles they profess. They have provided us with observable in action evidence that they will have their way no matter the rights of the majority and will fight regardless of consequence to hold onto rule. Whether by deception and hypocrisy or when needed, by conspiratorial sedition and the rejection of peaceful transfer of powers. No Ross, they christo- fascist right is not getting an raw deal because of law enforcement. They just cannot bear the idea of not controlling another’s choices.
Liber (NY)
@George Gallop (expat Voter) : Well construed,A counterpoint to Mr.Douthat,'s opinion column.
Alan White (Toronto)
Interesting to hear about the attacks on those opposed to abortion. Over the last 50 years I feel like I only heard of bombings and burnings of abortion clinics, assaults on people going in and out of abortion clinics (often leading to restraining orders) and the murders or attempted murder of doctors involved in abortions.
Margaret (CA)
As California gets ready to eclipse Germany to become the world's 4th largest economy, one begins to wonder why we need a De Santis vs Newsom polarity. Maybe California can keep it's progressive politics and begin the slow process of disentangling itself from the nation. I'm not even a Newsom fan, but even so. It's exhausting being so economically sound and being constantly battered by the ridiculous vagaries of national politics. Maybe it's not CA vs FL, but CA seeing itself out.
Bob Chegamos (New York)
@Margaret as a separate country their mascot could be the wildfire.
Patricia (California)
@Margaret, I understand your frustration, but that's a pipe dream. I, and I think most Californians, wouldn't support it.
Jim K (Upstate NY)
From this article: "The reality that a sprawling empire of 300 million cannot be governed the way one would a deep-blue or red state will become more apparent the more intensely America’s different factions fight, until the current peak of culture war yields to a somewhat exhausted peace — with federalist solutions, acceptance of pluralism and difference, a recognition that we can remain one country with, say, varying abortion laws." Leaders of the pro-slavery states thought along similar lines. They argued that the free states (the non-slave-holding states) should recognize and accept the slave states' concept of "pluralism and difference". When that outcome was deemed unobtainable, the slave states seceded from the union and formed their own federalist state. Then they opened fire on Fort Sumter. In 1860, it was the slavery issue. Today, it's the abortion issue. Let us hope that cooler heads prevail in these troubling times.
A Man Without A Country (Palm Springs)
I feel like this essay is deliberate in its obfuscation to justify the harassment by those in power against the vulnerable. I still have not seen evidence provided that a religious person’s rights are violated by protecting a poor black woman from being harassed as she enters a clinic to obtain an abortion, or by saying that a gay couple has every right to get married and choose any business to provide food or decoration for their wedding. What I do see however is that should a business decide it will not serve Catholics, Mr Douthat would lose his mind from apoplexy at the blatant bias and illegality. None of this parsing and dodging.
MJB (Brooklyn)
Which reminds me, Mr. Douthat - my offer still stands. Several months back you wrote a column that the energies that were previously spent on fighting Roe would now be turned to the noble purpose of creating meaningful legislation that promoted families, protected children, and provided robust help to economically vulnerable mothers. I expressed my doubt that this was the case. I haven't known conservatives to be lacking in energy when it came to battling litter boxes in schools, banning books from libraries, or giving guns to anybody who so much as walked near a gun store. That the creation of a pro-family safety net was somehow a bridge too far previously, but was now on the table seemed a stretch. So I offered that we should both but our money where our mouth is and make a friendly wager. If, in one year from our agreement, Republicans have make significant strides towards becoming the party creating important programs for the protection of vulnerable families, I'd vote a straight GOP ticket in every local, state, and national election for the next ten years. If you're wrong, you hang up your pundit hat and, I don't know, leave your family and become a priest of something. What you do after is your call. We can work out the details, but you get the idea. I understand being a columnist is getting all the platform with none of the responsibility, but I think we might have fun with experiment in accountability. Let's shake on this and get started.
faivel1 (NYC)
I wonder how much attention democrats are paying to the GOP promise to cut Medicare and eradicate SS security benefits, it has to be repeated 24/7.
An interpretation (Buffalo NY)
I'm not enthusiastic about either of these two men, but between them I would vote for DeSantis. Most people I know agree on that.
Terence (San Francisco)
@An interpretation I'm not enthisiastic about either of these two men but between them I would vote for Newsom. Most people I know agree on that.
Stephen J (Florida)
@Terence Who are the voters? Illegal immigrants, homeless people, criminals who steal $1000 or less from retailers with impunity, yes that is his voting demographic
Reality Check (Maryland)
A well-written article that finally acknowledges that the left engages in the very same tactics it claims are antithetical to this country and for which it wants the GOP tarred and feathered. The truth is that hypocrisy abounds in both parties and what’s best for the citizens of this country lies firmly in the middle - neither side is able to proclaim the absolute moral high ground. Until there is a realization of this fact, we are all doomed.
Gerard (Dallas)
@Reality Check Unfortunately, the "firmly in the middle" solution on abortion was Roe V. Wade, which the Supreme Religious Court has now swept away.
2manyhorsez (DC area)
@Reality Check Bothsiderism is not an attractive look. Accept the facts...Dems have never claimed "alternative facts" exist. That is the realm of MAGA and Q-anon.
Joe Barnett (Sacramento)
If you want to know who cares about children, look at the infant mortality rate in each state. California has the lowest rate, Florida is higher. California's efforts to get children healthcare should be a model for any state that pretends to care about kids.
Reed Rothchild (Not NYC)
@Joe Barnett Most people, most voters who have health insurance, couldn't care less about an infant mortality statistic.
Stephen J (Florida)
@Joe Barnett Not true, the sheer volume of illegal immigrants skews your mortality rate where California is not the lowest, nice try but not true
PTB76 (NJ)
“the center cannot hold/mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” Authoritarianism lurks in both progressivism as well as the Trumpist Republican far right. The first is tinged with Marxism, with its reference to American evils, disparity in outcomes, and disparity economic distribution; the second with nostalgia for a mythical golden age and return thereto, discomfort with anything that is not culturally white (whatever that is!?) alarms at any challenges to male dominance and persistent anti intellectualism. Both present a clear and present danger to our teetering democracy. The center is under threat, pretty much on life support, at the least in our Congress and Supreme Court. Everyday life under either a Marxist or fascist regime is nearly identical: personal behavior rigidly prescribed and harshly enforced. DeSantis and Newsome both terrify me. So, what strange beast slouches toward this fragile republic and is there anyone left who cares enough to confront it?
Patricia (California)
@PTB76, huh? Newsom isn't even close to being a Marxist. He's pretty centrist on most issues. He supports abortion rights because that's what most California voters support.
Cal (Maine)
IMO just below the surface, "anti abortion" is about hobbling women who dare to try to have a life other than that of a "caretaker". In the US we are supposed to have rights to bodily autonomy. Even a corpse cannot be forced to "donate" organs. If you, as a parent, drive recklessly and cause an accident - you will likely be charged with a crime but you cannot be required to donate your organs/parts thereof, tissues or even blood to keep those you endangered by your illegal actions, alive. This is true regardless of your relationship. To be clear - you may endanger your "born" child's life through illegal behavior - but you cannot be forced to "donate" your body or parts thereof to save their life. And obviously, no one doubts that your "born" child is a person. I don't see how pregnancy is different.
Working mom (San Diego)
@Cal A human fetus is not an organ. It's a wholly separate being, temporarily housed inside another, wholly separate, human being. The only way to defend abortion is to assert that it's ok to end one human life for the benefit of another human life. Not life or death, just benefit.
TL Schull (Alexandria, VA)
@Working mom This has always been the case, throughout history. Have you not noticed we have wars, and state-sanctioned executions? We also have condoned mass starvation and epidemics because it was politically or economically expedient. We have slums and prisons for people to slowly die in. And what is the price to that "wholly separate human being" when it cannot be supported or cared for? There is a Libertarian meme that says "Your freedom ends where in infringes upon the rights of another." Where are the mother's rights? She is a "wholly separate human being" also, is she not?
Rob (San Diego)
@Working mom Except for the abortions where the fetus would endure pain and shortly die? For or against? Where mother of three is lost for the sake of the fetus? For or against? You want a 12 year old incest victim , not for the fetus life, but to benefit your life-you'll feel like a better person and get points from above?
David E (San Francisco)
What a tangle of dangerous fallacy, false equivalence and illogic… the first part of the article clearly stated that somehow the Biden administration which started in 2021 was somehow responsible for going easy on the violence associated with the George Floyd protests in 2020. And that the 75 attacks on pro life organizations (quite unacceptable) is equivalent to the thousands of attacks on abortion infrastructure and practitioners including the new criminalization of even abortion adjacent industries like Uber drivers giving women rides to clinics. Moving on to try to tie the title into the article (emphasis on try) a list of possibly flawed attempts by Newsom to tackle inequality in a single state as compared to desantis making bold statements, stunts and legislation to specifically make national news for division and hate. Mix in a dash of feeble attempt at a solution by saying it will take care of itself and presto, terrible article!
Robert Tichell (Buffalo)
The problem is conservatives want to impose a very specific religious view, that is often divorced from the widely accepted science on others who do not share their religion in a country where we have constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom. Conservative organizations that don't take our tax dollars and provide no public service are not restricted. Conservatives seek to impose their religious view on public resources. News media really should stop using conservative and use Christian nationalists. Inject a little honestly into the conversation since maga republicans have taken over that party and Reagan type conservatism has been dumped in the garbage. There used to be a time when republicans used facts and science /economic theory not religion and fear promotion. Democrats are still using facts and science/economic policy. It's not a both sides issue.
Gerard (Dallas)
@Robert Tichell You're absolutely right. We must remember that religious people in general do not oppose abortion. Even the majority of Christians do not oppose abortion. The anti-abortion fanatics are in fact a relatively small sect of Christianity--small, but loud and violent.
Mercury S (San Francisco)
I try to give Douthat credit when it’s due, but the opening lines of this piece are painfully disingenuous. It’s true that there have been attacks at anti-choice centers since Dobbs. But the reason that it’s not being publicized is that this kind of violence and worse is totally banal against clinics that provide abortions. Planned Parenthood centers get death threats every day. It’s too common to be newsworthy. Now, perhaps the threats and vandalism against anti-choice clinics have increased since Dobbs. That’s very possible. But what he’s describing basically suggests that these anti-choice clinics are now facing a similar level of abuse that pro-choice clinics routinely endure. Douthat here is posing as a mild-mannered truth teller, when he’s one more person spinning his own version of the facts. And this is why I’ve had much more trouble with his columns over the past few years. He’s no longer trying to gently present some uncomfortable truths to the overwhelmingly liberal readership of the NYT (I do agree with him on closing churches during COVID, and I’m an atheist. The US is founded on religious pluralism, and that in turn acknowledges that our religious beliefs, or lack thereof, are of profound importance to most people). His columns increasingly rely on double-speak and false equivalency. I find these pieces much more problematic than the overt hackery of conservatives like Hugh Hewitt.
When will Lefties learn that most hard-working people want to know what you will do for them, not for others? When will Lefties learn that guilt-tripping a guy or gal who drives an F-150 to their construction job will not encourage them to listen to your climate story? When will Lefties learn to speak American, not using a 50-page treatise when a paragraph (not a bumpersticker!) will do? When will Lefties learn that most voters want leaders who reflect the voter's values, not leaders who tell them what their values should be? When will Lefties learn there is a difference between democracy and liberal values? When will Lefties learn the difference between aspirations and reality? When will Lefties decide it is more important to stay and fight than to have a tombstone that says, But I Was Right?
Ansapphire54 (MA)
@HOOZON FIRST after Republicans stop echoing every line their politicians tell them. The Left did not create the issue of climate change scientists did. Trump did not win the election. Liberals have the same values as other Americans. There is no such language called American.
George Gallop (expat Voter) (Hants, UK)
Wow… and I thought the hope of Democracies was that our aspirations can become our shared reality. Guess I’m just a leftie but hey, if all you want in life is to react with fear, resentment and greed… all means be a righty…..
MJB (Brooklyn)
@HOOZON FIRST When will those on the right remember things like health care, social security, and the weekend? When will people on the right learn that leftists will be the first to point out that individual consumer choices probably don't push the needle on climate change, which is why sweeping infrastructure updates are needed? When will the right learn that the language is called English? (Presumably when we have an educational system strong enough that students don't leave daunted by the idea of reading 50 whole pages.) When will the right actually stick to some values so anybody can actually reflect them? When will the right learn to quit immediately trying to choke out democracy the moment they don't like the results it produces? When will the right learn that aspiration is the "dream" part of the American Dream? When will the right learn that they will most likely never learn the answer to what liberals put on their tombstones because the policies their leaders pursue means that folks in Red States have notably lower life expectancy than folks in Blue States?
Robert LaRue (Fountain Hills, AZ)
Mr. Douthat laments Catholic Vote's report of attacks on so-called pro-life supporters, including vandalism and arson, by so-called pro-choice groups. Neither the charges nor the perpetrators are firmly corroborated or identified. Still, any group with a legitimate, lawful point of view should be free to express that view and not be harassed by individuals or groups of any kind. So, Mr. Douthat, please remind your pro-life readers that their members have burned Planned Parenthood facilities and murdered physicians who performed abortions. And these acts are documented,
Susan (Los Angeles)
Reading some of these comments, I am wondering if the problem with our culture wars is related less to politics and more to the fact that Americans can no longer decipher meaning from the written word. I think I read a very different column than many. Ross is simply arguing that state governments on BOTH sides of the political extreme are shutting out many non group-think voters--extremism is not inclusive. Isn't an inclusive government the ideal? If you answer no, then seems to me you are part of the war and not the solution.
yulia (MO)
Was the inclusive Government the solution to the slavery problem? I everything depends what kind of solution you are looking for. That will define if the inclusive Government is problem or solution
Patricia (California)
@Susan, I think you're misreading either the comments or Douthat. Nobody wants extremism. Nobody wants anyone to be excluded, or anyone's rights curtailed. You live in California, so like me you probably realize that Douthat's claims about Newsom are false. I don't think Douthat is arguing for inclusivity. I think he's arguing for the status quo on abortion, which is anything but respectful toward the rights of others.
Michael Toth (Akron, OH)
I applaud Mr. Douthat for pulling back from bare knuckles partisanism and taking a broader, more balanced critique of American political polarization. The recognition that Conservatives have adopted extreme positions that harm their political opponents has been a long time coming. Such balance adds credence to his criticisms of far left liberals that has been lacking in his more partisan writings that are often filled with hollow what-about-isms. We can only hope that he will build on this approach and finally offer greater insight into the current political malaise.
Maria P (Alameda, CA)
I think the French example of CA requiring pro-life pregnancy crisis centers is a misstatement of what the law actually was, which is to say that they were required to admit and publicly post that they are NOT healthcare or abortion providers in a bunch of languages. That seems like an obvious consumer protection regulation, not a free speech issue. They often present themselves as if they are abortion providers and then mislead people who go in for abortion services.
Grittenhouse (Philadelphia, PA)
An either/or dialogue is what the media constantly pushes forward, which is both unnatural and unrealistic.
Greg (Ft Pierce)
Oh Puleeze! Get over yourself!
Scroop Moth (Cheneyville)
Ross should find comfort in the fact that panels of jurors in every town in America weigh the evidence in criminal cases and without stumbling over doubts about whether murder, assault, burglary, fraud or theft are right or wrong. We still share the virtually universal moral intuition that killing a small child is murder. Red States now have the authority to prosecute abortion doctors for the “murder” of a fetus, which brings up something else we all have in common here: There’s not a jury in any town in America that wouldn’t likely deadlock in a mistrial in such a case. Ross would have no solution to the problem of jury nullification except for something else that we enjoy in common. There’s a church in every town in America where believers are free to disseminate the religious intuition that the human fetus is a person and abortion is therefore murder.
Patricia Houston (Long Beach CA)
Since the people who pass such laws are all elected officials I think it's completely possible that there would be juries that would convict. Why else would potential jurors have voted for those politicians? They campaigned on promises to enact those laws.
Steven B (CA)
Give me a break! You write about the tendency of any ideology in power to find excuses... but you fail to note the tendency to promote false equivalence and 3rd-graeder "whataboutism". But I wouldn't expect you to point that out because that tendency is the basis for your entire column.
B Tate G (San Rafael, CA)
My God, the chutzpah of a conservative in 2022 attempting to hang the quote "There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect" on progressives. The very life force of your movement at this point centers around creating an alternative reality that mushrooms endlessly in its baroqueness, all to protect its Godhead from any form of accountability.
free range (upstate)
Both Newsom and DeSantis are shameless self-aggrandizers but for different reasons. Newsom's hard line enforcement of laws forcing children to be inoculated with mRNA vaccines and removing the right of doctors to treat their patients as they see fit is medical fascism. DeSantis is correct when -- given the fact that the mRNA vaccines are neither safe nor effective (as the CDC recently admits) -- he stands for removal of medical apartheid, vaccine mandates and lockdowns, none of which worked. But on the other hand, DeSantis' record on civil rights, voting rights, help for the poor and the environment is atrocious. Don't vote for either of these empty careerists!
Ann Meyer (New Mexico)
Your ‘facts’ about mRNA vaccines are scientifically wrong. But you are correct about desantis.
MD Boston (MA)
The vaccines are safe and effective (at preventing death, not infection). Read the cdc website yourself, as well as the many articles published on the matter (which i have). Please show us where you got your info
Patricia (California)
@free range, your information is wrong. There is no mandate for Covid vaccinations for schoolchildren in California, although a mandate has been under discussion and may eventually be implemented. There are other required childhood vaccinations to enter school, although it's hardly medical fascism. They exist in every state, not just California. The mRNA vaccines are both safe and effective, according to the CDC:
Dimitri (Los Angeles)
This is what passes for “intellectual conservatism”? Purposely misquoting a composer from a political science blog to make a tortured argument as to why liberalism is untenable?
Chris (Huntsville)
"There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.” In other words, under progressive rule, abortion clinics get the law’s protection while racial-justice protesters aren’t bound by its requirements; meanwhile religious conservatives get to fear F.B.I. agents on their doorsteps while crimes against their own institutions go conspicuously unsolved." Oh, please...
Lindsay Thompson (Chester SC)
If you were being honest, you'd do another column dealing with the Right's endless and escalating attacks on LGBT Americans. As a thought experiment, imagine your marriage hung on a vote of the Supreme Court.
Charles Becker (Politically Non-binary)
@Lindsay Thompson, My marriage does not depend on a vote of the Supreme Court. No marriage does. If you need a piece of paper from the government to prove a relationship, you're in a contract, not a marriage.
Veronica (Chicago)
That ignores the fact that there are legal and financial benefits to legal marriage in addition to the existence of a “spiritual” marriage.
Ansapphire54 (MA)
@Charles Becker history tells us that’s not true. Only because of Loving v Virginia interracial marriage is legal across the country. Also gay marriages are legal because of a Supreme Court. Until these decisions only straight marriages were legal.
MC Anastasiou (Northfork LI)
It’s plainly obvious that religion for Ross is a selfish, self serving intersection in achieving whatever so called conservatives want. If he had any spiritual faith at all, once in a blue moon, he would advocate for helping all the children born into extreme poverty.
@MC Anastasiou A right-wing religious zealot advocating for children in poverty? Not unless it enriches his pockets - like all Republicans.
Numas (Sugar Land, TX)
" terrorist organization..." And after this, I rapidly scanned the rest of the opinion, and found that so-called "pro-life" attackers were just "government victims". I am not going to fall in the trap of calling for this guy to be banned from the NYT, but I would like him to consider that what we need is dialog and exchange of ideas, not this inflammatory garbage.
JDK (Chicago)
Newsome is a spineless woke-liberal who has proven himself incapable of reasonable governance of California. See the homeless crisis in the major cities in his state. Why on Earth would we want him on the national stage?
RM (Worcester)
@JDK Ditto! People in CA are struggling to bring foods on the table vs. meds they need or a place to stay. The State had over $100 billion budget surplus. Rather than addressing homeless (median home cost over $800,000), crime, highest State income tax, gas price, bloated government, water and wild fire crisis and saving some for a rainy day fund, he used the money to fund his unsustainable pet projects (one example- free healthcare for undocumented which the citizens are deprived of). His goal is to drive out the middle class so that only people with nothing and millionaires like him can live in CA. Hundreds of corporations have left. Clueless Newsom does not even know who is going to fund his clueless initiatives once the middle class taxpayers are driven out. Contrary to his label as “environmentalist”, he has done almost nothing to build infrastructure for public transportation in the State. He is a joke! Talk is cheap- walk is tough.
Patricia (California)
@RM, I love it that the most passionate opinions about California come from people living in other states who have probably never visited. California seems to have become the bogeyman for Fox News and its viewers. Come and visit. It's a beautiful state.
Andrea (NorCal)
Are you sure you're talking about California? I live in California and your rant doesn't match reality at all. I live in a nice comfortable middle class neighborhood full of people who are also quite happy to here. Young couples are buying houses around mine and three new cutting-edge industries are set to open in my small town. Gavin Newsom will be easily re-elected and any initiatives are put on the ballot by California citizens themselves. Mellow out dude!
Leon (Florida)
De Santis is like an Elvis Impersonator, only that he is a Trump Impersonator, a man with no ideas of his own, with no plans for Florida. He only knows how to insult people, be it children wearing masks, teachers or College Students and to hurt the poor and disadvantaged, be it it American Citizens or immigrants. His record as Governor is pathetic and his appearance in white dairy man boots during the hurricane utterly ridiculous.
Stephen J (Florida)
@Leon Not true, the state is flourishing, no wild protests like they had in Minnesota, Portland, Philadelphia, He is a leader, and educated leader, who makes decisions that are good for citizens with common sense. There are thousands relocating here each week who are tired of the woke and progressive nonsense. He has been extremely successful and is winning the Governor’s race by a landslide, those are facts
Edward (Wichita, KS)
Tell you what, Ross. Dr. George Tiller was medical director of Women's Health Services here in Wichita. A Christian Anti-Choice fanatic shot him in the head on a Sunday morning while Dr. Tiller was serving as an usher in his church. When an atheist Pro-Choice fanatic does something similar, we can talk. Until then, this column is just more grievance about how put upon poor right wing "Christians" are. It's so unfair...
Benjamin Greco (Belleville, NJ)
Here is another alternative to Douthat's prescriptions. It is an excellent article by Michael Lind in the Tablet.
Ellis6 (Sequim, WA)
Ross Douthat -- the king of false equivalence.
CJ (Greenfield. MA)
Please let me know the names of state and federal agencies that have issued “prohibitions on state-sponsored travel to other states deemed too hostile to gay rights.”
Networthy (Everywhere)
The State of California prohibits state-sponsored travel to other states deemed too hostile to gay rights.
@CJ the entire state of CA. Any government agency here. Look it up yourself.
Paul (Colorado)
Douthat knows his audience and is doing little more here than trolling liberals with anecdotes, whataboutisms, and quips ("bound but not protected"). Why not use actual data and evidence to argue a case? If your contention is that liberal politicians are targeting conservatives and pro-lifers, why not present FBI statistics, DOJ data or arrest and conviction rates? If you want to pose abortion or puberty-blocking procedures as open questions for debate, why not inform those questions with medical science or physicians standards of practice? Instead, Ross puts a big L or C on everyone's forehead and keeps score with talking points one could find on any conservative website.
Bob G. (San Francisco)
I am thankful for Gavin Newsom. The Democrats need to start giving as good as they're getting. Red state voters need to hear that there is another side to the lies they've been fed. Go Gavin!
John (Vermont)
Douthat calls attention to the "75 attacks on pro-life organizations around the country" but they are nothing compared to the murder, assassination, and bombing that woman's health centers suffered with Pres. Reagan's tacit (and sometimes vocal) encouragement. I would ask Douthat to compare the stats. Secondly, as much as Douthat clearly lusts for a DeSantis presidency, we can all acknowledge that DeSantis -- who is as petty and vindictive as Trump, with an anti-gay mean streak to boot -- would be a disaster for the US. Newsom is a moderate, Mandarin class politician, who has successfully run California (as Reagan claimed he did) and Newsom would level-set this country for at least 4 years, if not 8; we'd be better off for Newson's leadership.
Anne (California)
"we can remain one country with, say, varying abortion laws." If we can do that, we can remain one country without such laws. Instead of having various groups of politicians make various, different, conflicting decisions about abortion, individual women can do so for themselves. The anti-abortion movement will never be satisfied with varying abortion laws, they will continue to fight to control women's bodies and dictate their beliefs to people who don't share them everywhere they can.
Laurie Maldonado (Sonora, CA)
Third generation solid centrist Californian. The problem is our state government Motto: “Ideas so good they have to become mandatory.” Used to be California conservatives offered fiscal restraint and social liberalism through tolerance, and they captured big swaths. Hence Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now we have Kevin McCarthy. There is no home for the sane center right now. But trust me. Our governor will make some sharp turns in a national contest. And so will DeSantis.
Anne (California)
@Laurie Maldonado this is not just a California problem, there is no room for a sane center in GOP politics anywhere in the US. The sane center folks are being expelled from the party.
Robert (Around)
Factually the right to life movement has been terrorsitic in nature for decades. Violence, intimidation and murder have all been their tactics so no real sympathy. Efforts to restrict group gatherings during the pandemic were rational steps to slow the spread of a highly contagious airborne virus. As a Jew, secular these days, we have no need of a Temple to pray. Nor does any Christian based on at least Martin Luther's view. Even the Pope supported common sense efforts. In fact DeSantis mirrors someone like Huey Long and there is no comparison with CA or Newsom. However, the right should realize that trying to do nationally what DeSantis is doing in Florida will simply result in real civil conflict as many of, the real silent majority, will not tolerate authoritarianism.
Colin S. (Nebraska)
@Robert I think you kind of missed the point of the article.
Robert (Seattle)
Sam Alito complains that the leak of his Dobbs draft put the lives of the Supreme Court majority at risk. That would be the same Dobbs ruling that puts the rights, lives, wellbeing and prospects of millions of American women at risk. In other news of the same flavor and quality as we find here, pertaining to the same topic.
Robbiesimon (Washington)
@Robert Great point! Obviously the lives of the “justices” matter but the lives of ordinary women and girls don’t.
@Robert Yes, a great point. Women and girls don't matter - only the precious lives of six SC members.
Mary Sweeney (Trumansburg, NY)
I find Ross's contention that the left lacks vision to be wildly disingenuous. While the left is certainly not perfect, it most definitely has a vision: it strives for a world in which all people are treated with respect, the environment is treated with respect, and we help those who need help. The right has a vision too, in which money matters more than anything else, it's okay to trash the environment and ruin the future to pile up cash now, and it's also okay to use rugged individualism as an excuse for your cruelty and then shamelessly ask for aid when you need it even though you refused to give aid to others when they needed it (precisely DeSantis's approach). Guess which vision is closer to that encouraged by Christianity. It really seems as if most of Douthat's writing is really about his own internal struggle to try to live with the mismatch between his conservatism and the spirit of the New Testament in which he supposedly believes.
P (MI)
@Mary Sweeney I find your connection that the left's vision for all in the world to be treated with respect to be disingenuous. And I'm on the left. Our party knows know bounds with the contempt we exhibit for people who disagree. You're part of the utopia if you buy in - that's the message we send with our actions. And if you don't, you're barely human. Until that gets sorted out...well, let's just hope it does before it's too late.
A Man Without A Country (Palm Springs)
John (PA)
Given Russia’s clear goal of undermining our democracy it would seem quite likely that Jane’s Revenge, if it is even real, is funded by them. That is the angle the FBI should be investigating.
An interpretation (Buffalo NY)
Russia is a distraction that can barely handle Ukraine. China is far and away the greater emergent adversary. Pumping fentanyl into our country. I hope our government has a plan to contend with China. You know the CCP is powerful when even a mere mention of them is often censored.
Truth (Hurts)
Doctors who provide misinformation about COVID should absolutely be stripped of their medical licenses. Facts are facts, and ivermectin/hydroxychloroquine are fake treatments for a serious illness. If doctors can't fathom the legitimacy of vaccines and the science/data behind them, they should not be doctors. Seems like common sense.
Dan (NJ)
Ugh, yes, Ross. Biden is going easy on people who terrorize pro-life centers, just letting 'em walk away because he's sympathetic, but rounding up pro-life protesters in a vicious political vendetta. I'm going out on a limb here that Houck was arrested for shoving an abortion clinic volunteer more than a year ago because it was... more than a year ago. The "Jane's Revenge" people, per your retelling, did similar stuff in the past few months, so haven't been arrested yet (if they've been identified individually at all). I'm not a detective, and I'm not familiar with any of the stories you're referencing here, but it seems like we should look at the clues before publishing the case. Maybe they could hold up under scrutiny but if so, you should tell them more carefully.
Anne (California)
@Dan it's a very slanted description of events. He was just protecting his 12-year old son from verbal harassment - OK, but what did he bring his son to the clinic to do? Verbally harass women and the volunteers protecting them? Apparently he's been going there for years and doing exactly that. Reading between the lines, they can dish it out but they can't take it.
d ross (oakland)
Ross has been reduced to repeatedly arguing that we need to react to conservatives perceptions of victimization. Inevitably, he has now claimed that victimization and demands that we respond.
Geoff (California)
For all Mr. Douthat's artful sophistry, false equivalencies and knotty logic, all I can gather as the point from this latest attempt to needle progressive thinkers and ideas, is that one size does not fit all. Agreed, but what is the proposition to address civil arguments that spill over into violent conflict when one side refuses to abide by the laws of the land.
`French’s examples include attempts to force pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise abortion' A clue that Ross is lying here. There may be a rule requiring such clinics to stop LYING about offering reproductive health care when all they do is speak out against abortion and send women on their way . They don't have the medical personnel to help women who want to continue pregnancy. They are not actually offering medical care, so they shouldn't advertise as a 'pregnancy center'.
Anne (California)
@LK There was a law, which was struck down by the Supreme Court, that would have required these crisis pregnancy centers to advise women that there were abortion services available elsewhere. Advertise is maybe not the right word but the story is correct.
yulia (MO)
How the story is correct if the word is wrong? the pro- life centers were not requir to advertized, but merely inform the women about all her options.
Kevin Hancock (Harrisburg, PA)
Yeah, two straight white guys. A real culture war there.
shadowlark (san josé)
@Kevin Hancock Is Gavin Newsom culturally/politically closer to Stacey Abrams or Ron DeSantis? "Culture" is here used in a very politicized or ideological way, in which differences of ethnicity and gender have less sway than they may appear to.
Ampleforth (Airstrip One)
@Kevin Hancock 99 percent of the conservatives I know would take a Supreme Court made up of Maurtanian-Laotian-African American LGBTQ long as they were also conservative. Only the left gives a hoot about skin color etc
yulia (MO)
You are right - they don't care about race of justices, as long as they support the white supremacy
Metaphysically Yours (North of the Vermont border)
I grew up in a Roman Catholic Theocracy and at 74 I am still outraged by the corruption that still remain here in Quebec 60 years after the beginning of the Liberal Democratic Revolution. I went to Protestant School where we studied the "Liberal Puritan" John Milton who wrote Paradise Lost. We were taught t'is better to serve in Heaven than Rule in Hell something Rome hasn't learned in over 2000 years. The Bible like all our ancient literature is neither history nor prophecy it is based solely on ancient understandings of the universe. I remember the ghettos of Quebec and its hierarchies based solely on the hierarchy of your parents. That is Douthat's realm and I find it offensive not only to myself but to making this a fairer and more just world in the future.
GBR (The Northeast)
Dear Ross, If you believe that government - state or federal - may force a woman to use her own internal organs to support and extend another human life ( the fetus), then you must also believe that government may force a person of either sex to use their own internal organs to support and extend another human life ( a person in need of an organ transplant through no fault of their own.) If you believe the former but not the latter, then it’s misogyny pure and simple.
Chris (Huntsville)
@GBR Excellent!
Tryingtobemoderate (Seattle)
@GBR I guarantee he is not on the national kidney transplant list. Does he believe that he should be forced to give a kidney if he is a match. No. However, women are incubators. It's astonishing.
Gene G (Palm Desert CA)
I live in California. So, I'll opine on Newsom from a very informed, first hand standpoint. I'll refrain from opining on DeSantis. I don't live in Florida; have no first hand knowledge, and I don't rely upon left wing or right wing media, as the case may be, for unbiased information. No matter what Newsom has done, or failed to do, I can never forgive him for his devastating exploitation of California schoolchildren, already suffering from one of the worst educational system in the country. Here's a factual chronology . In early summer of 2020, Newsom vowed to reopen public schools which had been closed because of the pandemic. Then, Trump, in his usual bombastic manner, publicly demanded that schools reopen. An official of the teachers union in California reacted by childishly saying they would not be "bullied'" by Trump. The same teachers union has donated millions to Newsom. I guess they got Newsom's ear, because shortly thereafter he changed his stance and decided to keep schools closed (note: his kids went to private schools which did reopen). So, for politics and money, the schoolchildren of California were sacrificed. Then, to compound this atrocity, California was among the last states to reopen schools. Can anyone seriously believe that Newsom had the best interests of children, or that, he even among other Democratic governors, was the only one acting with responsibility ? What he did to those children was pure evil. I can never forget nor forgive his actions.
Laurie Maldonado (Sonora, CA)
You are right. But as a California public school teacher for 30 years, now retired, I think few governors relish crossing the teacher union. We are big whiners with sizeable election clout. Not saying it’s right at all. It is absolutely not. The schools should have opened. But it’s political survival probably.
Chris (Huntsville)
@Gene G Seriously? If that's the worst that ever happens to kids here, they've got it made... The pandemic was not the worst thing that could ever happen to school children in this country. Think: Ukraine. Or any other country that's constantly at war. They'll get over it.
Jamie (Pennsylvania)
@Gene G So you have no "first-hand" knowledge of DeSantis's actions. Nice dodge. I suppose you DO have first-hand knowledge of everything Newsome did; you were right on the scene for every executive order, every stroke of the pen. So unless you were actually there, I'm sure you relied on someone's reporting for your "very informed" viewpoint. Perhaps you could consult similar sources and make us the beneficiary of your views of DeSantis. On second thought, don't -- I think we can easily surmise what they are.
Dan (NJ)
This is a hollow attempt at making this a "both sides are equally bad" issue. I don't think it's equitable to compare prosecutions over blocking an abortion clinic, to the prosecutions in Florida of ex-convict voters who were told they could vote and then targeted for some small-print caveats because "voter fraud!"
shadowlark (san josé)
@Dan I'd say it's more like a "don't pretend your preferred team is above reproach" argument. Overall, Douthat is of course more amenable to right/center-right-leaning views, but he is making his case to readers that are likely to dismiss his arguments because of his real or perceived perspective, or employ convenient comparisons as if they illuminate the whole issue and resolve the question beyond any fair dispute.
Stanley Butler (New Mexico)
I would love to see Newsom versus DeSantis. I think that DeSantis is going to self-destruct long before Newsom gets around to running for President. DeSantis is doing his best even now to lose in Florida in a couple of weeks. He might even get indicted for kidnapping immigrants.
Stephen J (Florida)
@Stanley Butler He is winning in a landslide. Indicted? The Democrats will try some slickness in a year once he announces his candidacy. The Democrats love to impeach and or criminally investigate the political opponent, ie Chris Christie and jow Trump
Diane (San Francisco)
Wilhoit’s formulation. Sounds very Inquisition-al. Yes, in fact Catholics promoted this very idea at one time, lethally. Now Douthat ascribes it to “progressives”, who he thinks need theology (his?, Christian?) to follow the golden rule. The radical right has been promoting discord (for votes) - racial, ethnic, and now “liberals” - for many years. Douthat likes to continue that while claiming “balance”.
Jason (Los Angeles)
The comments on NYT skew far to the right when the topic is immigration, and far to the left when the topic is who is worse, Democrats or Republicans? Because in both instances, one sides recognize they have the harder argument, and stay away?
spud (NC)
Twelve words in and the word Catholic is used in support of an argument, as if their count or referencing of anything would be unbiased or credible.
Jim (The Desert)
@spud frankly that word should disqualify anything said thereafter from being considered valid. I would sincerely like "anti-Catholic" to become a movement.
Frank Knarf (Idaho)
Ross is so predictable. He projects his longing for Catholic enforcement of a particular moral and ethical order onto every surface available. How many murders and assaults have the pro-choice advocates committed? How do DeSantis and Newsome compare in their appeals to fear and loathing? Never mind.
John (Chicago)
From Merriam-Webster: “‘Bothsidesing’” refers to the media or public figures giving credence to the other side of a cause, action, or idea to seem fair or only for the sake of argument when the credibility of that side may be unmerited. The term is also used to describe public figures equivocating about a seemingly condemnable action saying that people on both sides are equally responsible for that action.’ Let’s take Mr. Douthat’s example of the prosecution of David Daleiden - the pro-life activist who posed as a Biomax employee to secretly record conversations with PP doctors about donating fetal tissue. The prosecution of Mr. Daleiden is used here as an example of progressive overreach on ideological fault lines, specifically by the State of California (Gov. Gavin Newsom). What Douthat does not mention is that Daleiden admitted to creating “phony ID documents after stealing a password to a real medical company and (downloading) documents from it”. That is why the State of CA is prosecuting him. Also, PRIOR to the State’s pending prosecution of Daleiden on nine felony charges, a FEDERAL JUDGE forbade Daleiden from publishing any more videos because they were ILLEGALLY OBTAINED and were doctored to the point of misrepresentation. When Daleiden and his attorneys ignored this injunction, they were found IN CONTEMPT OF COURT, FINED almost $200,000 and this injunction was UPHELD BY THE NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS by a 3-0 vote. Please, stop the “bothsidesism”.
David M (St. Louis)
Except the arc of history isn't bending "the other way." Clinton won 3 million more votes than Trump and Biden won 7 million more. The structural idiocy of the Electoral College makes it seem otherwise. The Democrats in the House and Senate have collectively more votes than the Republicans. Progressives are winning more voters, but we have a system that blocks the majority from actually accomplishing anything,
Des (Washington Heights)
You fail to mention the age of the man Mark Houck allegedly shoved. He was 72 years old. And yet you felt it was important to mention the 87-year-old who was arrested for blocking the entrance to an abortion clinic. Where's the respect for 70-somethings???
Carolyn (California)
So your solution to the abortion issue is to let each state decide this and other important issues so that we have hollowed out, figurehead national government or one that only deals with international issues? The liberals move to liberal states and the MAGA people to the other states? Or do we have a real war in which the right wing armed to the teeth people who call themselves “patriots” intimidate and shoot the rest of us? We are already there in some respects. I really dont want to go to Texas again, and if I did and spoke out, someone really might pull out their gun and shoot. “Open carry” has two sides. With so many different state laws, it’s already confusing and divisive.
Chris (Huntsville)
@Carolyn Remember when "hecklers" would show up at rallies?? If you went to a "red rally" now and heckled, you could end up in the hospital... It's only allowed if it's Rs piling on a D and the Rs aren't even afraid of it happening--because it doesn't and won't. That's where we're at.
Patricia (California)
@Carolyn, don't let this column fool you. Ross is in favor of no such system. He believes that the Supreme Court will find a fetal right to personhood in the 14th Amendment. He wrote passionately about this a year ago--he was excited about a complete end to abortion in America. Nobody in the anti-abortion movement wants anything but a complete national ban.
bemused (ct.)
Mr. Douthat: I know you're young and still have you're swaddling clothes packed safely away to pass on but, this is barely more than a conspiracy theory. I do know you have been around long enough to remember doctors being assaulted and murdered. Why such a foul act even happened while one doctor was attending church! I suppose we can ignore such zealotry if the victims provided abortion services. These attacks have gone on since Roe was first codified. Was the FBI culpable of supporting these acts by their inability to stop them? Your columns continue on a downward spiral towards complete lack of understanding and intolerance.
Keith (Tucked up against The Cascades)
@bemused No. They haven't. You're not helping. The first documented attack against abortion providers occurred in 1993. To date, there have been 7 confirmed attacks/murders against abortion providers. I don't have an issue with your views, just your facts. If we're going to require the MAGA crowd to accepts and present facts, the same is required of you.
Jamie (Pennsylvania)
@Keith Not quite. The first documented murder of an abortion provider-Dr. David Gunn-happened in 1993. Other attacks-attempted murder, arson, kidnapping, bombing-were happening in the 1970s. And the MAGA crowd won't accept this, any more than they accept that the January 6 violence was committed by Trump supporters and not a false flag operation by BLM or Antifa.
EFh (Louisville)
Let’s all pretend that Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Boogaloo Boys represent no more threat than Antifa. Let’s pretend that climate change deniers base their opinions on science too. Let’s pretend that our elections really may be rigged. We are all sooo tired of your false equivalences. The choice is simple; red lies or blue facts.
Fantastic article. It's insane to read some of these comments and the utter brainwashing the left has undergone. They yell it so loud about the "far-right". Honestly what happened to the happy middle? I don't care if you get an abortion but leave kids alone! You can't take your son to a hetero strip club but you can to a drag brunch? Come on. Everyone is crazy. Let the moderates back in please!
A Man Without A Country (Palm Springs)
Interesting perspective. I for one disagree not only with the articles content, but the rhetorical devices employed in the writing. I do that based on the education I was fortunate enough to receive that taught me how to parse words on a page and explore whether or not they fit facts that are known, or reflect subtle ways the facts are manipulated or partly revealed to make a rhetorical point. I don’t think I do this from brainwashing. But perhaps it is a form of brainwashing to do critical reading? I must say I do not think so.
Chris (Huntsville)
@JH "It's insane to read some of these comments and the utter brainwashing the left has undergone." Let's talk about conspiracy theories. Let's talk about who won the 2020 election. That's brainwashing for you...
Tryingtobemoderate (Seattle)
@JH The men in drag have clothes on. That's drag. Men dressing up as women, with cloths.
J.M. (Issaquah, Washington)
Ross keeps harping on the need for “some overarching vision to sustain solidarity”. Clearly he would prefer the patriarchal Roman Catholic Church, with all its flaws and disrespectful view of women, as that vision. He refuses to recognize that humanism is not only a valid vision, but also a universal one. Further, humanism and democracy are totally compatible, while organized religions are inherently biased towards the views of a small cadre of priests, popes or ministers.
Non Believer (Chicago)
@J.M. "Clearly he would prefer the patriarchal Roman Catholic Church, with all its flaws and disrespectful view of women, as that vision." You forgot to include all the cover-ups for pedophile priests.
Gary (Florida)
Hogwash. Independent here. As a current Florida resident who has voted in elections since 1980, the spectacle of DeSantis is not so easily packaged. His behavior leans authoritarian. He has no interest in the needs of residents unless it serves his position and future political gains. The only reason Florida functions everyday is because money pours in from other states. Retirees and new resident generally come with lots of money, many with cash. Newsflash: Ron DeSantis is not responsible for sunshine and beaches. They were there long before he was born. We are less than a generation away from Florida crashing for many reasons. Ron does little to plan for the future because he doesn't intend to be here. His goals are outside of Florida. Throw on the GOP's plan to mess with Medicare and social security and the impact in Florida will change the demographics further. Yup, a perfect storm is brewing in Florida but GOP residents are so gaga over DeSantis owning the left that they forgot to consider their own interests. I dont see Newsom's actions even in the same league.
CCC (Reston, Virginia)
Next time I'm sick enough to visit the doctor I sure hope my physician has the license and leeway to offer any kind of advice or guidance regarding my health regardless of whether it's correct or not and not be held responsible. Especially when it comes to COVID--COVID is different. There is a dearth of information available from the CDC about the risks and methods of contraction and the possible health outcomes for individuals with compromised immune systems. We have enough boogeymen we have to worry about; a questionable hoax cough cannot be one of them.
Tryingtobemoderate (Seattle)
@CCC You are saying there shouldn't be any laws that restrict a doctor from providing false information to their patient? There was a doctor recently in California that lost his licence because he told his patience that a cocktail of herbal medicines he created cured cancer. After 5 years none of the people that took his "cure" survived. That doctor should not be practicing medicine. If your doctor gives you Ivermectin and says that it will cure or prevent COVID they should lose their licence.
Jim Meskauskas (NYC)
If we are going to preserve this Republic, we’ve got to find some accommodation for granting autonomy over the local establishment and enforcement of community standards while at the same time guarding against the subjugation of fundamental human rights as established by a national legal consensus. The community standards of San Francisco are not the community standards of Opilika, Alabama. But legally established human rights should be the same. It’s the debate about what constitutes a fundamental human right and what are community standards (and what ranks as reasonable methods of enforcement of both) that is part of the process of civic engagement that makes the republic a republic. Or we are aren’t looking at a consensual “e pluribus unum” any more, but a fractious “e pluribus plures.”
Michael Sierchio (Berkeley, CA)
Two doctrinaire, dogmatic, and not-terribly-bright men.
ML (Boston)
And you are still seeing our country in terms of two white men. It's bigger than that.
Brian (Denver)
Oh my god. You take away a woman’s right to their own bodies and they react. You advocate 10 year old rape victims have the child and people react. Shoving religious doctrine down our throats will elicit a strong reaction Russ.
John (California)
Rather live in California than Florida
Charles (Setauket, NY)
Federalism sounds great until you realize the consequences. Some states allow slavery and some don't. Some states allow Black people to vote and some don't. Some states allow some abortions and some don't allow any. Some states allow only Republicans to win office and some allow anyone to win.
Richard (California)
332 million people in the USA and these two are the best we can come up with? Gee Wiz Wally.
Jordan (Portchester)
Newsom will wipe the floor with DeSantis.
Thomas Renner (New York City)
What we need is a federal government that protects people's personal freedom and realizes a business is not a person. The government must also take public safety into account. A woman should have the right to manage her reproductive life and health. People should be allowed to love and marry who they please. Everyone should be allowed to practice whatever religion or no religion they want. We should all be treated the same in every respect.
DC (West of Washington)
@Thomas Renner I would double recommend your comment if it was allowed and I would support any political candidate who articulated these rights as simply as you have. Ty.
AIR (Brooklyn)
You've left out the elephant in the room. What on the liberal side corresponds to the big lie about election fraud? What corresponds to the attack on the capitol ?
NeilDSmith (USA)
Since the release of the Dobb's decision in May, the catholic church has attacked women (and young boys /girls) thousands of times. Maybe the problem isn't poor pregnant women. Maybe the problem is Catholics?
Patricia Houston (Long Beach CA)
No. The problem is Catholic "leadership" and certain Evangelicals. The percentage of pro-choice Catholics and mainstream Protestants is essentially identical to that of the general public.
Robert Roth (NYC)
Poor poor Ross! He get off on unleashing state terror on millions of women and now a bonus trans men as well. He says to them what a gift your pregnancy is. A gift given at the point of a gun. Where have we heard that before. People threatening violence or committing violence and saying I am doing this for your own good. Not accepting his gift, being repelled by his gift he takes as affront comparable to the violence he is advocating for.
Rovingcritic (USA)
The main problem I see here is that these two state leaders govern two of the whackiest, crime ridden and insane states in the country. Florida and /Claifornia don't speak the the vest number of Americans.
Geoff (California)
@Ravingcritic - the vest nimber of 'mericans luv these two staits and visit and move to them them more than any others.
Jake Wagner (Los Angeles)
This is an interesting article. I'm surprised it got past the editorial board. Douthat makes some good points. What he doesn't mention is that illegal immigration was the signature issue of Trump, and is likely to be the signature issue of DeSantis if he runs in 2024. It is here that theory and practice of democracy come into sharpest conflict. According to theory as embodied in the Constitution, immigration laws should be made by Congress through the process of negotiation and compromise. In fact the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were set up precisely with that in mind, negotiation and compromise is a better way of settling grievances that outright war. The Bill of Rights had historical antecedents. William and Mary of England accepted a Bill of Rights which stemmed from the same enlightenment principles. Members of Parliament remember then the bitter Civil War that had divided England. The last immigration bill was passed by Congress in 1986. That makes 36 of NO LEGISLATION on immigration. Democrats have chosen to take nonnegotiable positions based on "moral beliefs." Believing that it is "racist" to oppose open borders, many liberals have declared certain cities "sanctuaries" which are not subject to the laws of Congress. This is an act of treason. And if Democrats persist in this belief that sanctuary cities are morally justified, the only remaining solution is a civil war that will just as bloody as that which plagued England in the 17th century.
Chris (Huntsville)
@Jake Wagner Where have all these Republicans been all these years?? What policies have they enacted to curb or modify immigration, illegal or otherwise, all the years they've been in Congress?? Why does it pop up like something new every time Dems are in the WH??
Y O Ming (Wyoming)
Treason has a very specific definition. What enemy is the Democrat party giving aid & comfort to?
Dennis W (So. California)
Douthat's premise is that we need to protect those who would take away the rights of women to make their own medical decisions based on religious beliefs. I'm not a constitutional scholar, but that seems to run contrary to our founding principals.
ws (köln)
In fact Mr. Douthat is raising the well known double standards - topic but he is not addressing it explicitly as a crucial abstract issue. The problem is the popular American approach to brush off this issue by the "whataboutism" objection as an effective counterattack against all kinds of allegations. It´s surely not. It´s effective when the topics are different - exampl:; "You are late!" - "And what about your dirty car?" - but in contrast to recent American understanding it´s completely uneffective when the allegation is the same allegation - example "You are 10 minutes late!" - "And what about yesterday when I had to wait for you for 2 hours?". This has an effect that goes beyond the classical "tu quoque/unclean hands" argument in the individual case because it can also erode assumed binding effects of rules. The real efficiency of the double-standard-argument is deliberately ignored and denied in current American view and replaced is by the absolute self-confidence that one's own rules are the right ones because one alone embodies the good. This is a self-delusion because rules are to apply generally without regard to the person as it is the natural purpose of rules. The cases Mr. Douthat has enumerated are showing that the factual effectiveness of this argument cannot suppressed ialso in USA. Each side still assures itself that it would work, but in fact it does not because it always takes two to Tango, this means, they have to agree on the same dancing rules.
John Millsap (San Bernadino County)
Are these men the two candidates for the 2024 Presidential election? With an 82 year old Democrat and a 78 year old Republican running, why not?? It's time for the next generation and governors have the most experience as well as challenges.
Kevinlarson (Ottawa Canada)
The Washington Examiner really? Your continued use of source’s such as this not only weakens your argument but points to a shallow intellect.
tanstaafl (Houston)
Would be nice to see Newsom vs De Santis in 2024, but I think we're gonna get Trump vs Biden rematch, great for media ratings, but we need some younger people in Washington.
Cynthia (Chicago)
Thank you Mr. Douthat! This essay is a strong beginning to the process of understanding how much both "sides" have in common. As Solzhenitsyn said, the dividing line between good and evil runs not through nationality, religion, race or political parties, but through each and every human heart.
PE (Seattle)
There is a common theme that runs through most Douthat articles. It's that there is an immoral counter on the left, equal in immorality to the MAGA Trumpers on the right. Newsom and DeSantis are equally abusive. The AOC "squad" on the left is just as extreme as disturbing MTG, Gaetz crew on the right. Douthat acts like he is just calling balls and strikes to equal sides of wrongdoing. He talk in circles, twists in a pretzel with hyper-articulated whataboutism to make 2022 conservatism seem acceptable. And level-headed readers of the Times comment section always see right through this ruse. But he keeps at it, relentless, seemingly trying to convince himself. Both he and David Brooks spin this, with Brooks I think breaking more free from this game. What will it take for Douthat to admit that conservatism in 2022 is cancerous and that the healthy spectrum of political thought from conservative to liberal is embodied solely on the left? Healthy political thought that moves us forward comes from the Clinton/Obama conservative to the Sanders/Warren progressive.
Tom Richman (Penngrove California)
Whataboutism. California independence now.
Michael (In Real America)
Any column with a RD by-line is going to bring out the anti-religious zealots no matter what the subject. Nice of him to give you guys an on-going forum. To survive, any culture has to draw lines on behavior. Religion has historically been a part of drawing those lines. And, like it or not, accept it or not, everyone living in our culture has been influenced by values transmitted by the church. Sorry, just a fact...and the reason so many have decided that because of that manner of transmission ANY value associated with the church is "bad". Hating the church or people of faith will not change the cultural need for common values. Just facts of life folks.
Jim (The Desert)
@Michael some of us may not be "anti-religious zealots" but rather find the factual, documented, disgusting behavior of the Catholic Church unacceptable and un-American. Decades of child rape & cover up. How does this institution still exist?
Donna M. Darboli (California)
Trumpers like Ross will do and say anything to achieve a theocratic autocracy, including whining constantly that no one will give their theocratic autocracy a legitimate chance to rule. Not falling for it.
Mark McIntyre (Los Angeles)
Gov. Newsom is instrumental in getting Proposition 1 on the November ballot. Prop. 1 enshrines the right to safe, legal abortion in the California Constitution. That's real action on behalf of women's rights. What's DeSantis done? Pandered to Trumpists and the anti-abortion crowd.
Look Ahead (WA)
“Since 1977 there have been eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, and 186 arsons targeted at abortion clinics and providers across the United States” These are far more serious incidents than the grafitti and vandalism noted in the article.
Sane citizen (Ny)
I find Mr Douthat's preposition that 'the Biden Justice Department is “fishing,” as Timothy Carney of The Washington Examiner puts it, for pro-life activists to arrest and charge, while pro-choice arsonists are just a lower priority.' to be highly insulting and disingenuous. The ratio of republican illegal, unconstitutional, immoral, corrupt and anti democratic actions to those of recent democratic administrations is 99.9 to .1. So let's stop this stupid and foolhardy me-toosim. The Obama and Biden administrations are ethical, moral and legal to a fault. Ultimate test: If given a choice, would you let Trump or Obama (or Joe Biden?) take your daughter on a date?
So, a right-wing fanatic religious PAC claims that there were 75 attacks on pro-life people and no arrests? That pretty much says it all. Like most other right-wingers, they lie. And will continue to lie in order to get power. Douthat is a part of the lies and has been most of his life.
NolaT (Pass Christian MS)
Shorter Ross: Whatabout, whatabout, whatabout, and civil war. will be only way to resolve issues. Because of the left, you know.
Elaine (Redwood City)
Ross here displays one of the defining characteristics of the modern conservative--a persecution complex based on (unfounded) paranoia.
Mariko (Montana)
@Elaine I’ve come to the conclusion that modern conservatives are the most whiny people I’ve ever seen.
tr connelly (palo alto, ca)
Excuse me, but after years of railing against liberal "indoctrination" from K-12 to PhD programs, Governor DeSantis has decided its time to apply his own form of prior restraint on speech and teaching he doesn't like also from K-12 to PhD programs. As a Catholic leader, you casually refuse to acknowledge the "new conservative" attack on social justice -- a centuries old core concept of Catholic moral teaching (except at meetings of the Napa Institute (which BTW functions freely with no speech restraints in Governor Newsom's California -- unlike the absence of free speech in all Florida public schools. The Governor's Ed Department even banned his own Ag Department's poster on food insecurity poster from hanging in any school precisely because it quoted the Pledge of Allegiance phrase "with Liberty and Justice for All" -- because it was deemed to constitute sympathy with CRT and socialism. Florida's teachers under pain of criminal prosecution must now "out" to school administrators and parents any child who exhibits aberrant sexual tendencies: third grade girls holding hands; fifth grade boys wrestling around "too intimately" in the hallways? Silly but sad! You point out alleged government tolerance of 75 violent threats to pro-life advocates, but remain silent about the thousands of daily threats and abuse directed against ordinary citizens who have volunteered to be election officers under the blind tolerance of red-state governors in the DeSantis mold.
DS (Oregon)
Very disappointing piece. Desantis's voter intimidation campaign isn't some librul strawman. He's playing with Trumpist authoritarianism. This column reads like a big fig leaf for the real ills of conservatism. If you truly believe there's no "there there" in liberalism, you are just not listening. The GOP wants you just where they have you.
Allan (CA.)
A certain bias shows in the excessive whining and religious victimhood, whereas the real victims are those who are oppressed by your religion and today’s form of conservatisms whose platform is patently racially oppressive, blind to the fact that identity resides in the brain not in the sexual organs and willfully ignorant that identity is a continuum from extreme versions of maleness to femaleness with myriad combinations in between, anti- freedom-of-agency of one’s own body, willing to disassemble democracy with lies and subversion, promoting religious political involvement to the degree that the Founding Fathers warned against (with good reason), promoting division in order to win the war with evolving America and selfishly seeking power and dominance rather than cooperating to solve America’s future. The Left,s obvious sins are are picayune and ineffective in comparison.
Robert Roth (NYC)
Poor poor Ross! He get off on unleashing state terror on millions of women and now a bonus trans men as well. He says to them what a gift your pregnancy is. A gift given at the point of a gun. Where have we heard that before. People threatening violence or committing violence and saying I am doing this for your own good. Not accepting his gift, being repelled by his gift he takes as affront comparable to the official violence he is advocating for. Ross does have a thing for institutional violence. Like his justification of the bloodbath of serial executions the last administration committed on the way out the door.
ss (Boston)
DeSantis vs. Handsome Gavin (that's his only quality) has nothing to do with any sort of culture. And the whole text is onerous philosophy about purely political and down-to-earth questions. As expected from the 'GOP supporters' being allowed to write something in NYT, that's the condition, write something which is muffled, complicated and means nothing in the end.
Mary Fields (Silver Spring, MD)
I like life. It's something to do. Somewhere on this globe every 10 seconds, there is a woman giving birth to a child. She must be found and stopped. Sam Levinson Once you hear the details of victory, it is hard to distinguish it from a defeat. Jean-Paul Sartre
Robbiesimon (Washington)
- Difference between legislation coming out of California and that coming out of Florida: California legislation tries (if sometimes awkwardly) to increase human health, happiness and well-being. Florida legislation tries to force religious (Christian) values and beliefs on everyone - and discriminates again non-whites.
La Belle Catalane (NY)
It is much simpler One is the son of a tax attorney for the family of J. Paul Getty and a woman who counted antiques, knitting and needlepoint among her passions, One other is the son of a cable box installer and a nurse The educated and better off will vote for the first, as he understands them better, working Americans for the second, as he understands them better
Jean Cleary (Mass.)
Well Ross, You seem to be one of those men that believe that it is alright for you, as a man, have the right to bodily autonomy. But not Women. Why is that?
Michael Balter (Portland)
I'm old enough to remember these analogies. Newsome is like the idealistic hippy going to music festivals and talking incessantly about the utopian dream. DeSantis is like the parent who has the experience to know that everything Newsome talks about is delusional garbage. Newsome will excite the young, the ignorant, and the woke. Desantis will excite the adults, the working class, and the people who don't have time to listen to the utopian dream because they have to put bread on the table and parent their children. Historically we have always envied the hippy. He's free, and he's cool and plays the guitar and gets all the cool chicks. The parent is dull, boring, and too preoccupied with money and responsibilities. The parent is the guy who takes away your toys and sends you to bed. But in the end, no one ever wants the hippy to run anything. He's incapable because his priorities have nothing to do with reality. It's the parent that runs things. And when you get older, you realize that the parent was always smarter than the hippy. Even if that realization took many years.
shadowlark (san josé)
@Michael Balter While I'm not a hippy--but do play guitar--I hope I never reach an age where such a reductive, binary worldview seems smart at all. Is it fair to say that we Americans tend to congratulate ourselves too easily, and talk up freedom for ourselves and seeming teammates, but not the Other Side? We need a sense of shared humanity and common purpose, one which doesn't rely on anything like across-the-board agreement. Though in shambles, this is a society, not a winnable war for one side of the red/blue or parent/hippy divide. Whether in Oregon or Maine, there must be countless chances to feel like the wise parent in Portland.
Joe Arena (Woodcliff Lake, NJ)
Ross, your party has lost all credibility on the matter. The 3 GOP court nominees who tipped the tide to overturn Roe in 2022 each sat in public hearings on national TV during their confirmation hearings and pledged that Roe was settled law (Gorsich 2017, Kav 2018, Barrett 2020). They all lied.
Kenneth Joseph Marsh (Anaheim, CA)
Another overstated Op-Ed. Both are small leaders, neither can really move the needle.
Tryingtobemoderate (Seattle)
The narrative that is most frightening is that the FBI is choosing not to pursue a crime because of their hatred of religion and politics. Does that mean if the republicans take power, there will be mass stonings of homosexuals in the streets and the justice department won't prosecute? Getting in the way of the free exercise of religion is unconstitutional. My goodness we are in trouble, when a state, in the middle of a global pandemic that killed over one million Americans, can't make temporary laws to protect it citizens without being called un-American. Pro-life indeed.
Ralph Bouquet (Chicago)
Sorry, conservatives are ruled by fixed (religious) ideology, progressives by practical concerns for people's welfare. Liberals: "Live and let live." Conservatives: "Live and let die"
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
What, exactly, can't Douthat do as a result of nasty old liberals? Is there a law requiring him to use contraception? Is there a law forcing his wife to have abortions? Has his local RC Church been forced to pay taxes? Has the government forced his local RC Church to close? Is anyone forcing him to disobey any of the 10 Commandments? Is the "discrimination" he feels confined to the requirement that he treat LBGTQ people the same way he would treat other people?
APS (Olympia WA)
They are not inevitable to people, they are dueling caricatures, they are only inevitable to those who need a narrative
Enrique (Miami FL)
The only problem that I see is that God is ‘obviously’ on the side of the pro-life movement. Why can’t we see or hear that?
Tryingtobemoderate (Seattle)
@Enrique Twenty to Thirty percent of all fertilized eggs (40 to fifty if the pregnant person is over 30) never implant in the uterus and are flushed down the toilet. God is pro-life? During the great flood he killed every single human on the planet. Pro-life? God gave us free will. Sounds like he cares about freedom to me.
R. Daumal (Honolulu)
The Christian American call for “freedom of religion” is about gaining enough power to impose religion. Desantis and his ilk are using this to gain power for the sake of having power.
CCC (Reston, Virginia)
How many times are Republicans going to resort to the witch hunt defense? As Mr. Douthat suggests the Biden administration is on a "fishing" expedition to charge and vilify anti-abortion activists/protesters, it seems that this is the tactic employed when scraping the bottom of the barrel for a substantive argument.
Patricia (California)
There's so much wrong with Doutat's column that it's hard to know where to begin. First, he raises one red herring after another. Authorities didn't just ignore the law when BLM protestors took to the streets--the national lockdown had ended. There were no rules against assembling in public. Douthat forgets that this was the Trump administration that failed to prosecute protestors, not some liberal autocracy. Second, religious institutions weren't singled out for restrictions during the pandemic. The same restrictions were applied to them as everyone else. Third, David Daleiden isn't being persecuted for his political views. He's being PROsecuted for felony invasion of privacy because he and another activist posed as employees of a fake biomedical charity to obtain interviews with Planned Parenthood personnel. They did not "casually discuss fetal dismemberment," as Douthat claims. Daleiden asked how much it would cost him to obtain fetal cells and organs, and the PP representatives told him that they did NOT sell fetal remains, but that women could request that the remains be donated. Fourth, I'm aware of only two fire-bombings of pregnancy crisis centers, and I'm sure the FBI is investigating. I disagree that graffiti and vandalism rise to the same level of seriousness, but I'm sure the FBI is investigating those.
Tryingtobemoderate (Seattle)
@Patricia You are wasting ink. Ross would never look this far into his conjectures because it would interfere with his narrative. Christians are being persecuted and women are murdering their children. It doesn't go any deeper than that.
faivel1 (NYC)
How long we're in the sad stage of American politics, even my smart TV screen is exhausted, just turning off by itself.
Robert Roth (NYC)
The culture war raging inside Ross might be the one for him to pay attention to. The part of him that wants to control women's and now trans men's bodies, punish them for whatever desires they stir up in him, the part of him that he presents full frontal to the world can't be the only Ross there is. Obviously that part has done and is doing enormous harm to others. But also to himself. There has to be more in there. More to him than that. I just have to believe it.
tr connelly (palo alto, ca)
Do you ever consider that when you put the state in charge of managing pregnancy, with the 14th Amendment no longer applicable to reproduction issues, per Justice Alito's majority opinion, you may be giving the same state authority to compel abortions? Only a "personhood" amendment could stop that outcome now (why the right-to-life movement wants one so badly). Horrible, but the anti-abortion legal cadre has offered no "limiting principle" And where is you sympathy for the psychological snf een physical harm now being done to women who suffer miscarriages. -- but have to wait weeks for necessary medical procedures because your side has cowed doctors in Florida and other states like Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas. What Catholics and other religious groups have long recognized as a profound tragedy, in the DeSantis world a miscarriage is now "probable cause" for Javertist anti-abortion prosecutors to subpoena the distraught woman's 's internet and I-phone records for evidence she committed a medical abortion. As we now know, DeSantis might fire them if they don't. And the GOP used to be the party of "small government" -- now it's about cruelty to 10-year olds, mendacity about elections, and hypocrisy about values.
CCC (Reston, Virginia)
It's a little difficult to take Mr. Douthat seriously--2 weeks ago he called for the cancellation of the Stop Oil tomato soup crusaders who, are desperate for lawmakers and the public to care, pay attention, and help restore a modicum of health to our natural environment. Now he's chosen to frame pro-choice activists as "terrorists." Entirely disingenuous moves to create fire. We have more than enough fire. How about honest and reasonable arguments that don't insult the intelligence of readers?
Fester (Columbus)
So what do you think is more in line with the Constitution, Ross? A governor who uses government to impose his religiously based ideology on citizens or one who uses government to protect citizens from others trying to impose their religion on them?
Ken (Chicago Burbs IL)
That list of Californian laws are pretty terrible and pretty much disassembles personal autonomy from the state.
John B. (NY)
" governance that seems equally unconcerned about neutrality or fairness." There you go again, Ross. As long as you are wedded to this absurd "both sides-ism," you will have little to contribute to constructive dialog. The supposed sins of liberals in power you cite may be anathema to you, but that power flows from fairly won democratic elections -- the procedural fairness you purport to want. There are no liberals who are clamoring to throw out election results, or marching on the Capitol to force Congress to do their bidding, or "patrolling" voting sites armed to the teeth to intimidate voters. The "sides" in this ongoing descent into Trumpian Fascism is very lopsided.
treed (az)
This opinion piece will be tossed but I'll have a delightful song with me for the rest of the day: "One of these things is not like the others.."
Jane (massachusetts)
Why do we all have to abide by the Catholic Church's dictate on abortion? They can decline to have an abortion as their religion instructs, leaving the majority of us to do as we like as well. Isn't that a compromise? It worked for 50 years.
Some Dude (CA Sierra Country)
I recall the violence of the "pro-life" movement, with its numerous fire bombings and murders, and shake my head at the spaghetti logic exhibited by this disingenuous column. I believe Ross wants to see a world where "conservative" radicals get to exercise "fundamental rights" to physically shut down abortion access without a shed of responsibility. Here's what's illogical. Conservatives (using their chosen moniker without agreeing that it accurately describes their philosophy) believe that untrained parents should micromanage school curriculum applicable to all students, but deny the power to individual parents making sometimes life-saving medical decisions for their own children. Conservatives attach themselves to vociferous defense of individual liberty and limited government power, but push a religiously based doctrine about the commencement of life and the beginning of legal rights into the legal realm, thereby drafting the government into the business of imposing their personal religious beliefs onto a public that doesn't share them. Equating a nascent fascist movement, epitomized by the Trump - DeSantis -Taylor Greene - Bobert line of politicians, with the Newsom brand of public service and personal responsibility policy, is ridiculous. One represents authoritarian white Christian nationalism dominated by double speak, the other the continuing American bumpy road to a more perfect democracy. Not much of a choice, really.
Edward (Massachusetts)
These comments are the reason why Republicans radicalize. The level of gaslighting and echo chambers coming from Democratic voters is outstanding.
Eric En (AZ)
Newsom vs. DeSantis would be a good contest. But it feels like Trump will run because he has to. If not he surely will face charges and have to go to trial. In any case, the writer fails as usual to get to a point that condemns the GQP for its failings and tries to tar the system for carrying out its legal responsibilities. Only when the Christian Nationalists admit to their failures and show some shame, can they have any credibility when they criticize others.
Peter (Albany. NY)
Newsom is so done. California is a disaster because of Newsom. He is not winning in the mid-west, southeast, south and mid-atlantic states. No way.
Jules (California)
@Peter It's funny Peter, I could never opine on the state of things in New York. I don't live there.
David Law (Los Angeles)
A liberal leaning publication like the New York Times will publish Mr. Douthat's opinion, even though many of its employees and readers may not agree. Would a right-leaning, Republican supporting organization extend the same consideration to a liberal commentator? Unlikely. Mr. Douthat's comparison is not accurate: liberal Democrats consider the opposition and use reason and rule of law in their decisionmaking. The Federalist Society, Mitch McConnell, DeSantis, the Republican establishment, etc., have shown their disdain for considering other points of view and simply change the rules to win. If that doesnt work, they enlist a mob to maim and murder law enforcement officers and war heroes to get their way. Sorry Ross. Your analogy is not accurate.
Alisa Keesey (Santa Cruz, California)
The Southern Poverty Law Center is tracking over 1,600 white nationalist extremist groups. These groups are often regional, well-armed, and organized. What does this tell me? The US government is hesitant to go after home-grown white terrorists or hate groups. Maybe because these sentiments are moving into the mainstream and the GOP has weaponized critical race theory and gender theory. DeSantis is banning children's books that show same sex couples and diversity. Women have a right to health care and abortion providers should not be harassed. Until you cross a religious mob to get into a healthcare clinic your words are hollow. Until we talk about the real threat of militant extremist groups and almost daily mass shootings, I don't want to read anymore of these silly pieces about culture wars. Ross, get real.
CCC (Reston, Virginia)
So an 87-year-old woman can't be guilty of a crime because she's old? In that case, there is no end to the crimes we could see outsourced to seniors. Perhaps this is what Mr. Douthat is advocating for? This is the sad state of our union. Ross Douthat, find an honest way to make a living.
Alex Barreras (Miami)
"...a Pennsylvania father of seven who allegedly shoved an abortion clinic volunteer more than a year ago." That's fast and vigorous prosecution to you. Mr. Douhat? Also on the Newson being equal to DeSantis in abusing state powers: must have missed the part where Newson rounded up conservatives and flew them to Texas. Or when he created his own police force to go after non-existent voting fraud. Or when the CA Elections Department assured ex-convicts they were cleared to vote, then Newson arrested them and called a press conference to announce it. Bothsideism is a very weak branch to venture out.
Jeffrey (NJ)
Doctors are licensed by the state. If a doctor provides care that is not evidence based, according to the author, he wants no consequences? The old joke is that reality has a liberal bias. The trust is that this reverses it, in that Liberals bind themselves by reality. The Right, especially the religious Right, want to bend everyone's reality to what they 'feel' and 'believe'. You see this with vaccines, mask wearing, guns (guns don't kill people, people do), etc. There is no path to a pluralistic society with that mindset. Please, follow our constitution, especially the first amendment and keep religion out of public policy.
Lefthalfbach (Philadelphia)
OK- I am really, really starting t get tired of Ross Douthat and his false equivalency blind spots. Maybe Pro Life demonstarors in front of clinics get arrested because they are in public? And maybe prochoice arsonists- assuming thta they are prochoice arsonists and not prolife provocateurs do not get arrested because they act in secret? And maybe the cops did not break up and arrest the Floyd murder protestors for not being masked because there were thousands of them filling up city squares and blocks and not because anybody thought the protests were moral and right? Douthat has a fair point about First Amendment issues in Woke-dom places like California and in institutions now dominated by progressive thinking. He does and that ahs to be admitted. But so many of his supporting points are so laughab;ly weak that you just have to wonder.
Watcher (The Hellscape known as America)
Conservatism is solely concerned with the preservation of white male privilege, and the preservation of power by the financial ruling class. All the rest of Ross's words are nonsense, and you can completely ignore them, because he doesn't mean any of it. This is about pure raw power, and the demand by religious extremists to wield that power over the rest of us. We cannot let them. The United States is not a theocracy. Fight with everything you have, and make sure to vote.
Michael (In Real America)
@Watcher Just a tad dramatic, don't you think? What is your definition of "religious extremists"? Any one who calls themselves Christian? Not supporting abortion, supporting life is a value...not JUST a Christian stance. Not supporting abortion does not mean supporting a matter how many time the left says it as a scare tactic for getting votes.
BEK (New York, NY)
This is a very disturbing opinion piece which clarifies nothing. The idea that pro-life centers in California are required to give patients abortion information is NOT equivalent to the ban on any, and all, abortion information advocated by conservatives elsewhere in the country. Patients should be fully informed of all options heading into any potentially life-changing medical situation. Should they not? The argument is on thin ground when you need to refer to your examples of “abortion opponents” as “an 87-year-old woman” or “a father of seven”. As though one’s age or the number of children one has automatically excuses unlawful behavior. (I’ve recently heard one of Bret’s ideological colleagues on the radio bemoan Steve Bannon’ prison sentence on the grounds that he’s “a 68-year-old man”.) There is also the matter of using enforcement of Covid restrictions at Jewish funerals as an example of religious persecution in this essay. This is a shocking choice. Is the author not aware of the degree to which conservative and Republicans are using antisemitic rhetoric recently? This coming from numerous candidates, supporters and from the ex-president himself.
Alexandra (Atlanta, GA)
Yet another case of a religious conservative who interprets the fact that they can't force their religious beliefs on other groups as "persecution." Just a slew of false equivalency, whataboutism and "but Hillary's emails!" which is pretty much all we hear from Ross and his ilk these days.
NeilDSmith (USA)
In Iran, I'm told, young men and women are upset with the clerics and the morality police. Their heroic resistance against religious fanaticism is cheered on by many here in the USA. Why even the NY Times seems interested in this event. "Thousands of Iranian mourners made their way to the hometown of Mahsa Amini early on Wednesday to mark 40 days of mourning since her death in police custody, defying a heavy crackdown in response to the protests that have since embroiled the country, according to local media, videos on social media and rights groups." "Outrage over her death set off more than a month of intensive protests across Iran, many of them led by women and youth and calling for an end to the system of authoritarian clerical rule." Indeed...
The history of the anti-abortion movement is replete with violence, including murder of doctors who acted lawfully. Douthat is thoroughly and unapologetically revisionist here. Meanwhile, I'd pray (even though I'm an atheist, pro-choice progressive) for a matchup between our Governor Newsom and that swine DeSantis. The former will save our rights in a repaired democracy; the latter will sink them utterly as sure as the coastline of Florida is falling into the ocean.
Steve Hunter (seattle,wa)
Reading this I felt sick to my stomach. The conservatives have been waging aggressive battles for the last two decades, especially the Cristian right against the rest of us. Whereas I do not condone violence I am encouraged by the fact that many liberals have found a voice and no longer take the assaults from conservatives lying down, turning a cheek. January 6th was not a BLM or progressives' attempt to overthrow our government. The fact that Douthat is whining about liberals springing into action gives me hope. Go Gavin.
Joe Arena (Woodcliff Lake, NJ)
It's always simply a matter of priorities. If your priority is anti CRT, anti LGBT, and abortion/contraception ban laws, along with media stunts and media bashing, and if you're not interested in things like Social Security and Medicare, Prescription Drug Prices, Infrastructure etc... then Desantis and the GOP are your guys/gals. If instead your priority is addressing things like the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, Prescription Drug Costs, Infrastructure, education, jobs/wages, etc, then Newsome and Dems are your guys/gals. The sole and only goal of guys like Desantis is to run interference and distractions for the wealthy establishment, so that they never have to talk about bread and butter issues related jobs, wages, healthcare, prescription drugs, education, etc and so they never have to put forth any actual policy. The GOP isn't even pretending to be about actual policy anymore (save for abortion bans, anti CRT and anti LGBT bills).
Alan MacDonald (Wells, Maine)
Wiki should define this DSM-5 condition of Election Denialism re. Nialism: Anthropologist Didier Fassin distinguishes between denial, defined as "the empirical observation that reality and truth are being denied", and denialism, which he defines as "an ideological position whereby one systematically reacts by refusing reality and truth". Persons and social groups who reject propositions on which there exists a mainstream and scientific consensus engage in denialism when they use rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument and legitimate debate, when there is none. It is a process that operates by employing one or more of the following tactics to maintain the appearance of legitimate controversy Conspiracy theories – Dismissing the data or observation by suggesting opponents are involved in "a conspiracy to suppress the truth". Cherry picking – Selecting an anomalous critical paper supporting their idea, or using outdated, flawed, and discredited papers to make their opponents look as though they base their ideas on weak research. False experts – Paying an expert in the field, or another field, to lend supporting evidence or credibility. This goes hand-in-hand with the marginalization of real experts and researchers. In 2009 author Michael Specter defined group denialism as "when an entire segment of society, often struggling with the trauma of change, turns away from reality in favor of a more comfortable lie". Which duopoly Party fills the bill?
sdavidc9 (Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut)
It is a strange sort of contradiction for people to believe that their religion is the only true one and that false religions should have the same rights and privileges as the true one.
Brian Michael Coyle (Oakland, CA)
Just in time for Halloween. Dressing up the outrage of the right - the feds are coming! the feds are coming! - we're the oppressed! Sitting in crowded pews as choral members spew led to superspreading hues. Protests against the police state that Black people live in? Correlated with drops in Covid. (Probably because paranoid unvaccinated wouldn't go outside because they might run into a protester.) California Covid death per 100,000: 383 Florida Covid death per 100,000: 245 30,000 more Floridians died at that rate than if they had been in California. For doctors who prefer misinformation to patient lives, live free and die in sunny Florida! Of course this is all fun and games, because partisan leaders will pivot to statesmanship when the opportunity arises, Russ says. Take infrastructure. Right-wing presidents worked with both sides of the aisle to pass it, right?
Jennifer (Minneapolis)
" general you need liberalism plus some overarching vision to sustain solidarity, energy and hope. And you definitely need the “plus” to fully resolve questions like, “Is abortion a form of murder or a fundamental right?” or “Is it child abuse to give teenagers puberty blockers or child abuse to refuse them?” The overarching vision of "liberalism" is the same (supposedly) as "conservatism" -- a respect for individual autonomy, except when it can lead to substantial harm to others. In any other case involving 2 humans, there can be no legal demand for one human to give life-sustaining support to the other out of respect for individual autonomy (and laws behind that). Is life-sustaining support often freely given voluntarily? Yes. Is it murder if it isn't done. No. IMO: (1) To argue that abortion is a specific instance that needs to treated differently, you need to do more than define an embryo/fetus as fully human, and (2) you can't force others to adhere to your belief system.
annabellina (Vermont)
Liberals are not interested in forcing any woman to have an abortion. The removal of that choice puts in jeopardy the lives and livelihoods of women who choose abortion, but pro-life women can go on having the baby if they want, and nobody will interfere. Speaking at a time when armed vigilantes are threatening voters at dropboxes, Douthat's outrage is pablum. Women used to die in great numbers without access to abortion and health care providers have been murdered, harrassed, and threatened with death. The comparison is flaccid.
Livonian (Los Angeles)
It is the self-blindness of the left which so frightens me. (At least when DeSantis bullies Disney, he and his supporters know what he's doing.) The left, so certain that it is nothing but Love and Light, that it has won all of the arguments, that it's on the "right side of history," can't see its own illiberalism. It is a form of "soft totalitarianism" which is more pernicious than Newsom's obvious governmental overreach. It uses intense peer pressure, enforces group think and ostracization to control expression and dissent. "Avoiding harm" especially to "marginalized groups" is the justification. Liberals have become masters at shutting down argument before it can begin by declaring every dissent as "beyond the pale." Cancel culture, rigid left-wing control of expression on campuses, the insertion of liberal social agendas in public schools, deplatforming, the use of Big Tech to silence people who don't salute the latest left wing orthodoxy is very real. "Hey, it's not censorship if the government doesn't do it." "Words have consequences." "Words are violence." These are all just excuses to not engage in the social compact required by democracy.
Leftcoastlefty (Pasadena, Ca)
Until the great imbalance between minority rule and majority rule is rectified, it’s really funny for any opinion writer to be discussing the terrible way the minority in America (aka Republicans of all stripes) are being abused.
Dave (Michigan)
I'm sure CatholicVote has also tracked the arson, vandalism, and homicides against abortion clinics and their staffs. Would you share those figures as well?
Newton Guy (Newton, MA)
When will Democrats realize that candidates from the deep blue coasts won’t cut it? Probably never. Newsom looks like Kim Jong-un to much of the country. Expect a red tidal wave in ‘22 and ‘24.
Jack Toner (Oakland CA)
So Douthat equates a scheduled, indoor religious service with an outdoor protest. What utter nonsense. Demonstrations are one-offs, what would Douthat want to be done? Arrest all the demonstrators for not maintaining social distance? But an organization scheduling indoor gatherings can be held accountable. Douthat wants us to believe he's an honest conservative. Emitting this sort of balderdash is quite counter productive.
Orbis Deo (San Francisco)
An incredibly wrong-headed and false argument shopped here as an opinion.
Jack (Austin)
Great column. When cataloguing the sins of the right on this score, let’s not forget the way the Rs conducted lawfare against their political opponents during the nineties and the aughts; and also the way some people who cast provisional ballots (repeat, provisional ballots which are by design subject to further inquiry) are in prison for a term of years in at least one conservative jurisdiction when it turned out they were ineligible to vote but didn’t realize it. But that’s supposing I can trust mainstream media reports about people imprisoned for making what seems to be an understandable and honest mistake regarding eligibility to vote. Rocked my world a bit the other day when someone sent a link to a Washington Post editorial about a recent Texas law that lets parents enter their child’s DNA in a government database so that when they’re obliterated beyond recognition in a school shooting, they can be identified. This is preferable to sensible gun laws, you see. Looked up the law and its legislative history and it’s actually about a multistate database to facilitate returning kidnapped or trafficked children to their families if they’re eventually rescued. At least Q-Anon might be a giant put-on. We may need to find our way to independent trustworthy voices as we find our way out of this mess.
MV (Arlington VA)
The "Binds but does not Protect" phenomenon seems based more on how the system treats Whites vs. non-Whites. And this country has a long history of criminalizing activity more likely to apply to Blacks, e.g. after the Civil War criminalizing loitering while at the same time not hiring freed Blacks (so hanging around without the work they can't get becomes criminalized). Which then fed into voting prohibitions on felons that last to this day. And a reason why White people today generally see the police as protecting them, and Blacks often see them as a threat. Sure, you can find liberal overreach; any state with one party in control doesn't have its excesses reined in by the opposition. Requiring crisis pregnancy centers to advertise abortions? Those centers are well known for providing misleading information while posing as health-care providers, so a requirement to provide information about all health-care options seems reasonable. Requiring abortion coverage (or contraceptive coverage) in church employer health plans? If you want to be an employer, working in the secular world, you should have to follow secular rules - otherwise you're trying to have it both ways. Religious freedom shouldn't convey the right to engage in discrimination. But the bottom line is: Only one party today believes in democracy, and is willing to promote voting by everyone and accept the results. The rest is noise.
skier 6 (Vermont)
Blocking the entrance to a Womans Health clinic. (labelled abortion clinic by Ross) is a Federal crime. The age of these charged individuals, or how many children they have is irrelevant. Does being the parent of children absolve one of the crime? How many of these so called Pro-Life individuals have murdered clinic workers, the Doctors or their patients?
Michael (In Real America)
@skier 6 I don't know...out of millions of pro-lifers, how many? Sounds like it is a lot in your mind. Please...tell us how many. We will wait.
skier 6 (Vermont)
@Michael Matt answered this question in another post, Quote "Since the the 1970s, anti-abortion activists have committed 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 956 threats of harm. They have bombed 42 abortion clinics, & set 192 on fire:"
Rod Paul (Texas)
Sorry, Ross, but your take once again is devoid of reality. I voted for Nixon and was the very definitio0n of a "Reagan Republican" - the first time I voted for a Dem for president was when I held my nose and voted for Hillary - because, as P.J. O'Rourke summarized it, "She's wrong on almost everything but wrong within normal parameters." Any over-reach by people like Newsom can still be easily fixed by the electorate. But the christo-fascist goals of the former Republican Party are a one-way street with no way out, if they succeed. At this point I'd vote for a dedicated communist over any election denying authoritarian Trumpublican fascist or "mainstream" Republican who wants to eliminate things like Social Security and Medicare.
MT (LosAngeles)
It's interesting how Mr. Douthat uses examples from David French, "a classical liberal" to make his case. I haven't read Mr. French and I don't know if he qualifies or distinguishes the supposed allegations alluded to by Mr. Douthat. But whether he gets Mr. French right or not, apparently Mr. Douthat uses this device to santitize or at least keep the shaky factual record at arms length by not owning the claims himself. As I understand it, California's covid limitations on religious gatherings applied to secular gatherings as well. The fact that the conservative supreme court decided the regulations violated the First Amendment doesn't at all prove they were "liberal" and not simply based on the best available public health policy recommendations. Likewise, the claim that so-called pro-life pregnancy centers must provide information regarding abortions, as I understand it, was designed to remedy the fact that these centers misrepresent themselves as secular medical or even government establishments in order to deceptively guide (mostly poor) women away from the option of abortion. This is not ok and no doubt runs contrary to California's broad unfair business practices and fraud laws. Surely Mr. Douthat is aware of these wrinkles, or at least arguments. The fact that he hides his ignorance and presents them with the patina of fairness because the come from "a classical liberal" reflects very poorly on Mr. Douthat's self-portrayal as reasonable conservative.
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@MT He does not hide his ignorance. For I have no doubt that he knows the information you provide. Instead, he ignores that which he wants to hide. A tactic that reveals he is not the great intellectual he pretends to be. He's just a run of the mill American reactionary dressed up as an intellectual.
Robert Roth (NYC)
"For abortion opponents, though, it’s been hard not to notice the contrast between the slow-seeming federal response to the wave of violence and the vigor with which the government has been pursuing anti-abortion protesters lately." As opposed the speed their repressive hateful misgynist laws are being fast tracked across i n many states around the country. As an anarchist, pacifist and sex radical I believe in redemption not intimidation. I hope the part of Ross the part of him that is yearning to be free from the shackles of his soul crushing, spirit killing freedom hating ideology will win out in the end.
Ansapphire54 (MA)
The problems in our country are nit helped by culture wars. They are used to divide the country. They are generally based in half truths and sometimes straight out lies. They allow politicians to putt one group if Americans against each other. They are also harmful to our country and democracy. Never mind they are used to manipulate voters. Republicans who use them mostly do it to avoid discussing issues.
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@Ansapphire54 The problem is that the culture wars are extremely effective. Its good old divide and conquer.
Concerned (US)
Interesting to see the author voice concerns for the rabid minority of Abortion opponents who absolutely deserve to be treated fairly. I have no doubt he would bring the same vigor to his assessment of the anti-abortionists who have murdered abortion providers. My concern is that the tone and tenor of this article is divisive, and continues to break down the trust in the nature of our neighbors that don't agree with the minority opinion on one topic. Given the authors considerable talents, I am disappointed in this approach and lack of big-picture perspective. He is certainly entitled to write what he wants, he is also free to help make the country stronger by figuring out a better path forward, our choices tell a lot about who we are.
Erik (Santa Monica)
Mark Houck shoved a 72 year old man to the ground on two separate occasions. The victim was an abortion clinic escort, a person who assists women through the lines of harassment and verbal assault that has been institutionalized by the pro-life movement. The very fact there needs to be a person performing this job, to be victimized by the pro-life violence, shows you how very different the two sides are here. The 11 people arrested for obstructing the abortion clinic were also charged with causing injury. So Douthat is providing two examples of pro-live people committing actual acts of violence against abortion providers, and he believes that this is equivalent to 75 instances of mostly spray painting. Maybe Ross should volunteer as an escort at an abortion clinic for a day and then see if he can find anything comparable on the pro-choice side.
Michel Diviney (Pittsburgh, PA)
@Erik I think this is what's referred to as false equivalency, which pops up regularly in this writer's columns -- it's fun to read and try to spot them (never takes long to do so). Thank you for putting your finger on this one!
Albany Solano (Berkeley, CA)
This is weak both-sides-ism. Multiple positions held by conservatives today are objectively wrong. Doctors offering Covid misinformation, banning reproductive health care to women whose health is in danger, teaching fact-free history to children about the founding of America, and denying office to the candidate that wins the most vote - among multiple others - are positions that the state is entitled "bind but not protect". Right and wrong exist. Conservatives must stop advancing morally inferior arguments before we can put American society back together.
John Scherer (Wilmington, NC)
Captain False Equivalency rides into the picture. Thanks for dressing it up in purported reasoned rhetoric, Ross.
Brandon (Orangevale, Ca)
Thanks for this steaming pile of… analysis.
LS (Northern California)
Ross Douthat likes to cloak his stance, of wanting there to be legal control of all girls' and women's reproductive systems, with his long semantic dances trying to justify that desire. However the abortion issue boils down to this: We women own our own bodies, no one else does. Either you agree with that fact, or, you disagree and support the State control of all female bodies. Mr. Douthat, through his rambling attempts at justification, does want State control of girls' and women's bodies. That basic disrespect for women's intelligence invalidates his clumsy efforts to achieve any national unity.
Richard (Montana)
@LS "That basic disrespect for women's intelligence invalidates his clumsy efforts to achieve any national unity." That's funny, I have a basic disrespect for the religious. Ask me why.
Patricia (California)
@LS, Ross Douthat supports the SC ruling that fetal personhood is in the Constitution, which would mean that the fetus has as many constitutional rights as the mother. Ross is very concerned with controlling the lives of others while claiming that his own rights are under threat. I can promise Ross that his religious liberties are safe in California.
RRI (Ocean Beach, CA)
@LS Yes, his notion of Liberty and Morality is deploying the full power of the state to compel women and girls to give birth. But you will never find him stating and defending that directly, even in his two columns, thus far, devoted, supposedly, to articulating his stance on abortion. I'm rather convinced, by his characteristic strained, overdone, meandering reasoning, that he sees himself not as a conservative persuader but as some sort of conservative 5th Columnist, sowing doubt and confusion on "the other side" at the New York Times.
Max Deitenbeck (Shreveport)
"to limit principles like free speech, religious liberty and freedom of association whenever they seem to offer too much leeway to a hated enemy." Paranoia, pure and simple.
Jeffrey (NJ)
Doctors are licensed by the state. If a doctor provides care that is not evidence based, according to the author, he wants no consequences? The old joke is that reality has a liberal bias. The truth is that this reverses it, in that Liberals follow reality. The Right, especially the religious Right, want to bend everyone's reality to what they 'feel' and 'believe'. You see this with vaccines, mask wearing, guns (guns don't kill people, people do), etc. There is no path to a pluralistic society with that mindset. Please, follow our constitution, especially the first amendment and keep religion out of public policy. Anything else is a betrayal to our form of government.
sbrian2 (Berkeley, Calif.)
What do those of us who deeply dislike both Newsom and DeSantis do? I can't be the only one like this. But the two parties have us right where they want us. I simply cannot vote Republican -- they're too far beyond the pale -- and so the Democrats don't need to do anything different to get my vote, year, after year, after year. We politically homeless simply must organize something new.
jdcallow (milan)
@sbrian2 From where I sit Newsom does not represent the Dems nearly as much as DeSantis represents the current GOP. I do think the either or structure of our government is a mistake, but that is what we have.
RBB (Michigan)
Always entertaining to read a Douthat piece just to see how he tries to justify right-wing positions not held by a majority of Americans. This time around, it's the current favorite Repub trope about how the people really, truly, actually being persecuted are "pro-life" Christian conservatives. Puh-leez, Ross! Saying that one's group is being persecuted is the basis for discriminating against other groups, in this case those of us who are progressives and often post- or non-religious. Keep trying, Ross, at the very least you'll continue to show us how flimsy the Right's arguments really are.
Richard (Montana)
@RBB The Right loves to claim discrimination against Christians, hoping that one of them one day will be elected to public office in the United States. ... Oh wait.
Stuart (Illinois)
The problem with Ross's analysis is that he assumes Newsom occupies a similar place within the Democrats that DeSantis does among the Republicans. DeSantis is the heir apparent to Trump and eagerly approved as the person to carry the banner if Trump for some reason doesn't run for president in the near future. Newsom is more of an outlier among Democrats and is not likely to ever be seen as the best choice to carry the party forward. Democrats are far more likely to rally around someone like Gretchen Whitmer and she is a far different politician than Newsom.
Tim Kane (Mesa, Arizona)
"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's & to God what is Gods" This is stated as a commandment by Jesus in 3 Gospels. Jesus commands his followers to separate religion form civics, church from state & advocates for secular government. This is consistent w/ the Prodigal Son parable which demonstrates that God wants us to find our way to him via our own volition, thus explaining a reason for free will. That parable is all of our's biographies from God's perspective. Making that prodigal journey is facilitated if one is not encumbered by a state religion already. How is it the Christian right/Douthat doesn't get this? The issue concerning abortion isn't one of ethics, that's generally decided: its a vice. The debate is one of civics - what has primacy: Choice or Sanctity of life? Hmm, what would Jesus do? A premise of christianity is death isn't the final experience. The essense of christianity is: God created us w/ enough free will to not choose him, 1 of the 1st things we did was not choose him; because death is not the final experience, it left us broken & bedamned. God doesn't want that for us, so Jesus comes, teaches, suffers & dies, to provide us a way back to God w/out losing our free will. Note: an alternative road to salvation would be to not give us free will, then we wouldn't sin, be bedamned & Jesus wouldn't have to suffer&die for us. In regard to the civic issue: free will vs life & which has primacy? Jesus chose our free will over life: his life specifically.
Richard (Montana)
@Tim Kane Theobabble to the rescue. "[W]hat would Jesus do?" Not be a Christian, I'd guess.
Davey (Rancho Mirage, CA)
My approach, as an unapologetic (but reasonable) lefty who wants the country to stay together? Pick the things that really matter. Like everyone gets food, shelter, health care, education - the basic needs. Fight mercilessly for those things. Everyone is treated equally in the eyes of the law. To vote. To express their opinion without violence or threats. No mercy on that, either. We protect the earth and the environment as well as possible, but also understand that forcing behavior on anyone doesn't tend to have the intended effect. Treat behaviors that you don't agree with, but that harm no one else as "none of your business." They're up to the individual(s) involved, and possibly their family and/or health care professionals. Not you. Most reasonable people would agree with all of this. And for christsakes, we need to give up the petty stuff that only seeks to inflame others with no discernable benefit. Language, specific words or terms that are verboten, variable pronouns, taking offense to otherwise harmless verbal provocations; just give up. It makes us look unreasonable. And it gives them snappy punch lines. Why would we do that? Newsom seems to be a very well-intentioned leader, but he occasionally embraces some of the fringe liberal stuff that really turns off the winnable moderate conservatives. Let's keep our eyes on the prize.
ST (Massachusetts)
I don't like either of them. I want some politicians in congress and Whitehouse not from the extreme left or extreme right, who have common sense, can work with both parities and for the majority of people in the middle in the next decades.
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@ST You are not going to get that in the foreseeable future. Particularly when one of the major parties thinks any compromise is blasphemy. You need to pick a side.
Sane citizen (Ny)
@ST and you have exactly that with Joe biden... at least for next several years. Backed up by Karmela Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Gary Newsom and them some.
Mike (Cincinnati)
Ross’s right-left equivalencies tend to be anecdotal and always ignore a crucial difference in kind. That is, one side’s explicit slide into authoritarianism.
Ellis6 (Sequim, WA)
@Mike Douthat has always championed religion over democracy. The Christian Right today is actively destroying the separation of Church and State. That is the end of religious freedom in this country. Dobbs is just one among numerous recent examples of the Supreme Court's ignorant and dangerous extremism. Freedom of religion must include freedom from religion. Religious people have the right to live their lives as they see fit -- up to a point. The same goes for unbelievers. The problem today is that the religious right demands that the society bow to their beliefs. The six radicals on the SCOTUS deliver. The idea that making a cake or floral arrangement for same sex couples somehow compromises Christians is nonsense. If their god exists, he knows what is in their hearts and doing their jobs for all Americans doesn't compromise their beliefs at all. They are simply providing a service for their fellow human beings. In a free country, they shouldn't even want to impose their beliefs on others. However, they disapprove of the choices others make and feel the need to try to impose their beliefs on everyone. I don't recall Jesus telling anyone to try to force others to be like them. Imposed religion is tyranny.
Liz (Ohio)
I am, and have for many years been offended, by the insinuation and occasional bald-faced, outright statements by GOPs and (white) Christian nationalists that the GOP is the only party representing Christians and that (white) Christian nationalists and the GOP hold the high ground morally and ethically. The lens through which these groups view issues such as abortion and gender is the antiquated religious teaching of their particular sect. To take abortion as an example, state laws prohibiting abortion were written prior to modern surgical sanitation, anesthesia, techniques such as D & C and evacuation, and medications such as mise, mife, and antibiotics; those old laws were intended to protect the health of women in an era in which unskilled charlatans performed dangerous, unsterile procedures that endangered the health of women. Aborting a fetus in our era is far safer to the woman than carrying a pregnancy to term, but anti-Choice factions, white Christian nationalists, and the GOP fail to acknowledge this plain and simple fact. This same sort of antiquated and misdirected thinking can be seen across the political spectrum of the GOP’s interference with human rights.
Rob (Virginia)
These same medical advances have given rise to fetal viability outside the womb at earlier stages of pregnancy. Your argument completely ignores the moral considerations around the life of the child.
Steve (The Couch)
The moral consensus does not support your insistence that a fetus is a child and your argument ignores religious organizations whose views about abortion do not match yours. Your attempting to force your minority religious beliefs on those that do not share them. That seems to be the definition of modern conservative thinking and is not supportable in a society that is built upon the separation of church and state.
Richard (Montana)
@Liz Fine point: The difference between Christian nationalists and so-called "mainstream Christians" is one of degree, not kind. Christopher Hitches said, "Religion poisons everything," and he was right. I blame the pending authoritarian theocracy on myopic religious moderates who think Christians mean well by default. Guess what.
Ansapphire54 (MA)
I’m more in the we shouldn’t have cultural warn issues at all. They are only designed to cause political division. They generally premised on half truths and some out right lies. They also harm directly some of our fellow Americans. They also cause political leaders to ignore the real concerns of voters. Cultural war issues are one of key components that is hurting our democracy.
PVW (California)
Reading the top comments, I feel no need to make any mention of the abortion issue's coverage in this article. It has been well addressed. I will say though that I appreciated the clarity of positioning DeSantis vs Newsome as representative of the current state of the US culture war. In fact, I was saying to a friend just the other day that the 2024 Presidential contenders should be these two, so that the country can basically have a referendum of these two factions of thought and belief. The clearer example Douthat gave was the question: Is giving children puberty blockers child abuse or is not giving children puberty blockers child abuse? That's a much more telling question than the abortion debate, and it's one the country is actively engaged with deciding, with many undecided individuals trying to figure out what our obligation to the children is as adults. Newsome or DeSantis? I'm afraid what we'll discover if we ever have that vote, but even more afraid of what we'll have to live through afterward. Neither one of them has any respect for the idea of representing ALL Americans. But I guess that accurately reflects a populace that punishes people who work across the aisle and supports only extremists.
RRI (Ocean Beach, CA)
@PVW For a Californian who should know better, you seem to have an exaggerated notion of Newsome as some kind of progressive culture warrior. He is and always has been a "Business Democrat," albeit with a California twist, because, also an adept politician, he keeps an eye on his voters' views. But I take more exception to the notion that, echoing Douthat, giving children puberty blockers is some kind of ideal deciding issue. Just how many children do you think are candidates for, let alone take, puberty blockers? Whereas, one in four American women have an abortion sometime in their life. I'm sure Douthat and the conservative right would like to divide allegiance on a relatively abstract issue that affects few, without the particulars of any such decision in individual cases, rather than talk about the expungement of a right of which one quarter of women avail themselves and a much large proportion take comfort in its availability.
Ellis6 (Sequim, WA)
@PVW "Neither one of them has any respect for the idea of representing ALL Americans." That statement illustrates the primary problem with American politics today -- voter ignorance. The right, as represented by DeSantis and Trump, insists on denying women the right to practice religion and make reproductive choices as they see fit. This lack of respect for individual differences goes far beyond abortion. The left, as represented by Newsome, insists on allowing individuals to make their own choices (up to a point). If you can't see a profound difference in that, which it seems you can't, please don't vote, you represent a threat to freedom in this country.
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@PVW Our nation is facing much more important issues than the medical care for minors with gender dysphoria. An issue best left up to the minor, their parents and their treating physicians. Not you. Not me. Not the government. That you chose this issue as paramount, and how you phrase it, reveals that you've been influenced by the culture warriors.
David (New Jersey)
RD writes as though the culture war in politics is inevitable and just needs to be impartially adjudicated. In fact, abortion (to use his prime example) was NOT a political issue until Republicans realized that they could capitalize on it as a wedge issue. Until then, except among Catholics -- who were off the national political stage until JFK was elected -- views on abortion were roughly similar among Democrats and Republicans. The right has repeatedly created fictions of embattled cultures -- remember the Silent Minority? -- whenever it's convenient, and especially when they feel threatened by the expansion of civil rights. Rights are not a cultural issue. Mary's having an abortion doesn't threaten Jane's culture, unless you create a fiction that it does.
Richard (Montana)
@David Well said. I'd add that the rise of the Nones (nonreligious) to about 25 percent of the population has Christianists thinking their backs are against the wall. And there is no better issue for cynical conservatives to exploit for power.
Ellis6 (Sequim, WA)
@Richard Unsurprisingly, the right doesn't believe in freedom of religion. That denial is embodied in the Dobbs decision, which allows states to insist on one and only one belief system. A court that is willing to allow tens of millions of citizens to live under religious tyranny is not a legitimate court.
lu (mn)
@Richard It's hard to understand what the christians are afraid of . Nobody is keeping them from going to church or forcing them to have an abortion. The conservatives just keep screaming that it's causing all sorts of problems when in reality, it's the religious people that are causing the problems trying to push their religious beliefs on others.
Michael M (SanFrancisco)
As implied below by Patrick, there was no attempt to force Pregnancy Centers to "advertise" abortion. Come on! The attempt was to require them to state the spectrum of medical options available to the patients who came in to them. The Centers were not being required to advertise, but to adhere to "accepted medical standards of the community".
RRI (Ocean Beach, CA)
"vandalism, arson, graffiti, a firebombing" I like the way Douthat got in the same thing twice, "arson" and "firebombing." Maybe there's a distinction without much of a difference there, but it doesn't inspire much confidence in either Douthat's or CatholicVote's incident counting. And since when have graffiti and vandalism risen to the status of terrorism? Note that graffiti and vandalism are also often the same thing, as graffiti is a form of vandalism. There's a reason Douthat didn't weave the terms differently: "vandalism, graffiti, arson, a firebombing." That would give away the game of multiplying the sense of aggrieved injury. For comparison with CatholicVote's count of 75 (feel free to discount some over-counting by "the other side"), the National Abortion Federation offers a 2021 count: invasions 16, vandalism 123, assault & battery 123, stalking 28, blockades 11, hoax devices/suspicious packages 71, bomb threats 9, burglary 11. Maybe, just maybe, the federal law enforcement response is proportional to reported crimes, and not part of a vast liberal conspiracy to suppress conservatives whose notion of Liberty is compelling, by law, women to give birth. The most remarkable thing to me is the persistence and even increase, according to the NAF, of crimes against abortion providers and women seeking abortions. You'd think, with state legislatures and the Supreme Court doing their work for them, anti-abortion activists might rest a bit on their laurels. But no.
Leros (Katonah, NY)
@RRI I find you simply cannot take Ross seriously as soon as he enters the right to choose space. For example, he seems to ignore that Mark Houck was indicted by a federal grand jury for assaulting a 70+ year old volunteer twice.
Ellis6 (Sequim, WA)
@RRI Not to mention the murder of doctors.
Smecky (Australia)
What social conservatives fear is that progressivism in power “consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.” Utterly speechless at the audacity of a conservative to quote this in the context of progressivism.
Scott (US)
@Smecky Not sure what the confusion is here. Douthat’s point, as I understand it, is that the idea and practice applies to both progressives and conservatives. I find this to be true.
Neil (San Francisco)
The right accuses others of the thing that they themselves are doing. Every time. There are endless accusations of stealing elections from the people who are trying to steal elections. The right wants a special class that the law applies to, just as they falsely accuse the other side of the same thing.
Smecky (Australia)
@Scott You're 100% right. Both sides do it for sure. I probably should have qualified the comment for clarity. The reason I was stunned at seeing that quote used in this context is that, of course, any policy is going to harm someone. I'm not denying that either wing does what they need. But the very idea of “consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.” existing is anathema to the left. Does it actually exist? Yes of course. But the idea is to be rid of it. For the right - the very idea is to make this quote a reality (whether by protection of religion, freedom to discriminate on the basis of said religion, forced-birth, gerrymandering and many more other examples I can't think of right now and don't have space to write). The fact that quote stunned me was not that it exists on the left, but more that it absolutely should NOT - that's the whole idea.
Matt (Miami)
I think things going back to normalcy will take a very long time. One side (Republicans) tried a coup. And a good percentage of the elected Republican leaders supported the coup along with Republican voters. It is hard to overcome when one party believes or supports a lie.
Patrick (Dallas)
Nice try, Ross. There are certainly violence on both sides, but you seem to equate a fringe movement on the left to a mainstream movement on the right. How many prolife organizations have been bombed? How many prolife doctors and nurses live out of state and travel in secret because prochoice folks threaten them with violence? On prolife medical care, no crisis pregnancy center should operate without giving women the full spectrum of options available to them. At the very least, a prolife crisis center should be required to be upfront about this.
George (USA)
I think you missed the fact that what’s happening on the right is fringe. The Republican Party has moved drastically far to the right. The Democratic Party has not done so, Bernie and the Cortez group don’t govern or lead the party. Desantis during Reagan’s era would be considered a right wing fanatic. The Republican party today in no way exemplifies the Reagan years, which is why I no longer vote Republican.
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@George I get what you're saying, but when a large majority of a group adopts extreme views, those views are no longer a "fringe" in that group. Nowadays, Liz Cheney is the GOP "fringe".
Mr. Fancy pants (Santa Maria Simia)
Wow, Ross. The anti-abortion people feel threatened? Just like healthcare providers who provide abortions or women seeking abortions walking through a threatening gauntlet to enter a healthcare facility for treatment? By ratio, Ross, how many threats have healthcare providers received during the same period?
Boulevard (NYC)
@Mr. Fancy pants Yeah, Douthat's piece eerily calls to mind the sort of fantasies of persecution driving Putin's aggression in the Ukraine. The oppressor's ideations of victimization serve a very important role in morally justifying--and masking--his own violence.
Michael Skadden (Houston, Texas)
Except that most likely they will not face off in 2024. Trump will run and win the Republican nomination because his lawyers are surely advising them it is less likely he will be indicted by the DOJ led by the feckless Garland than if he's not. If Trump is the GOP candidate, it is probable that Biden will run again.
Greg (M)
Bothsiderism gone wild. Newsom doing the right thing does not equal DeSantis doing the wrong thing. And, Newsom does not represent the core of the Democratic Party. DeSantis may be more typically Republican than Trump.
CATango (Ventura)
Leadership in the US has become a popularity contest. I understand elections are partially about that, but the content of vision and principles among nearly all national candidates seems sadly lacking. Although, they all share their penchant for attacking what they SAY are the other group’s visions and ideals. Most coverage of current politics might address a couple issues; gas prices, Roe and Ukraine. They don’t discuss the drivers of “gas prices” or the fact that we’ve had it so good for so long compared to Europe, that our reality bubble might need bursting. They don’t articulate the core danger in reversing Roe and that is the deceit used by judges who decided that and the fact that it sets a precedent for abandoning stare decisis. Stare decisis is a core principle of our law; there are dangers to throwing out precedent that run the gamut of all law, not just Roe. Ukraine; that’s really a discussion about defense, the use of defense in our worldview and ultimately how it impacts on our “relationship” with China. Vote for me, I’ll let you believe whatever it takes on all the above to make vote for me. But if you do, don’t be surprised if it seems I changed my mind (too busy getting elected to think about that).
jdcallow (milan)
Ross Douthat proposes a false equivalency. Newsom does not speak for all Democrats or even the base (assuming there is such a thing) let alone liberalism, but at a minimum DeSantis is by action and intent the reflection of the GOP base and by any definition true conservatism has become a bit player at best and more likely a spectator. There are other issues with this essay, such as how he cites a statistic, which may be true albeit from a highly partisan source, and then counters it with 3 anecdotal events that we must trust he has presented fairly. The assumption of fairness is blown-up when you read his stilted presentation of some examples of CAs actions. I do believe CA has governmental overreach issues, but presented falsely or in caricature does the opposite of what Douthat contends is his stated desire. I am in full agreement that we need to find a way to come together, but sadly it is not a union that is possible or recommended as long as one side finds its power via stoking anger at the expense of very complex and potentially existential threats.
Shiloh 2022 (New York NY)
A lot of words to say - Ross Douthat doesn't like science and progress. He'd rather live in a country where people are free to act in accordance with their beliefs rather than fact. No matter that those beliefs are almost always self-interested and come at the expense of others well-being. And Ross really hates it when the govt tries to impose fact-based standards, preventing people from acting in their self-interest. This column is everything wrong with conservatism.
doug (tomkins cove, ny)
I’ll cherry pick one partial sentence and acknowledge that very well could be unfair to Ross. “with federalist solutions, acceptance of pluralism and difference, a recognition that we can remain one country with, say, varying abortion laws” That sounds reasonable until one examines those varying abortion laws in the red states, you know the authoritarian laws that restrict citizens from leaving their state to seek reproductive care in another state, or having legal medicines sent to their homes to privately deal with a situation that’s none of their states business.
Joe Romero (N/A)
@doug Although I am pro-life, I partially agree with you here. States have no business restricting peoples’ right to travel. I’m not a legal expert, but I think that eventually those laws will be struck down.
skier 6 (Vermont)
@doug States are also passing extra territorial laws, that will empower vigilantism; allow individuals to sue Doctors, or even a volunteer driver, that provide access to abortions in a different State. Or track women that use fertility tracking aps, with laws, to permit State Agencies to track pregnant women, who suddenly are "not". Talk about 1984
Patricia (California)
@doug, it's important to mention that Ross doesn't really believe in states deciding abortion law. He's dissembling now because he's diverting from GOP threats of a nationwide ban, but a year ago he wrote a very passionate opinion supporting a constitutional ban on abortion. He wants the Supreme Court to rule that a right to fetal personhood can be found in the 14th Amendment. Zealots like Douthat want to make abortion illegal nationwide. They're not going to be satisfied with states like New York and Kansas allowing abortions. The movement's ultimate goal is a constitutional ban.
Terry (Central Coast, California)
Why would the FBI be looking at the poor social conservatives, who protest abortion? Could it have something to do with some of the statistics in 2021? Assaults against abortion clinics, patients rose 128% in 2021. A 600% increase in stalking. A 63% increase in burglaries. A 54% increase in acts of vandalism (which included multiple incidents of bullets being fired through clinic windows). A 163% increase in hoax devices or suspicious packages at clinics. An 80% increase in bomb threats. A 128% increase in invasions, including instances in which anti-abortion protesters forcefully entered clinics. How unfair of the FBI to persecute domestic terrorists? I am not saying all the demonstrators are domestic terrorists, but Mr. Douthat seems to think all of them are poor innocents.
Brian Whistler (Forestville CA)
Interesting that Ross conveniently left out the fact there have been dozens of shootings, bombings etc of abortion clinics across America ever since the 60s. Many of these resulted in the murders of doctors and staff. How many pro-choice clinics incidents from radical leftists have resulted in deaths? Note: I consider politically motivated violence that results in death as the ultimate form of cancel culture.
Keith (Tucked up against The Cascades)
@Brian Whistler Um, no. You're not helping. Nothing wrong with your view, but get the details correct. The first killing at an abortion clinic occurred in 1993, not "the 60's," and there have been only 7 documented attacks, not "dozens." If we're going to require that facts should matter to the MAGA bunch, then they have to matter to you, too.
Louie (Calitfornia)
There are rules, even in conflicts and war. The problem is one side refuses to adhere to them. They deny democracy by denying elections. They deny checks and balances by packing the courts. And they have no interest in coming to consensus, they just want power.
Joe Romero (N/A)
@Louie One could say similar things to what you are saying about some Republicans about some Democrats.
Newton Guy (Newton, MA)
There are no rules in war. Sorry to break it to you.
Bar Belly (San Francisco)
This essay fails when it doesn't accurately convey what Newsom does. What is interesting is not liberal platitudes but actions in this case. We've had some major changes lately: the Care Courts, to bring mentally ill folks who are a danger to themselves and others into treatment and many policies that give the state the power to overrule localities who resist building housing. (A problem Newsom would have as President is that he is accustomed to being effective in the context of a functional government.) I think many of these actions are ones that conservatives would support in principal, although they wouldn't work without funding which conservatives would not support. What Douhat does not say is that conservatives in practice prefer to keep taxes on the rich low over any social objectives.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Bar Belly: Progressive taxation was invented to prevent runaway wealth concentration leading to vast expenditures on political corruption.
Jason (Los Angeles)
@Bar Belly In the last 50 years, Democrats have had complete control of all branches of the Federal government and have had numerous opportunities to raise taxes on the rich if they so wanted. Turns out, Democrats also favor the rich.
Patricia (California)
@Jason, I've certainly been alive for the last 50 years, but we must have been living in different worlds. In my world, there were four Democratic presidents during this timeframe, and four Republican presidents. Democrats only had complete control of Congress (by which I mean a supermajority in the Senate) for about nine months during the Obama administration, during which they passed the ACA. Btw, Democrats did raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations during this period. The latest instance is the Inflation Reduction Act, passed earlier this year. We need to get beyond bumper sticker slogans.
LIChef (East Coast)
I’ll just take one example in this column on false equivalency and note that Catholic churches in California should not be required to provide abortion coverage for their employees . . . as long as they stop taking federal and state largesse and start paying taxes. The last time I checked, we taxpayers were subsidizing organized religion in the US to the tune of $80 billion, and that figure is probably too low. Catholics want it both ways: they want government aid and tax avoidance, but they don’t want to be told that everyone in their charge should be treated equally under the law. Some of us are fed up seeing the lavish, tax-free lifestyles of cardinals, bishops and other clergy who then head up to the pulpit to peddle politics, hate and divisiveness. Make them all pay taxes and follow the law like the rest of us.
duncan (Astoria, OR)
@LIChef " Catholics want it both ways: they want government aid and tax avoidance, but they don’t want to be told that everyone in their charge should be treated equally under the law." Actually, Catholics -- and seemingly a lot of Protestants (which is really historically strange) want to BE the government
Patricia (California)
@LIChef, good points. I would just add that Catholic churches in California don't provide abortion coverage for their employees and don't pay state taxes. Ross doesn't seem to understand how things work.
Robert Peak (Fort Worth)
the cry from the right regarding infringement of religious freedom rings hollow as I pass by churches on just about every street corner in my fair state. what is more disconcerting is the tax exempt status that many mega-churches enjoy while proclaiming from the pulpit their political choices rather than preaching Christ's radical message of inclusion.
JHM (Providence)
It's inevitable that VP Harris will not be the 2024 Democratic candidate?
Will (Orange County, CA.)
Douthat really is a Republican… he is trying to paint Newsome and Desantis as equivalents … Desantis is a climate denier, he recently had people arrested for voting and flew immigrants from TX to Martha’s Vineyard as a publicity stunt to appeal to the lowest common denominator with extreme cruelty to immigrants . And this is the same as California requiring medical insurance plans to provide for abortions to include religious organizations? Really ? These sorts of false equivalencies are horribly dishonest … there is no Democratic equivalent to attacking the Capitol Building or nominating a racist. Come on Ross, put your country over your party .
@Will Douthat put country over party? That's a laugh.
Night Falls (CA)
IMO RD has improved this week. Less sentences constructed like ocean going schooners coursing the 18th century waters with only a general direction, more of what appears to be facts about liberal enforcement of laws against Magaterians. Sorry RD, while you may be old school they are new breed. I had never heard of any of these infractions by liberals. But I will keep my eye out. We all want equal protection under the law. The thing about these columns that get into the weeds so to speak, is that the big issues get left off. The reason I am 'liberal' is not because my heart bleeds at the perceived injustices happening to every type of person, but rather because I want leaders who will try to protect the environment, and protect democracy, and not spout conspiracy theories. The maga candidates do not seem willing to be ready to concede any defeat, like their mentors Bolsonaro etc, and there goes the game of democracy. As far as climate change, it is an emergency. Even things like Lyme disease are directly affected by global warming. Those ticks are active more since the winters are weaker, and are now more ready to zap us. The whole country and China are in drought. Let us work on foundation issues: Democracy, Climate change, and then get mad that some fanatic abortion clinic ruffians got caught by the long arm of law.
Richard (Montana)
Instead of you conservatives encouraging greater tolerance by progressives, why don't you just say, "Forgive us for our racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, and our goal of turning the United States into an autocratic theocracy. We know not what we do" and leave it at that?
David (Montgomery Village)
Anti-abortion and pro-choice factions have never played on a level field. The anti-abortion faction was willing to do anything to get Roe overturned including corruption of our legal process for choosing the Supreme Court justices, thanks to Mitch McConnell. Please pardon my lack of sympathy in the current situation.
Mor (California)
Recently 538 political podcast quipped that the only place where Newsom is likely to be President is Twitter. Progressivism is unpopular even in California, let alone outside it. Groupthink, DEI brainwashing in schools, war on meritocracy in education (which leads to dismal test scores), letting criminals out of jail, and anti-racist witch-hunts are not a winning platform to run on. And no, don’t start on “but Trump”. First, nobody cares about Trump; he is a has-been. Second, saying that conservatives have their own witch-hunts is not going to cut it anymore as a defense of progressivism. It’s like the USSR trying to deflect every criticism of its system by pointing at the blemishes of capitalism. It did not work for socialism, and it’s not going to work for Newsom. If it really comes down to this pair running against each other, get ready for President DeSantis.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Mor: Public sectors of all mixed economies conduct socialism for the benefit of a nation's most influential political factions. Republicans on government payrolls are beneficiaries of socialism.
Richard (Montana)
@Steve Bolger "Republicans on government payrolls are beneficiaries of socialism." So are Republicans who take all allowable tax deductions, tax credits and other perks. Socialism is as socialism does.
Mor (California)
@Richard Socialism is the state's ownership of the means of production (Marx's definition), not cushy governmental jobs, or taxation, or Social Security, or any other irrelevant topic used by "progressives" to muddy the debate. Being a public servant has nothing to do with socialism. There are in fact countries in which the state owns or controls large swaths of the economy. Two examples are China and Venezuela. Which one should the US emulate?
Randy Watson (Madeira, Portugal)
The United States is the only first world free democracy in the world currently moving rightward on gay rights and abortion. I'm grateful that we no longer reside there.
John (OR)
@Randy Watson The "Right" believes they have the upper hand on the issue of abortion, politically, and want to Rush ahead to a new item from the playbook before there's a chance for review on the replay. Politics is the art of ... entertainment!
Richard (Montana)
@Randy Watson Hear, hear. Had it not been for COVID and other limiting factors, I'd be living in Spain or some other civilized country.
Jonathan (Seattle)
I sampled about 10 of the reported incidents on the provided link to a Catholic web site, and most were graffiti or posters. One was called a firebombing, but the newspaper story that was the source called it a “suspicious fire” that caused minor damage. In another case, protesters dug up bricks from a walkway and put them on the grass. Calling all these acts of violence is willful exaggeration and hardly compares to murder and assault of abortion providers.
Richard (Montana)
@Jonathan Please be aware that fact-checking has a distinct liberal bias.
Jack be Quick (Albany)
Mr. Douthat is having a nightfall over the prospect of Republicans winning the House and Senate and the creation of a Gilead nation.
Erik Baum (Madrid)
"liberalism staring down another electoral defeat" means what? We've had two elections since 2016, and both worked out pretty well for liberals.
timothy holmes (86351)
Ross belongs to the class of people, who through the exercise of reason, think through ideas and make careful decisions of what they believe, have faith in, and experience in their life. They also seem to be the hardest sometimes to convince behind their wall of 'reasoned' facts. What is the issue of abortion? Is it a question of life and death, questions and answers meant to motivate voters to vote in certain ways? Or is it not a question of in what ways the government can imprison your body, as one example? Which question would you want judges to decide? Certainly not questions of what is, when is, life. But the government control over matters of imprisonment, certainly is in their domain of interest.
Richard (Montana)
@timothy holmes "Ross belongs to the class of people, who through the exercise of reason ..." Wait. Ross is religious. Clear evidence that he doesn't exercise reason.
timothy holmes (86351)
@Richard You must be thinking of religious faiths that have God. Many do not use the God Idea. However, many can reason away liberal and conservative political beliefs, as a sign of primitive people in confusion over what is valuable.
Chris K (Boston)
Is a commitment to majoritarian democracy too thin to build a national consensus on? If so, that's too bad. I would take the kind of federalist detente that Ross refers to toward the end, but my guess is that Trumpist control of all three branches of government, should it happen, would lead fairly quickly to the imposition of one-size-fits-all policies - like a national ban of some kind on abortion - to all 50 states. In the meantime, I would welcome a 2024 election between Newsome and DeSantis, as it would offer just the kind of robust choice we need to be forced to confront rather than a repeat of Biden-Trump, which would basically be a declaration of national political bankruptcy.
nerdrage (SF)
"requirements that churches provide abortion coverage in their health plans" The solution is national single-payer health care. Why in the world are churches having to provide health care? That's just asking for trouble. But it's an outgrowth of the general idiocy of having employers provide health care at all. "prohibitions on state-sponsored travel to other states deemed too hostile to gay rights (currently 23 are on the list)." Why can't an employer mandate where their employees will travel when working for their paycheck? It's probably travel to some baloney conference on the taxpayer dollar anyway. If they need to talk to people in other states, use Zoom, save money.
Patricia (California)
@nerdrage, also, Ross is making an outright lie. The ACA specifically prohibits any state laws requiring religious institutions to provide abortion coverage. At best he's being paranoid, but I suspect he's fully aware of the lie.
n1789 (savannah)
Culture wars allow the most vicious of partisans, left and right, permission to engage in destruction and violence.
Patricia (California)
@n1789, true, but Ross is drawing a false equivalence. There's no way anyone can compare the violence against women's clinics and doctors over the decades to one firebombing of a pregnancy crisis center. He's making graffiti and spraypainting the equivalent of murder.
Craig (PA)
I believe that I've just read my very first politically balanced NYT Opinion piece! Thank you very much, conservatives appreciate the view from both sides. Another way to tell that it's balanced is that the liberal comments below are quite angry. Fantastic work, keep it up!
TheProf (Maine)
@Craig Not at all politically balanced. While using calm language, Douthat assumes that there is an essential equality between ideas on the left and on the right. Not so. Most of what the right wants is the right to dictate to people how to live their lives. Who one can marry. Who is worth supporting with health care. Who can be denied services or a seat at a lunch counter or on the bus. On the left, one is generally concerned with preserving rights... keeping people from telling you how to live your life. The positions are not balanced. Once is coercive, one permissive. And since Ross brought up public health, the alleged atrocities committed against religion were all based dispassionately upon data. People at religious worship simply did, in fact, spread covid more effectively than people at a supermarket. The fact that religion was involved is irrelevant. Ross wants good evangelicals to be able to call "Fire!" in a crowded theater simply because they are religious.
Rob (Atlanta)
@Craig It's kind of hard to take your opinion seriously on what is balanced, when your criteria is that it makes liberals angry.
Michael (In Real America)
@TheProf Your handwaving dismissal of any political positions you don't hold as being not equal to your stances makes you a stereotype of east coast, left-wing arrogance. But please do keep it loudly as possible .....Nov. is coming.
Barry (St Augustine, FL)
Beyond your interesting facts, I wonder how how Mr. Douthat would assess DeSantis inhumane treatment of immigrants in flying them to Martha's Vinyard. This lack of moral character demands not only some analysis, but also clear-cut condemnation.
Michael (In Real America)
@Barry Can't speak for RD but I would assess it as very effective....sorry don't accept your "inhumane" DNC talking point. I call it clear-cut leadership on an issue no one else seems able to budge.
Patricia (California)
@Rick, you really don't see anything wrong with tricking people onto an airplane, lying to them about their destination and what will happen to them, then failing to notify authorities on the other end about their arrival? The irony is that DeSantis' stunt will probably give his victims legal entry into the country on asylum grounds. I think the Martha's Vineyard incident showed us the best of humanity, and the worst.
NowCHare (Charlotte)
Rare as it may be, I have been on both sides of these issues. Both sides seem oppressive when in power but my experience is what guides me in my beliefs and I believe that many Americans are like me in that regard. These issues should not be regarded as personal identifiers for red team, blue team as the media loves to portray them but as right vs wrong. Personally, I don't care much which of these two men leads our country in the future but I do care that we stop destroying innocent lives. And for that, I would have to vote for DeSantis no matter how I feel about him personally.
John Terrell (Claremont, CA)
@NowCHare DeSantis will just “destroy innocent lives” in a manner more palatable to you: cutting childcare benefits, increasing child poverty, reducing access to children’s health care,… But at least women will be forced to give birth, so that will be a good thing right?
Bob (Evanston, IL)
@NowCHare DeSantis is Trump on steroids. He wants to be a dictator as much as Trump does.
Patricia (California)
@NowCHare, are you okay with women dying from preventable conditions like ectopic pregnancies or membrane rupture in pregnancy? Those are innocent lives. I don't see how anyone can be fine with these deaths in the twenty-first century.
Leland (Oregon)
When I started to read this article I was ready to attack Douthat for his use of anecdotes. I abhor the use of anecdotes (a popular tactic of the far right) because it’s lazy and because it’s too easy to pick and choose anecdotes to support one’s own argument. But as I read further into the article I began to understand where Douthat was going. The problem isn’t just the far right or the far left by themselves. The problem is the two things working against each other at the same time- dragging the rest of us down with them. I think the polarization of the country was inevitable given the nature of our two party system. I realize that the term “two party system” isn’t exactly correct, because there’s no prohibition against other parties. But the democrats and republicans have designed things in order to keep things the way they are. I don’t see a way out of this mess so long as the far left wing has influence or control over the Democratic Party and the far right wing has influence and control over the Republican Party.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@Leland ...At this point only one party has denied election results. Only one party attacked the capitol to prevent the transition of power. Only one party has denied climate change. Only one party has packed the Supreme Court. Only one party works overtime to restrict voting. Only one party openly panders to racism. Only one party denies equal rights to LGBTQ people. Only one party has purged members who have a dissenting view. The both sides do it is dishonest because that isn't what is happening.
Patricia (California)
@Leland, we don't have a two-party system if voters decide they want to give third parties a chance. But it's entirely up to you, not the Democrats or Republicans. Fight for ranked-choice voting in your state, and third parties will become viable. Alaska has ranked-choice voting, as do New York City and San Francisco. It will take effort and elbow-grease, but you have the ability to change things.
faivel1 (NYC)
Fascinating conversation on MJ " The Problem of Democracy" Debate between Mehdi Hasan and Shadi Hamid 'America, the Middle East, and the Rise and Fall of an Idea by Shadi Hamid Written by one of the most prominent experts on religion, democracy, and the Middle East Features dozens of interviews with senior U.S. officials and draws on hundreds of hours of conversations with Islamist activists and leaders in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, and Turkey Presents new interpretations of key moments of tension and internal division during the Obama and Bush presidencies Proposes an ambitious agenda for promoting democracy in the Middle East that would transform bilateral relationships in the region and the United States' engagement with Muslim electorates more broadly. Worth listening, I will send the link later, when it will be posted.'
Erik (Santa Monica)
I actually wasted my time clicking through about half of the links for the 75 "attacks" on pro-life organizations. The vast majority of it is spray painting, someone keyed a sign. There are a few broken windows, and a couple of firebombings. There's almost never a witness for any of it. But poor Mark Houck, who on two separate occasions shoved a 72 year old man to the ground, he's the real victim! Poor guy, it's getting to the point where a pro-life activist can't even commit violent assault against the elderly without Joe Biden coming to get you! If you look through the crimes against abortion clinics that result is prosecution, the main difference is that they are much worse than spray paint, and the the person is caught in the act. There isn't a single arrest for just spray paint against an abortion clinic, which seems to be the main pro-life claim for victimhood.
MEB (America)
@Erik you left out the part about the pro choicer verbally attacking the pro lifer’s child. This Does. Not. excuse shoving but it is an important part of the incident.
Patricia (California)
@MEB, Houck made the claim that the 72-year-old escort "harassed" his son. Nobody knows what this entails or whether it's accurate, but it's a fact that Houck shoved the escort to the ground. He's being prosecuted under the FACE Act (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act), which is a federal crime. The legal question is whether assaulting a clinic escort amounts to an attempt to intimidate those trying to enter a clinic.
Networthy (Everywhere)
Many Democrats exhibit open contempt toward anything "normie": America, whites, men, blue-collar workers, farmers, ranchers, rural residents, law enforcement, the military, football, capitalism, flyover states, Christianity, conventional gender roles, patriotism. It's kinda hard to win elections when people know that you belittle and disparage them. C'mon, NYT commenters, don't disappoint me: make my point for me.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Networthy: You are who you project. Have a wonderful life.
Richard (Montana)
@Networthy OK. I'm a married heterosexual white male with no children, and a proud atheist. I'm prochoice. I'm not racist. I'm not homophobic. I'm not xenophobic. I oppose the death penalty. I think anthropogenic climate change is occurring. I'm five-times vaccinated against COVID. ... Was that your point?
Richard (Montana)
The book "Beginner's Guide to Blasphemy" has an excellent analysis of the right's version of "freedom of religion," which transmogrified the intent of religious freedom restoration acts and the like to force Christianity on the rest of us.
Irving Franklin (Los Altos, CA)
The driving force behind reactionary Republicans is not race. It is religion. In America, racism has always been socially acceptable. But religion is the third rail of politics. Not until Americans turn their backs on the fraud of religion will this country ever extract itself from the morass of MAGAs, election deniers, climate foes, democracy opponents, and racists.
Jill (Des Moines)
How about rule by the majority and not straight, white Christian males? You know, Democracy? Sure, protecting the straight white Christian minority may look different than California, but many of the policies cited in this article are there to protect the interests of those not currently in power. Why should a church get a tax free status if it isn't following the rules of the country or state? It can pay taxes and not offer birth control or pro-choice options. Policies that work to encourage other states to adopt a more inclusive approach to its gay population seem reasonable. I'm not a historian, but I'm sure there were policies that Northern abolitionist states used to discourage the slave trade. That is a perfectly reasonable policy position. Moving in a backward slide towards the glory days of the 1950s where gays and lesbians were in the closet and women were having back alley abortions is not reasonable.
Tom (Two Places)
@Jill Please advise what churches are not following the rules of the country or state. And are you proposing all the charitable work that many churches do should be terminated?
nerdrage (SF)
@Jill Churches shouldn't be in the position of offering health care at all. Yeekers. That's just asking for trouble. But that's just an outgrowth of our screwed up health care system. Health care should be offered at the Federal level. We should all get the same sweet deal that Congress does.
Patricia (California)
@Tom, those churches who openly support candidates for office are violating our laws. Churches that want to maintain their tax-exempt status can support causes, but not candidates. I went to one such mega-church in Dallas. They actually printed out lists of favored candidates for their parishioners. Charitable work is fine, but operations like pregnancy crisis centers should not be considered charitable organizations.
Douthat, as usual, elides reality to show a liberal bias that doesn't exist. He writes, "French’s examples include attempts to force pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise abortions" I don't know if this is right or wrong. I don't know if it's exactly true. But I do know that many states require abortion providers to perform ultrasounds on pregnant women, force mandatory counseling and waiting periods for women who want abortions. Many states also require onerous, unnecessary and necessarily expensive outfitting of clinics that provide abortions. Yet somehow, this is not part of the culture wars he decries.
sophia (bangor, maine)
@JP : Ross's mind can make huge jumps in inconsistency, as can all conservatives. Don't like a fact? Just ignore it.
Alba (Mexico)
Hmm Ross, I wonder why anti-abortion protesters and activists get dealt with more swiftly by law inforcement than pro-choice activists? Maybe it's the 11 murders of abortion providers and numerous attempted murders of health professionals doing their jobs at U.S. clinics over the years. Sort of gets my attention more than property defacement.
nerdrage (SF)
@Alba Yeah this article is an exercise in false equivalency.
Scott Wilkinson (Eugene, Oregon)
It blows my mind how many readers here have essentially commented: “You’re CRAZY Ross—Republicans and Conservatives are EVIL, period!” (I guess it is the NYT after all.) It saddens me deeply the extent to which people would rather fight to the death than make peace. In the long run, making peace is the ONLY option, and it will require significant concessions from BOTH sides (evil or not). I’m just floored by how many people fail to realize this, and instead scream “NEVER!” Let’s just hand the whole mess off to our kids. Let them deal with it, because we sure aren’t.
Richard (Montana)
@Scott Wilkinson It might be helpful if we just started characterizing Republicans and their handlers for what they are: misanthropic.
sophia (bangor, maine)
@Scott Wilkinson : If a law was suddenly passed that allowed the State to harvest bodily organs from healthy men to men who would die if they didn't get the organ, would you feel your right as a human to keep all your own organs was taken away? Women MUST have control of their own bodies. Period. If a woman does not ever want to have an abortion, that is her choice. If she is forced to have an unwanted child, that is servitude and bondage. I imagine the past military draft comes closest to a man losing his rights when a woman does not have to sign up for the draft. I don't think that's right either. All Americans should serve something as a civic duty - military or support for military, social service commitments, etc. But now that we don't have the draft, men have no equivalency to what a woman must go through. And, you know, this is just the beginning. After this they will go after contraception. Conservatives do not want women succeeding without men and they will do what it takes to force women into servitude.
John (OR)
@Scott Wilkinson Indeed, it's reminiscent of all the folks going to last weekends storytime event in Eugene with long and other sorts of guns to peacefully protest against 'those people.'
BP (Seattle, Earth)
"classical-liberal niceties" are the only thing keeping us from the Dark Ages and despotism. Individual rights, rule of law, respect for facts and fairness are all that's keeping us from going over the edge.
Tired of tipping (Los Angeles, CA)
"Imagine your way into the other faction..." THIS is the problem with so-called conservatives today. They do not consider their fellow Americans as equal, nor can they fathom that the majority of us do not agree with their positions.
Drew (Seattle)
The problem with Douthat's and the Right's concept of 'religious liberty' is that it means that a minority of people get to curtail the lawful activities of other citizens based on the proclamations of an invisible omnipotent deity with divine authority. 'It is so because my all-powerful, all-seeing, all knowing god says it is so'. But whose god? Is it so hard to understand why this is a very bad foundation on which to base a government? Our government insures that even though religious conservatives make me extremely uncomfortable, if I have have a bakery that serves the public, I still need to make a wedding cake for them. Sorry. Same rules for everyone is the better way to go.
Galileo (NJ)
I think progressives have a huge blindspot when it comes to their own willingness to violate law and civil liberties to advance their agenda. Their conceit is that their views by definition represent "progress," and are not merely preferences to be balanced against the preferences of others. Because they assume their own moral superiority, their opponents are necessarily evil and retrograde. So they tend to justify or rationalize bad behavior because they think they're "on the right side of history." Kudos to Douthat for pointing out that illiberalism occurs on both sides of the political spectrum.
Richard (Montana)
@Galileo You might be correct. Maybe there is no real difference between rightwing and leftwing activists -- except that the one group walks around with assault rifles.
sophia (bangor, maine)
@Galileo It's a good thing those past progressives gave us the 40 hour week so that Americans have at least a bit of life to themselves. It's a good thing those past progressives pushed for higher standards for food and safety and pushed for clean water and other aspects of our world that help all of us. Yeah, those darn progressives wanting to make life better for the most Americans possible. Darn them!
John (OR)
@Richard When you can't win with ideas, tote out the gunz.
Joe You (NYC)
Pop quiz. Have more despondent people left Venezuela for the US? Or from California to other states? The great migration from California the last two years says a lot about the policies and life under Newsome.
John (OR)
@Joe You Says more about tax subsidies and avoidance schemes doled out in other states trying to be tax havens big and small.
Tom (Two Places)
@John What taxes are people avoiding? Moving to Texas doesn’t eliminate your federal tax burden. Perhaps people, like myself, are extremely unhappy with how our state and local taxes dollars are spent and see little value in return for our investment.
Elaine (Redwood City)
Ironically, most people are leaving California because it's too expensive, especiallyhousing, because there are too many people here. Because it's a great place to live.
Elton (Denmark)
Excellent article!
Ami (California)
DeSantis is much better than (spoiled rich kid) Newsom. California is a high-taxed progressive disaster.
Jill (Des Moines)
@Ami That's why so many people live and travel there. I just had a wonderful vacation there and I'm hugely envious of people that get to live there.
DR (Westchester County, NY)
@Ami Then move to Florida. No income tax, sun, fun, humidity and freedom. You'll have a governor you support, cheer on the migrants being hauled out of Texas on your dime - and be under the governance of a man whose has power and ambition over your rights. Newsom isn't great either. I left CA because in the 11 years I lived there, I saw a decline in living and rise in cost of living and homeless - not to mention rampant crime. So - why not move to Florida if you hate Newsom so much? Ronnie would love your vote.
David (Montgomery Village)
@Ami So don't live there.
Chris Martin (Alameds)
For the past 50 years more and more aggressive mobs have regularly gathered outside of abortion clinics. Doctors who provide abortions have actually been assassinated and vandalism has been common practice. But now we all need to live together in peace. As for "freedom of assembly", the lockdowns were a serious drag on the in person organizing of the Sanders campaign but we didn't whine about it like the megachurches.
johnlo (Los Angeles)
There's a substantial difference. When DeSantis went after Disney in reaction to it's political attacks on Him, he took away the special privilege the government granted to Disney decades ago. When the California Democrat ruled government goes after progressive dissenters they hamper the dissenters ability to undertake a lawful career pursuant to the laws that otherwise apply to all. It's the progressives that are the proverbial brown shirts.
Maxwell's Demon (St. Pete)
Ross, Ross, Ross until we liberals start forcing people to have abortions against their will there is no equivalence between groups agitating for the right to chose their destiny and those who would arrogate that choice unto themselves. I am not an advocate of violence, however, when you leave people without alternatives you would be most naive not to expect some will be desperate enough to resort to it. Meanwhile you might want to look up the photo recently published in The Guardian of a petri dish with several embryos in various stages of development up to 10 weeks. Then find a random photo of a 10 year old girl and imaginer her having to travel hundreds of miles from home to have that rapists residue removed. Get back to us when you gain some perspecetive and humility.
CWS (California)
You think politics is a culture? How? Politics is the result of the systematic failures of the fed government portrayed by actors (senators and representatives and a rotating leader (President)) to pontificate a "better" solution to the people. Our state and federal governments are fueled by capitalism and big money the electorate doesn't ever represent. Our politicians and media (its the channel they use) polarize and segment the peasant electorate with dreams and lies that "their party" is the better way. It appears contemporary liberalism is socialism, and contemporary conservatism is fascism/nationalism. There is no middle ground now and going forward. How did you ever think we need or could ever have a partisan leader? The last 20 years any partisanship has been replaced by executive orders and budget reconciliation. Partisanship isn't how it works nor is how the ruling political parties want it to work especially in the age of the smartphone. Sad one party didn't play nice and realized all the power is in the Senate and packed the Supreme court with Republic-ans whose focus are states rights. Shocker Conservatives want to empower the states, liberals want to empower the federal government. My advice is to move to a state who "values" reflect more of how you want to live. The Conservatives have castrated the federal government with the Supreme Court. Move and don't look back. There is no chance this country will be driven or lead by the Federal Government for decades.
Adele (Montreal)
I have always been left wing. I remain committed to left wing principles, but the left wing itself has left the building. It is not liberal to force injections on people who don't want them. Or to give billions to Big Pharma with no questions asked. It's not liberal to force people to use language they don't want to use. Or to tell children they can be born in the wrong body and allow them to be mutilated. It's not liberal to engage children in adult conversations about sex or bring night-club acts into schools to groom them to accept sexuality at an early age. No one has been more surprised than me that Ron DeSantis would be a better liberal than Newsom, but that's where we are. I do not like DeSantis' work to limit abortion. But I like everything else about him. I don't like anything about Newsom. It's a weird situation for a liberal to be in, but I hope DeSantis runs for president and wins, and I hope access to abortion drugs undermines Republican efforts to limit abortions. Not a perfect solution, but better than having a "progressive" despot in charge.
David (Chicago)
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
Cowboy Marine (Colorado Trails)
@Adele What makes me scratch my head are things like in what was by far the worst year of the American polio epidemic in the 1950s there were 58,000 cases and 3200 deaths, and Americans were ecstatic to have their kids vaccinated and to this day they must be vaccinated to attend school, but when Covid kills more than a million people there are so many Americans afraid of bring vaccinated and/or won't because they view it as taking away their freedoms. I don't get it.
John (OR)
@Cowboy Marine Wait a minute, did you just offer vindication to the Right being correct in their claim about the failure of public education? I bet Ross will try and run with it.
Alberto Abrizzi (Bay Area)
Progressive has become downright aggressive, fueled by presumed moral certainty of their of their positions. It no longer fair and equal, today’s progressives insist that all Americans adopt their acceptance of how gender, race, parenting and religion should be thought of and practiced. Supporting the rights and freedoms of LGBT is no longer enough, I must submit my child to third grade school curriculum, guidance and content that causes them to question their own gender. Or a male women’s swimmer. CRT—a graduate course—is not taught in public schools. It’s practiced! And when even Fauci says the chances of passing Covid outside is like getting hit twice by lightning, the woman in Half Moon Bay scolds me for walking along the beach path without a mask. Let’s not even talk about school union BDS efforts across CA. Biden may have declared me the most dangerous threat to the nation, but I have never been a MAGA person. But these progressive lean-ins ain’t just ruffling the feathers of GOPs, also democrats and independents. And it’s encouraged from the top.
mzmecz (Florida)
This nation was founded with a principle of the separation of church and state. Churches tend to the belief that the fetus is a person with legal rights at conception. The non-religious believe each person has rights to their own body. The freedom our Constitution established for the individual is like the free will given Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.
Phoenix (New Jersey)
You are portraying the pro-life argument as purely religious, and that if one rejects religious authority, there is no more debate to be had regarding abortion. But that isn't necessarily the case. Some atheists and secularists are opposed to abortion, and even many religious people present non-religious arguments against abortion. In fact, the classic pro-life argument that a fetus (at some point in the pregnancy, not necessarily conception) is a life and the choice of the mother shouldn't take precedence over the life of the fetus isn't a religious argument. I am pro-choice but I think it's important to steel man the arguments of the other side, and the pro-life position isn't only "because God says so."
Ron (Lng beach ca)
How to parse an issue evenly? When describing sins against pro-life Douthat cites pro-life group’s report that lumps graffiti and vandalism in with arson and fire bombs. He does so without citing a specific instance. Apparently no serious media outlet or police department are putting these on the public record. But the arrest of an 87 year old who blocked a clinic door and a father who assaulted a clinic employee for saying god knows what to his son are proof positive of sins on the left. Other false equivalencies regarding government actions are strewn through the latter half of his column. Really Ross, please try to call the balls and strikes evenly or clearly state your bias upfront.
Sage (Santa Cruz)
As a citizen of California, and familiar with the rule of the current governor, I would not look forward to further progress of either of these two deceitful self-serving politicians. They epitomize some of the worst failures of America's now thoroughly decrepit if not destructive two party duopoly. Where in this US Constitution or in US political tradition can this kind of thunderous roadblock to common sense and the public interest claim any shred of legitimacy ?
Daoud (al Needleawi)
When even Ross Douthat of the New York Times is able to see the naked politicization of the FBI, maybe it's time for that organization to be honest. Simply relabel themselves the DNCFBI, and declare that all political opponents of the DNC will be gone after with the full force of the state and its law enforcement. Something like Beria's "find me the man, and I'll find you the crime" just updated for the sensibilities of progressives. I'd argue that the break up of the United States is probably a good thing for traditional Americans. Do you really want progressives emigrating to your still functioning municipalities, then voting for the policies that enable crime, corruption, and literal defecation in the streets like San Francisco? Do you want an open link so that your town can be turned into yet another Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, etc? Establishing borders and preventing this culture from openly invading your still-functioning town is quite arguably preferable.
Rolfe (Kennebunkport)
@Daoud You speak like someone who has NEVER meet an FBI agent in person. And, like someone who doesn't remember Comey, then head of the FBI, commenting on Clinton's e-mails just before the 2016 election. You also speak like someone who is completely unaware that blue states (and even blue cities in red states) account for most of the GDB and, through the tax code subsidize, red states and the rural red. I KNOW facts aren't a big thing on the right, but you might wish to do just a little research into actual facts before you cut off your nose to spite your face.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Daoud: The FBI has been Republican-dominated from the beginning. There has never been a Democratic FBI Director.
Robert Roth (NYC)
@Daoud My guess in your romanticized enclaves there are people marginalized. exploited stigmatized by some hideous notions of "normalcy," cruelly mocked and punished for who they are and who they are trying to be. While you stand there applauding, cheering on the abusers or just fully oblivious to what is going on. Well even in those enclaves there is ferment. a move towards a world that will be much freer and humane than the one you are trying to defend.
JP (San Francisco)
Virtually every institution of government is corruptly stacked in your favor, including the so-called “Supreme Court.” What are you complaining about?
Joe You (NYC)
One has failed policies and a mass migration out of his state. One has implemented policies that drive wildfires and destruction and carbon emmissions via rules that block the clearing of brush, underbrush and trees. One has had a recall, even by his nutty Cali voters. The other has clear headed polices that are working. Outcomes matter. Data matters. Facts matter. Vote with your head, not your heart. Even Desantis' covid policies have proven to be correct, despite the early doubts we all had. School closures hurt children, very badly. Trauma. Social isolation. Massive drops in test scores. Desantis polices have worked well, dear reader. Facts matter.
KevBob (Novato)
I’ll take our economy over Florida’s any day of the week-we are about to overtake Germany as the fourth largest economy in the world… Also, our governor pledged in a debate last week to serve his full four year term in office. Anyone who thinks Desantis isn’t going to run for president in ‘24 after serving one year & change in his new term is delusional…
Comet (Central New Jersey)
@Joe As a Florida resident for over a decade beginning in the late 70's,Florida's economy was described as a three-legged stool- real estate, tourism and agriculture. Much of the agriculture has gone south to Brazil or west to California since then. Each of the legs of the stool have been, and will continue to be, profoundly affected by climate change, but the Florida government continues to act as if "life is a cabaret." Good luck with that.
Erik (Santa Monica)
Mark Houck assaulted a 72 year old man, shoving him to the ground on 2 separate occasions. The victim was serving as an escort at an abortion clinic. The reason there are escorts is because pro-life protestors are so verbally and physically abusive that people need someone to guide them through the cordon of abuse to enter a clinic. But Ross has no sympathy for a 72 year old victim of pro-life violence. And those poor 11 pro-life protesters who "used force and physical obstruction to injure, intimidate and interfere with employees of the clinic and a patient who was seeking reproductive health services." Old Ross has a real soft spot for violence against abortion clinics, I guess. One of them was 87, and she broke a law, and they live-streamed their crime. But it's a mystery to Ross as to why the DoJ goes after these people and not someone who spray-painted a door at 3 am.
Amused (Niagara Falls, NY)
We can talk about the clash of these ideas all day, but our conclusions would be fruitless. One only need contrast the two realities borne forward by these two individuals, one from which people are fleeing and another to which people are speeding—thousands of them. California is living now with the fallout of a dreamocracy, a system which complete ignores stubborn facets of human nature.
@Amused Florida gets $1.24 for every dollar it sends to the Federal government. California gets $1.00. Maybe some patterns have to do with this reality.
Kari (Northern Michigan)
This "intellectual" take on politics is nauseating.
Milton (New York)
Ross Douthat’s willfully ignorant practice of citing the most extreme occurrences of overreaction by anyone at any time to very very real, documented threats from right wingers as if they were equal crises to the constant threat of science denying, fact denying, democracy-opposed, rule of law opposed, violent, bigoted Republicans simply proves time and time again how morally and logically bankrupt his position is.
Alan MacDonald (Wells, Maine)
Ross, IMHO, "these 'TIMES' they are a-changing" progressively, but far too slowly, when it almost got its teat caught in the truth-ringer regarding the very ugly situation of trying to protect its veritas at Penn State: "Pennsylvania State University canceled a planned comedy event on Monday that was to be co-hosted by the founder of the Proud Boys, a far-right group, after a demonstration against the speakers turned violent." What with the closeness in fascism raising its ugly head regarding the 'Times' unfortunate timing of having to publish something about “Camp Siegfried” and, at the same time, make the call on running the story of "Inevitable Culture War" bidness for Pennsylvania State University's top management having to handle two 'hot potatoes' --- some readers might wonder why the 'Times' top management didn't initially see the fairly obvious 'headline' potential News and Opinion culture political-value in integrating these 'Hot' approaching Voting-Issues --- with respect to whether increasing violence could very well be the deciding factor in which of these contending Parties is a good bet to 'Choose' with LOVE, or 'Lose' with VIOLENCE Tough-call for Senior C-Suite management at both Universities and Newspapers, eh?
Erik (Santa Monica)
Have you consider the reason why there are so many more arrests is because the violence and crime is overwhelmingly committed by the pro-life people, and that the only reason why you're hearing about "Jane's Revenge" is because right wing propaganda networks are endlessly creating conspiracies about what is probably someone spray painting their own building for attention? Pro-life people commit crimes in broad daylight in front of witnesses. They commit assault, stalking, trespassing, and invasion. Pro-choice crimes are all suspiciously have no witnesses. Maybe the reason why neither federal nor local law enforcement is catching anyone committing crimes against pro-life organizations is because it isn't real? Have you ever heard of a protest at a crisis pregnancy center? Is that even a thing? Google around, I can't find one. Now look for videos of abortion clinic protests. See the difference? This sounds like those Trump voters who spray paint Antifa slogans on their own property to me.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Erik: When fascists aren't violently opposed they usually create their own violent opposition.
Rick Hawksley (Kent Ohio)
The difference Ross is that DeSantis wants to take away rights, and Newsome defends them. I know that you view everything through the religious “liberty” perspective, by which you mean the right of fundamentalists and catholics to deny the rights of gays and women, but your equivalence is laughable. Is justice being pursued unequally? Perhaps. Is fire bombing criminal, of course. You seem tone deaf to how radical Dobbs is. It has unleashed a hatred for so called pro-lifers who only care about control. I am saddened that so many who call themselves Christians are so self-centered that they want to win this culture wall at all costs.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Rick Hawksley: These people take huge liberties to impose themselves on people who want no business with them. Freedom from religion is scorned by them.
digbydolben (Alexandria, Egypt)
" definitely need the “plus” to fully resolve questions like, “Is abortion a form of murder or a fundamental right?” or “Is it child abuse to give teenagers puberty blockers or child abuse to refuse them?..." You need orthodox--meaning non-fundamentalist Judaeo-Christianity--because, other than some forms of Hinduism, Buddhism or Sufi Islam--there is no other system of faith to provide a humane context for deciding these issues. And the from of religion I'm recommending is almost unknown in America; even America's variant of Catholicism is a fundamentalist, watered-down and anti-intellectual version that can have no truck with John Henry Newman's "The Development of Christian Doctrine."
Tintin (Midwest)
The problem on the Right is that too many of its adherents reject facts and truth for a delusion or a fantasy. They bond together over a false reality. The problem on the Left is that too many of its vocal proponents are convinced they are more morally developed than even their own fellow liberals: They then compete among themselves to be seen as more enlightened and more woke than everyone else in the room. The result for the Right is a strong sense of cohesion and belonging, but a departure from truth. The result for the Left is the alienation of potential allies, poor cohesion, and very a individualized sense of "being better".
John (OR)
@Tintin But they relish following the Newt's admonition to be more nasty.
PAF (Minneapolis)
Of course Ross would flip Frank Wilhoit’s aphorism to attempt to apply it to liberals — accusing your opponents of exactly what you’re doing is the first rule of conservative politics. But liberals, even progressives, don’t throw bombs just because their base loves to see the world burn (as long as they believe they are hurting the right people), unlike the conservative base. The laws and actions taken by liberal governments are generally in the pursuit of justice as opposed to punishing groups their base hates and fears, which has been DeSantis’ MO for years. Just because conservatives now believe pretty much any hatred or prejudice can be justified by hiding behind “religious freedom” doesn’t mean the rest of the country is going to go along with it. Of course, the fact that conservatives profess to be against big government until they suddenly find it politically useful is a part of liberals’ objection to DeSantis. But the real issue is that he is a champion of hate, punching down against already-disadvantaged groups because his base is terrified of the end of white straight male Christian dominance. He’s a schoolyard bully, so of course the right loves him. Whether hate is enough to win beyond a governor’s office will be the test of the country over the next few years.
Oh, such dark forces of Liberalism Douthat has uncovered! He writes: "For abortion opponents, though, it’s been hard not to notice the contrast between the slow-seeming federal response to the wave of violence and the vigor with which the government has been pursuing anti-abortion protesters lately." Then he details that it took a year to arrest a man who allegedly assaulted an abortion clinic volunteer. Which seems like a pretty slow-seeming response. He's trying to halfway, kind of, sort of, allege a conspiracy because charges haven't been unveiled in (at most) five months after alleged vandalism occurred, AND ALSO BECAUSE it took a year to charge someone who allegedly committed violence against an abortion clinic volunteer. No doubt, it is liberalism's fault. And that conservatives are the victim. I wonder how many columns he has written about all the white supremacist violence in the US, which the FBI has claimed is the most dangerous domestic terror threat.
Lpb (Ny)
This is the best, most timely editorial — and the most depressing. Mr. Douthat lays out why so many of us are now registered “Independent”, because both sides have twirled down into insanity. What both Democrats and Republicans now consider acceptable and desirable elicit an Ed Munch “Scream” out of us in the middle. Both Dems and Reps have become utterly incapable of looking in the mirror and realizing they have devolved into madness. They both hold on to ideas that at any other time would have been instantly and easily deemed as “lunacy” and extreme beyond the pale. And both sides have regressed to infantile un-American intolerance.
aries (colorado)
The cultural conflicts are preventable with education. Yet after seeing the pitiful NAEP results yesterday, for a nation of learners, we have a long way to go, especially in my state. Closely I am watching one local story and am questioning the educational backgrounds of two candidates running for a House of Representative seat in District 3. Who would you vote for? An angry, shouting, gun-toting mother of four who earned a GED two months before she was elected; also calling the Jan 6 Insurrection our "1776 moment"? or a CU graduate, moderate who describes himself “as a pro-business, pro-energy, moderate, pragmatic Democrat,” who can build coalitions and get stuff done. If elected, he said he would seek to join the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. In my view, we need more people who can solve problems instead of causing them.
Ernest Skimore (Quebec City Canada)
It sounds like both california and Florida have gone to extremes. If the right to an abortion, upto a certain term was a federal law, which I believe Biden needs to enshrine in law, then states would have ensure that access to abortions is provided, maybe not by all clinics but that reasonable access is ensured, clinics who do not provide the service need to be able to provide information where those services are provided. The right to abortion needs to be enshrined in law and supported across the US and respect that some institutions may choose not to provide those services but must comply in referring patients to facilities that do. There is ground between Desantis and Newsom to accommodate both sides as long as Biden is able to enshrine the right to accessible provision of abortion services as a federal law.
Gabriel (New Haven)
@Ernest Skimore unfortunately that’s not how the federal government in this country works…. Biden can’t do that. It would never pass congress and any executive action would immediately get caught up in lawsuits.
JM (San Francisco)
@Ernest Skimore It's going to take a bold, confident, articulate Governor Newsome to systematically and surgically expose the pure evil of Ron DeSantis. (IF there is anything left of Ronny after Trump attempts to destroy this disloyal ingrate) By the time these two face off, Newsome will be been Governor of the 4th largest economy of the entire world. And dumb DeSantis will still be enmeshed in lawsuits for his colossal stupidity in lying and kidnapping legal asylum seekers from another state and then illegally dumping them in far away locations far from their immigration attorneys. I think that's called a Felony for "Interstate Human Trafficking" (add a few more years because many were minors). So Ron, there were no "Common Sense 101" classes at that ivy league you attended?
Dan M (Seattle)
Most people in this country are not weirdos obsessed with what happens in the body of a woman they are not related to. The recipe for turning down the temperature is simple. Effective governance that does stuff the large majority already wants: rebalancing taxes by taxing rich people more, building effective infrastructure, and checking corporate control over people’s lives. Although the recipe is simple, actually accomplishing this will be much more difficult. The fact that neither DeSantis or Newsom is fully pursuing this path is instructive.
Anonymous (USA)
You're missing the forest from the trees. Most of the examples you portrayed may be summed up as mere transgressions. You left out two major issues that have profound impact on the well-being of the country between the two factions: 1. Violence 2. Truth. Examples: January 6 coup de'dat by pro Trump groups and President Biden election win denials by millions of Republicans without a scintilla of evidence of election fraud.
Jonathan (Seattle)
@Anonymous And again demonstrating the point of the article, an incredible amount of violence and property destruction was ignored and even encouraged in the aftermath of George Floyd, much of which had nothing to do with the actual sad situation itself. And "election denial" is not something that began in 2020 and is not exclusive to Republicans.
dave (pnw)
@Jonathan your argument is like saying that the press is focusing to much on lynching's and not enough on the "crimes" people commit - you are ignoring systemic and widespread injustice to myopically focus on individual bad actors
@Jonathan Much of the "violence and property destruction" after George Floyd's death was caused by the far-right. Like the Minneapolis police station--right wing violence. As it stands, even with all the BLM protests of 2020, the primary domestic terror threat, according to the FBI, is white supremacist violence.
John Marshall (New York)
Ah yes, in Ross' world, freedom means having your life controlled by your employer. If you're employer says your healthcare can't cover a medical decision, that's freedom. But a State saying that an employer has to provide CHOICE to its employees is not freedom. One might say Ross is living in an Orwellian fantasy land where War Is Peace. Freedom Is Slavery. Ignorance Is Strength.
citizen vox (san francisco)
So much political philosophizing at a time of very real, very concrete problems in our everyday iives. But I kept reading to see what Douthat, this very conservative opinion writer had to say about Newsom. The complaint turned out to be one of violating the First Amendment; Newsom would silence scientists who spread misinformation about Covid 19. Well gee; the UK revoked the medical license of the British doc who tied vaccines to autism. I guess Douthat would say it's a shame the Brits don't have our freedom of speech. Myself, I haven't thought much about Newsom; I'm dubious about almost all politicians. But my ears picked up a few months ago when I heard Newsom's plan on the high price of insulin; he would have California manufacture its own insulin. If California, with its huge economy can do this, why not? It is a fact diabetics are dying trying to stretch out their supply of this life saving drug. Last Sunday, I watched Newsom debate his opponent in the gubernatorial race. I was impressed; it's been years since I heard a Democrat speak with such clarity and fight in his voice and words. He was vibrant, alive and fast with repartee, showing a good command of factual information. Do we have other sharp Democratic candidates? I'd like to see Newsom along with other Democrats compete in an open primary in 2024. Let's pick the best in 2024.
Jonathan (Seattle)
@citizen vox You may find consulting other sources of information such as the WSJ - as one example - on Newsom's behavior and actual policies. Speaking well does not equate to positive governance. Especially for one who insists on the virtues of locking down schools across his entire state longer than any other state while sending his own kids to private schools, one who consistently violated his own lockdown and masking policies, and one who thinks a central state medical committee should be the only arbiter of "correct" medical policy and treatment in a medical and scientific community that only advances through innovative thinking and treatments over time - often against conventional consensus. Newsom is 1984 personified.
citizen vox (san francisco)
@Jonathan My comment was I was thrilled to hear a live, fighting Democrat and I want an open presidential primary with Newsom and other alive, fighting Democrats to compete with each other. I'm open to reading WSH and other arguments against Newsom; please provide some links. As for medical "correctness," I have an MD and an MPH in Epidemiology; I am entirely in favor of "correct" medicine, having spent years learning how to do it. And in times of crisis, such as the Covid 19 pandemic, we need state and federal leadership that is consistent. In a battle with a deadly virus, as in battles of war, generals are needed, even if they're surgeon generals. It is for lack of national leadership in the early weeks of Covid 19 that the US has the highest mortality rates from Covid 19 among peer countries. I also have sent my children to private schools while campaigning for better public schools. My children are now full adults and I'm still campaigning to get public schools to teach reading. It is not inconsistent to buy food for your family while also working to feed the world. The closing of public schools is determined by local school boards. I know; SF just recalled three school board members for keeping SF schools closed while the Board worked on politically correct names for schools. So please don't lecture me on our local politics a few states south of you.
Practical Thoughts (East Coast)
Unless our political leadership morphs into Stateswomen and Statesmen, the professional polarization of America will lead to either extreme federalism or outright breakup. You can't force laws on someone if that someone feels the laws are unjust. Supreme Court or not. During the Slavery era, abolitionists helped slaves escape. During Prohibition, speakeasy bars were rampant in East Coast Cities. The same will be with these Culture Wars. Part of the bargain with living in a free country is that in exchange for your right to live your life that right has to be extended to the next person, even if you don't like them. The Right has forgotten this.
Stan Smart (Cincinnati, OH)
So has the "left"!
Practical Thoughts (East Coast)
@Stan Smart Taking away someone's right is not the same as having to tolerate another person's exercise of a right you don't like.
poster (world)
Think bigger. Stop advocating polarization. Peace.
kpk (FL)
the anti-abortion crowd has been harassing women who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional right to obtain medical care for decades. taunting them as they try to enter the medical facility. screaming in their faces, calling them murderers. threatening physicians who provide these services, even killing them in some cases. bombing clinics. that's all fine, though, right?
Dman (California)
When every “pro-life” state outlaws the death penalty, then I’ll listen. Until then, no. To be clear, I respect peoples’ individual,opinions on abortion, but at a government policy level applied to everyone regardless of their beliefs, it’s not credible.
Mike (Phoenix)
Cannot vote for any republicans without trampling on my morals. Sorry GOP. You lost a vote this cycle. What happened to truth, justice, and the American way?
Steve (Virginia)
I am uncertain whether we agree investigating "graffiti" is a worthwhile use of the FBI's time.
Kohl (Ohio)
The reason both of these suboptimal politicians are so popular right now is because too many people would rather see their political opponents punished, than sound policy or governing.
Rich (California)
I despise the right; I despise the (far) left. Lifelong Dem and still a liberal but I left the Dem party recently for independence due to its kowtowing to the progressives, who are as "religious" as the Trumpists. It would be so easy for the Dems if they only learned that moderate politics is what so much of the country, especially moderate liberals are desperate for. (It would help if moderates would speak up more and show some courage.) But Dem leaders can't be bothered. They'd rather lose elections (and the country) rather than push back against the "woke" folks on the left.
Renee M (CA)
@Rich Proof that right-wing propaganda works, even on self-proclaimed moderates. The cynical right-wing myth of “woke” is as real as the myth of Republicans being for family values or fiscally responsible.
Rich (California)
@Renee M This is the problem. Dogmatic thinking. "Woke" people can't see they are part of the problem. They don't even know they're "woke." Or whatever word is the word of the moment to describe progressive thought.
Bruce B (New Mexico)
The political divide and "culture war"are the result of two drastically different moral worldviews. The Republican worldview and policies favor men over women, employers over employees, Christians over non-Christians, whites over nonwhites, straights over LGBTQ, humankind over nature, “strongmen,” theocratic, & authoritarian leaders and government over democracy, the private over the public, guns over people, and the rich over the poor. Democrats have empathy and believe in personal & social responsibility, fairness, equality, opportunity, justice, equity, diversity, freedom, cooperation, trust, the common good, and a democracy based on “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Here are some of the things Democrats want and support. Democrats believe the rich should pay their fair share in taxes. Democrats want to protect workers, consumers, & the environment. Democrats believe social programs and safety nets are necessary (including Social Security, Medicare, & Medicaid). Democrats support a living wage. Democrats want to preserve civil right, freedoms, and liberties. Democrats believe people need access to affordable healthcare and health insurance (universal). Democrats believe in gun safety. Democrats support public resources and the infrastructure. We need a democratic society based on the Democratic worldview.
Marian (Montville)
There is a better way to measure who is right. Let’s look at under whose guidance are the states doing better. People are fleeing California while Florida is gaining hundreds of thousand new residents. People are voting with their feet.
John (Manhattan)
@Marian Cheap, available housing is not usually a great sign that people -want- to be there, it's a sign that the people who are already there are desperate to shore up their tax base. Try finding an apartment or house in NY or CA and then tell me where you think there's a high demand to live. BTW, Florida's population gains are mainly in the 65+ cohort, calling them "new residents" is a bit of a stretch.
Now (Massachusetts)
@Marian Your fact could be used to support the opposite contention: People are leaving California and entering Florida because one is expensive and the other is cheap OR one is valuable and in greater demand proportional to its availability, while the barriers to entry for the other one are lower. Neither analysis proves anything about "how well" a state is doing. For that, you need to look at actual indicators of residents' well being. When you look at those? The answer would be: Neither. If you have a choice, pick a third state.
Renee M (CA)
@Marian Yet many people move to California every year. And many boomers who moved to Florida because they bought into the hype are realizing the reality of a poorly run state, and areleaving as soon as they can.
Tom (Canada)
The problem is that DeSantis is in a competitive state, and is battle hardened. If he wins by 10% in Florida is staggering and a warning to the Democrats. Newsome is in a single-party state and is soft.
Leftcoastlefty (Pasadena, Ca)
@Tom California just overtook Germany as the 4th largest economy in the world. A state of 40 million people did that. Who’s “soft”?
Renee M (CA)
@Tom Did you watch the Florida gubernatorial debate? If that proves Memorized Soundbites DeSantis is battle-hardened, I’d hate to see what a mentally and physically weak DeSantis looks like.
Prof Ron (Oregon USA)
Newsom vs. DeSantis is indeed a contest between cultures, but this contest is just the tip of an iceberg. Much more fundamentally, this contest is just one expression of an existential struggle for the soul of America -- an historic struggle between a political party that is admittedly imperfect but nonetheless well-intended in its desire to help make people's lives better versus a political party that uses lies, hatred, and fear as tools for acquiring and keeping power that serves only money interests in America.
George Tyrebyter (Flyover Country)
@Prof Ron Yes, I absolutely agree that the Republicans want to make people's lives better.
@George Tyrebyter Help me out here. Republicans have been actively pretending Covid doesn't exist--to the point that the Covid death rates are higher in Republican districts around the country--yet they want to make people's lives better? Republicans refuse to expand health care coverage in states they lead, resulting in lower rates of insured people, yet they want to make people's lives better?
Charles (Cincinnati)
@George Tyrebyter How so, really? By allowing billionaires to pay even less tax? By making sure the environment continues to collapse? By embracing authoritarians across the globe and allowing religion to enter politics? By ensuring that guns continue to proliferate? These are the mainstream political aims of the Republican Party.
Jonathan (Seattle)
Nice to see a balanced perspective sharing samples of viewpoints from respective "sides". The severe binary concept of which is a major part of the problem. It would serve all of us to better understand and try to empathize with those with whom we may disagree a lot more. Unfortunately our political class across the spectrum is driven by severe narcissism that only seeks to do the opposite. Democrat and Republican, to be clear. And our media today reflects much of the same in a bid for business survival. It's completely unnatural for human nature to only be on one side or another of the same 10 issues, so maybe we can accept that most people are much more nuanced in their views and share a lot in common?
Foot (NYC)
One difference between the liberal and the conservative side is that the conservatives for decades have been amassing an enormous cache of arms, and they have not been very circumspect about stating what they think that cache of arms is for (Hey, libs, try to MAKE us obey laws we don't agree with!) Is there an equivalent to this implied threat on the liberal side? I don't think so.
Terri Rolland (NM)
Conservatives (actually radical right) also have had Fox News, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh barking lies and conspiracies for years now. Nothing like that on the left (actually moderate liberal) side.
Ollie (San Francisco)
@Foot Try New York City or Chicago.lots or arms there and powerless law enforcement.
Now (Massachusetts)
@Foot Not yet. But I know some young lefties who have taken shooting lessons and are interested in obtaining guns. For precisely this reason--they fear the arsenals on the right and think it is suicidal for the left to remain unarmed.
LoungeLizard (Vermont)
In Thomas Hobson's day when nearly everyone (I assume) was horse savvy, his "choice" was a sound and reasonable business practice. Now "take it or leave it" has become more complicated and aggressive.
Bartleby S (Brooklyn)
Once again the ridiculous assumption that a historically right leaning institution, the FBI, has magically turned leftist. Ever since Trump reared his terrible head everything that happens in this country is somehow a "liberal power flex" geared to be a partisan attack on the right. Everyone is suspect, the FBI, Liz Cheney, etc.. Even when conservatives have the Supreme Court brashly and unapologetically leaning far into the right lane, they are still persecuted. The party of "law and order" is a farce.
FerCry'nTears (EVERYWHERE)
Again with Ross and abortion. The root of this obsession is his religious beliefs. He is welcome to them! And we are welcome to believe differently. The Freedom to do just that is being chipped away. I'm more interested to know his opinion about the loss of that. I already know where he stands on this issue and his desire to paint the Democrats as the radicals
Blue Danube (Florida)
The difference is that liberals give you full spectrum personal freedom and you pick and chose what is best FOR YOU. Conservatives take away person freedoms while clamoring it’s in your best interest because you really don’t know anything. Liberals will say unrestricted abortion is healthcare, conservatives will say abortion is a sin ( unless it’s their mistress) but it less sinfull if goverment turns a woman into incubators. It’s actually opposite case when it comes to corporations. Conservatives want open markets to be unrestricted with goverment rules and regulations ( what do you mean you want clean water, labor rights and fair wage? ) and they keep fingers crossed that money will trickle down and when it doesn’t, rich will keep their end of the bargain when it comes to Bible and charity rule ( ha!! Fat chance with that one). Moderation of the views is in order and the only way forward, but i’m afraid at this level of political polarization ( in addition to economic stressors) it’s not gonna be possible in foreseeable future.
Brian in FL (Florida)
@Blue Danube the first sentence of your response shows the errors in thinking here - lockdowns, the favored response of many liberal politicians during this pandemic, were indeed the exact opposite of full spectrum personal freedom and deciding what is best for you...
Renee M (CA)
@Blue Danube The “both sides are equal” nonsense has taken hold of the minds of the uninformed and unthinking. Name one single liberal who has called for unrestricted abortion. You can’t. But you could name millions of right-wingers who would ban choice altogether. Those two sides are not remotely the same.
Renee M (CA)
@Brian in FL Those lockdowns saved millions of lives, not that that is of any interest to Republicans.
Larry (New Jersey)
“a recognition that we can remain one country with, say, varying abortion laws.” Unbelievable you say this when states that outlaw abortion pass laws that allow their citizens to sue citizens in states that allow abortion for giving or aiding abortions. Conservatives only want states rights when all the states agree. Otherwise, have a national law to prevent abortions. Hypocrites.
el (Corvallis, OR)
Americans need to be acutely aware of the current state of our political system. It is extremely unhealthy, as evidenced at least by the January 6 insurrection, not to mention the mountains of corruption amassed in the previous administration. In order to return to ever return to the two party duel over who to represent rational policy making, it is essential to vote Democrat regardless of party affiliation. The truly corrupt forces acting against the foundations of the country must be flushed out, so that rational republicans can emerge. The radical GOP is currently running the show on the republican side. Steve Bannon will tell you that as he makes his bid for another get out of jail free card for his criminality - the first one couldn't cover it all. Vote Blue, even if you lean red.
Jonathan (Seattle)
@el As this article (finally) says the quite part out loud, the side that it seems you may characterize as "evil Republicans" can and does say virtually the same about Democrats. With just as much conviction.
el (Corvallis, OR)
@Jonathan True - the difference is in the hard facts and evidence that apparently no longer matter.
Aaron (Utah)
You have got to be kidding. If the Feds had gone after the militias when they determined them to be the prime terrorist threat to the country, we could have avoided 1/6.
Fully Recovered Liberal (New York)
@Aaron If we had better security than Walmart has for Black Friday, we could have avoided Jan 6th ...
Pt109 (LA)
Smalex smones, a liberal conspiracy theorist, says that janes revenge is actually a conservative group acting liberal in order to muddy the waters. I promise.
GBG (Italy)
A famous Italian politician one time said : “ the law is applied to enemies and it is interpreted for friends” (Giovanni Giolitti a “conservative” politician from late 1800) Hope my translation from Italian 🇮🇹 to English makes any sense, but what Wilhoit said it’s well known in my country and it is still used by everyone in the political spectrum.
gringa (NYC)
I am puzzled by the conservatives who write about sexuality being pushed on kindergarteners. Is this something Fox news is railing about because it is a convenient divisive point? So far, I have only seen transgenders wanting acceptance and respect.
Max (NYC)
@gringa The Florida law only prohibits the teaching of sexual preference and gender issues up to 3rd grade. If it's not being taught, then there's nothing to protest. Rather, all hell broke loose.
George Tyrebyter (Flyover Country)
@gringa The imposition of the gender insanity on kindergartners is widespread. The trans delusion should not be allowed in schools. It is a delusion, and we should not respect it.
gringa (NYC)
@George Tyrebyter God, in my mind, is a delusion. Yet "God" is in schools.
William Romp (Vermont)
Well, RD, you tried. Several times you pointed out that BOTH conservatives and liberals, when in power, tend to apply and enforce policies and laws more enthusiastically when doing so corresponds with their ideology. With this I cannot disagree. Seems obvious. Yet you managed to make the essay about conservatism's victimization by liberal forces. There must be a word for this, stronger than "irony." "Hey, this is human nature, it is how it has always been. But this time I'm right and you're wrong." Please, try again.
Ross writes: 'Or else the struggle could eventually vindicate one overarching vision and restore consensus through one side’s simple victory ' As if 50 years of Supreme Court precedent, reaffirmed fulsomely by various iterations of the Court and then overturned by a Supreme court packed for the purpose with one issue justices does not belie Ross's sophistry.
Passive observer (California)
How refreshing to read a Times OpEd grounded in reality. Newsome vs DeSantis is a perfect metaphorical match to depict the polarization that victimizes the country at this point. I’d love to see the two of them debate with two moderators selected by each side. Let the moderators ask the opposing politician a question, get a follow up, and take turns throughout. It would illustrate the divide and be far more compelling than the partisan hucksterism we see everywhere else.
Renee M (CA)
@Passive observer Watch the Crist-DeSantis debate. Pat partisan hucksterisms and memorized sound bites were all DeSantis had to offer. He refused to answer even the simple question of whether he would promise, if elected, to stay in Florida for four years, instead just repeating one of his sound bites about the border.
Terence Condren (Boston)
Wow, talk about revisionist history. Do you remember the gassing of the protestors in the park in DC so Trump could get his photo op in front of a church? How about low flying Army helicopters in violation of the law? What about protestors who were injured by police and then the police were never held to account? Whereas countless Christian Nationalists held services in direct violation of the law and were met with little/no consequences. Christians ARE NOT being persecuted in the US. Period. Stop. Not allowing them to impose a theocracy on us is not persecution.
Jonathan (Seattle)
@Terence Condren - how about "protesters" who published the addresses of Supreme Court justices and lead marches to their homes in violation of federal law that were not prosecuted? How about all the private property destruction and assaults that liberal prosecutors ignore in the name of "social justice"? How about Biden's student loan "forgiveness" (bribery) via executive diktat in complete violation of Congressional allocation of budget? Among many others? The entire point of this article is that at their extremes, both sides behave badly, and a functioning society accepts differing views, but applies civil constraints fairly regardless of political preference.
Max (NYC)
@Terence Condren The Lafayette Park incident was proven to be a hoax. Now that you know, please check your other assumptions.
Steve (Greenbrier)
positive note... i enjoy your comments section and want to thank the other writers for expanding my book horizons. We can agree to disagree and discuss.
Peter D (SF Bay Area)
No, no, NO. I am responding to the headline. I did not read the article. Newsome vs. DeSantis: NO, this is exactly the expression of the polarity of dysfunction our country is now facing, and it is the exact expression in the media of the quest for the very same controversy that sells news but debilitates our common government. NEITHER the gross ugliness inherent in the Californiafication of the country, nor devolving into a dystopian feral state like Florida is now doing would ever be a desirable state of affairs in the long run for our mutual survival.
David (Nashville)
@Peter D the best part of this comment is that Peter clearly states he did not read the column. I can capsulize it for you Pete: "As a Catholic, I take orders from the current Pope. The one who has helped to cover up countless instances of child molestation."
James (Silicon Valley)
Come on Ross! Mitch McConnell started it by refusing to consider Obama's Supreme Court nomination for 11 months then rushing Barett' s nomination through before the 2020 election. Do you expect the left to unilaterally disarm?
lise (california)
nope. this is really a cain and abel situation. Your problem is people, not the left or the right. It's people. I think Ross remembers a lot more peace in the past than ever really existed, as we all see the past through filters, but he is essentially right. We cannot resolve this situation and keep democracy unless we understand that all people are blind to their own hypocrisy, and noone will get everything they want. I often disagree with Ross, but he appears to always be genuinely trying to get the the truth of what is at the heart of our divides, and I appreciate that.
Jonathan (Seattle)
@James actually, you could go back to Harry Reid, whose dismantling of Senate norms started it and was warned it would lead to further partisan polarization.
No one's fool (Northeast U.S.)
7 in 10 Americans believe abortion is not a form of murder but instead a fundamental right so it seems like that question (as I'm sure many of the others) is pretty well resolved. And it's dishonest to call the forced birth lobby "pro-life." The opinion overruling Roe v. Wade made no accommodation for the life of the woman, despite how easily it could have done. Life never had anything to do with these issues whatsoever.
Max (NYC)
@No one's fool Most Americans approve of 1st trimester abortion. It drops off considerably after that. We could resolve it at about 15 weeks, as most of Europe does. But neither side will accept that.
No one's fool (Northeast U.S.)
@Max Obstetricians won't accept it either. They know that the American healthcare system is too broken for most women needing an abortion to confirm a pregnancy and access the resources necessary to schedule an appointment in time for that arbitrary cutoff, especially with the insane restrictions Republicans had instituted in many states even prior to Dobbs. Third trimester abortions are about 1% of the total, were typically wanted pregnancies that would have resulted in extreme risk to the mother and delivery of a fetus incompatible with life. And yet all the non-physicians out there decided to make this an issue also. Ireland amended their constitution to allow abortion after killing Savita Halappanavar by denying her an abortion at 17 weeks. It's infuriating to keep hearing non-physicians giving their opinion on this topic, especially those who justify restricting it that aren't even female. It's about as perverse and worth listening to as Kim Jung Un reading the Bill of Rights.
Max (NYC)
@No one's fool "They know that the American healthcare system is too broken for most women needing an abortion to confirm a pregnancy and access the resources necessary to schedule an appointment in time for that arbitrary cutoff," You are the one who bought up the subject of public approval. And all cutoffs are arbitrary. If a woman can't manage the process in 15 weeks, you change the process. You don't just bar any restrictions.
Benjamin Greco (Belleville, NJ)
Mr. Douthat thinks our only choices are another Great Awakening or Civil War because classical liberal principles aren't strong enough to hold us together. His Manichean thinking is typical of out-of-touch media punditry. Classical liberal principles are embraced by most of this country, the only people who want to violate them are the ideological radicals who are controlling the two major political parties who are afraid of alienating their prospective bases and the media which is reaping profits from polarization. Our democracy is being strangled by small minorities on the right and the left who hold the balance of power in an evenly divided electorate. We must break the stranglehold the have on us. There is a way forward, it's called the Foward party. If they can create a movement dedicated to respect for your fellow citizen, for opposing views and for debate and compromise, people will flock to it, and we may have a chance to get out of the mess we have made for ourselves without a religious revival or civil conflict. It is a slim hope, I know, and it will entail rejecting divisive media institutions like this one whose business model has warped into surviving by dividing.
FerCry'nTears (EVERYWHERE)
@Benjamin Greco The way forward is to eliminate parties and to go with coalitions instead. The parties are what is dividing us with a major assist from Putin
Valerie Elverton Dixon (East St Louis, Illinois)
Imagine that six out of nine judges placed on the highest court in the land by presidents who did not receive the majority of votes decided to ignore the 13th amendment and allow state legislatures to decide whether or not to re-institute slavery. Imagine that after such a ruling that some newspaper writer said this is just a question of federalism at work and the Department of Justice is obligated on protect the people who want to put people back into slavery. This is what has happened in the United States. The 13th amendment prohibits involuntary servitude. Involuntary means against one's will. Servitude means being forced by an entity with superior power to to do something. Forced pregnancy, forced labor, and forced birth constitute involuntary servitude prohibited by the 13h amendment. There is no compromise here. Either the 13h amendment is the law of the entire nation or it is not. If not, then it ought to be repealed through the process of repealing amendments. If you think abortion is murder, do not have an abortion. Better still, support policies that make it easier to rear children in this country. Women, non-binary people, and the men who love us are not going to allow six people to take away our constitutional and human right to liberty. See: "No Compromise" at: Click on essays.
Jonathan (Seattle)
@Valerie Elverton Dixon Imagine if you like, but that's not what happened. Entirely false equivalency. A majority of duly-appointed justices dismantled a law that was criticized even by liberal hero RBG as faulty, had done nothing but foment division for decades, and was not an issue of consensus among the American people in any way. Those justices did return the issue rightfully to the people of each state to determine based on their more nuanced values - a sizable majority of which does support abortion, but to various degrees rather than at either extreme. Some states will end up protecting abortion even more than Roe did. That's what the outcome will reflect, and in the end, will probably prove more satisfactory in general.
Fully Recovered Liberal (New York)
@Valerie Elverton Dixon Every President elected received 270 or more EC votes. That is a majority. Noone wants to put people back into slavery. Births are not being forced nor is labor. Your hyperbole is showing !
Many people feel, correctly in my view, that while anti abortion advocates are certainly entitled to their view, they have no business imposing that view on any one else but themselves. No one is forced to have an abortion in America, but plenty are now being prevented from exercising what was, until recently, an avowed Constitutional right. Ross's arched eyebrow regarding his perception that the Biden administration is not being proactive with regard to alleged infractions committed by pro choice advocates ignores that obvious and important difference between what the two groups seek to do.
Justin (Mountain West)
@LKF So in short, if someone agrees with you they are deserving of legal protections. If they disagree with you, they aren’t and they deserve what they get.
Anonymous (Ohio)
@Justin Way to completely ignore what they said
Spencer (St. Louis)
@Justin No, that is the republican way.
Loyalty Pledges (USA)
I laughed out loud to see “loyalty pledges” for DEI hiring practices in universities in this article. That is the honest truth. And it’s not a good thing.
James (Chicago)
If democrats want any hope of winning they ought to pick JB Pritzker over Newsom. Newsom is almost cartoonishly a "politician" and has had some major scandals. Comes across as extremely out of touch too, like he's made in a factory. Pritzker has his own fortune to bankroll his campaigns, has a Midwest appeal, and a solid track record. for the record I don't like the idea of the really rich controlling politics even if they have policies i agree with. but if Democrats are gonna go for it, which they are, they might as well pick the one with a better chance at winning.
@James Pritzker? The Pritzker who sent his wife and family to Wisconsin and Florida during the lockdowns that he and Chicago mayor put on the people and schools here? The Pritzker who pushed the Illinois Safe-T Act? Read that in its entirety, it is opposed by the huge majority of DAs in Illinois, except for the DA in Chicago who already is committed to no prosecution of most gun offenses and no incarceration for most felonies. Chicago has gun control laws but the DA refuses to enforce them.
George Tyrebyter (Flyover Country)
@James Pritzker, whose brother John is pretending to be a woman "Jennifer" and pushing gender insanity on children in schools? No, this is an evil craziness.
MM (New York)
Policies of the radical right are about suppression. They are weakening to the economy, and thus weakening to the global power we maintain. Russia is a perfect example of a country that is relatively weak. The same in true for China particularly once more foreign companies leave their country to manufacture elsewhere. The rise of China has been in foreign investment. Once that wanes, then what? It will begin to fall because it’s policies are suppressive. If people are not empowered to live freely, their economies suffer. That’s where we’re headed if republicans rule.
Fabio418 (Rome, Italy)
My opinion on Newsom's measures (at least from how Douthat presents them I'd need more detail for a full judgement) is: total approval for the fight to COVID misinformation, horror for the travel ban, while for the two on abortion I'm happy to live in a country (Italy) where such problems don't exist because abortions may be performed only in public hospitals and paid by the National Health Service
Wheels of Confusion (USA)
Political parties are largely a reflection of the constituents they serve. What America really needs are constituents with a backbone. The sad reality is that people are only for freedom of their speech, their religion, their expression, etc. Conservatives aren't for freedom of religion in schools --- they're for freedom of Christianity in schools. They wouldn't stand for a Muslim prayer before a high school football game. Liberals aren't for freedom of speech --- they're for freedom of speech they view as "tolerant" and "inclusive". What they view as intolerance is suppressed with fury. You can be selfish and tribal or you can have a liberal democracy where the marketplace of ideas hashes it all out. It's literally your choice. You must hold your nose and do the right thing when given a voice. I may hate Neo-Nazis, but I'd fight for their right to stage a demonstration. I'd then show up for the counter demonstration.
ASPruyn (California - Somewhere left of Center)
While looking at the statistics of attacks on pro-life organizations, also look at the amount of harassment that was done by the Pro-Life people outside of clinics that provided women’s health care. I’ll bet that the amount of that happening was a lot more than the what has happened and is happening against the pro-life side. And for those actions against pro-lifers coming to the fore, please tell us how those, Justices who said under oath that Roe v. Wade was settled law during their confirmation hearings had such a big change of heart, as they have been chipping away from women’s freedom ever since getting a seat on the Supreme Court. “Settled law”, yeah, right….
Spencer (St. Louis)
@ASPruyn They also murdered physicians who performed abortions and bombed abortion clinics. Funny how Douthat left this out.
Charles Michener (Gates Mills, OH)
I guess the point of this column is that extremists at both ends of the ideological spectrum can be . . . extreme. No quarrel there. However, in Douthat's usual zeal to find equivalence, he ignores a key difference: conservatives favor an old power structure that entrenches those who are already at the top; progressives favor a level field of opportunity that includes those who aren't. The former think "fairness" is irrelevant; the latter think it's the whole point. Douthat might also have noted that pro-choice activism, unlike pro-life activism, doesn't include killing doctors.
RJ (Mount Vernon Ohio)
The moronic overreach of Democrats - and sadly some Republicans like Mike DeWine - have made me a single-issue voter. I will never willingly cast a vote for any candidate of either party who supports or supported the 1-size-fits-all policies enacted during the superflu. For now, that rules out pretty much everyone in the Democrat party. As scary as Libs find Trump and DeSantis, I'm equally terrified of would-be tyrants like Newsome and Whitmer.
L S Friedman (Philadelphia, PA)
Douthat's total disconnect from the Supreme Court's politicalization of Roe v Wade is laughable but not surprising. After all, it is not his reproductive system that has become the property of the State.
Sgt Schulz (Oz)
If you want double standards, there is the way the Catholic church enabled and protected paedophile priests and shattered and scorned children. If the beams in Mr Douthat's eye could be logged the Amazon forest could be saved.
Aaron (Orange County, CA)
Here's how I feel... If it's Newsom vs. DeSantis, I'm not voting. If it's Biden vs. Trump, I'll vote for Biden only if he ditches Kamala Harris, otherwise I'm not voting. The fact is.. I live in CA, a very blue state and my vote in the Presidential election doesn't matter anyway.
Ali (SF)
Yeah, it doesn’t matter…. Until it does.
Boulevard (NYC)
Douthat speaks wisdom here (I say this as a liberal who also identifies as a Christian), but I find naïve this idea that there was once this era in American civilization when we were “all” able to agree upon fundamental ideals, a presumably three-dimensional morality sustained by common religious vision. When? When the nation tore itself up in Civil War? When blacks were slaves and women couldn't vote? When Baptist preachers in the south we're calling Martin Luther King a hoodlum and lawless rioter? Golden era thinking.
John Roosevelt (London)
I'm not a fan of either of these guys DeSantes because a of his pugnaciousness and naked exploitation of cultural divisions. I think DeSantes is an ambitious bully. Newsom because he slept with the wife of one of his best friends and dined at a Michelin starred restaurant in violation of his own Covid rules. I think Newsom is a phoney. We can do better
Antor (Washington)
@John Roosevelt The perfect presidential candidate doesn't exist. Nowhere, ever. So if there is the choice between a guy who cheated and ate in a restaurant during covid, or a demagogue who fans the flames of hate and division, then the choice is pretty easy.
Fully Recovered Liberal (New York)
@John Roosevelt Newsom isn't a phony, he's a Democrat. The party of do what I say but not what I do !
Christian without a church atm (Southern California)
I am reading this as Newsom is restricting some group's ability to restrict other's freedom. This is like Southern states feeling oppressed that they cannot hold slaves. No. Both sides aren't behaving the same. In Florida they're literally trying to restrict the books you can read and the things you can talk about at school! I get the old teachers v. parents debate, but when parents want to keep their kids in the dark, it is often teachers who are SAVING THOSE KIDS and serving society by actually talking to them, listening, respecting their ideas and feelings. I'm someone who actually went to school in both Florida and California. Let me tell you in CA even on liberal campuses I was exposed to plenty of conservative ideas as well as white-supremacist posters, various right wing religious demonstrations (which were far more in your face, loud, and explicitly insulting than anything the SJWs did), and oh yeah, lest I forget, first thing in the morning, giant posters of dead babies while I'm walking to school. The right wingers use every opportunity to claim they're persecuted, but the only thing they're really being restricted from is persecuting other people!!! Live and let live, Holy God, help us!!
Glenn Ribotsky (Queens)
Yes, yes, there is an overwoke leftist faction that suppresses free expression and has offshoots that may even be violent. And these should be vigorously opposed. But it is dwarfed by the reality denying, democracy disdaining, my-religion-or-we’ll-kill you right that is far greater in numbers, power, and influence, which has infiltrated far more centers of power and influence than the leftists have. How much actual power do college professors have compared to the military, or corporate officers? The false equivalence here is jarring, Ross, and the tendency of media people to continue promulgating it has a lot to do with the mess we’re in. We’ve got a lot more to fear from the neo-Nazis than the “woke socialists”—there simply are tons more of the former, and they’re much more weaponized.
Max (NYC)
@Glenn Ribotsky How much power do college professors have? Let's see. They indoctrinate our future leaders and promote social theories (like CRT) that slowly permeate the entire culture. And corporate officers fall in line As for the military? Our Joint Chiefs of Staff head (Gen Milley) is fully woke and they teach CRT at WestPoint.
Ampleforth (Airstrip One)
I will take keeping sexual material and books, including books about non-conventional gender presentation, out of kindergarten through fourth grade hands, and you can keep giving full healthcare for free to illegal immigrants. In that matchup, DeSantis wins in a landslide.
North (NorthWest)
I like DeSantis and dislike Newsom. DeSantis speaks for me when he says don't sexualize young children, or when he says no to those who suggest young children have sexual urges born of an identity that doesn't yet exist in their still developing and growing bodies. Newsom is a self-absorbed, lying metro sexual whose only ambition has been to let the public eat cake, so to speak, as he dined with friends while imposing Covid lockdowns on the peasants.
Antor (Washington)
@North The thing is, nobody is "sexualizing" children. DeSantis is using the tactics of amplifying certain things he knows people will get upset about. Textbook Demagogue - stoking divisions and pretending to be the one person to fight for the "good" people.
Fully Recovered Liberal (New York)
@Antor If you don't think people are sexualizing children you have your head buried in the sand.
SB (Sacramento)
Culture war mongering has seriously damaged American advancements. The left fights in the name of social justice indefinitely, but the right fights for fabricated grievances. The left has its power centers in most of academia and influential corporations, while the warring right has its power centers in the supreme court, state houses, and the big bad Fox News. Nobody is interested in solving the differences- it is all about the election cycles. Abortion is an ethical problem and needs nuanced thinking, not sticking a finger in the eyes of your ideological opponent.
Claudia (PA)
My concern is that we no longer have any calm, intelligent, articulate, reasonably polite and emotionally mature adults running for office. Politics has morphed into a crude WWE brawl where profanity, childish bullying one-liners, and incredibly dangerous personal attacks rule the day and are even encouraged by the slavering attention of the media. Why would a "normal" person want to run for office?? I don’t have any answers - I am approaching an unfortunate state of despair and disconnect…
GWE (Ny)
Calling a spade a spade, let me say this. Democrats are not saints. We are snobby, sometimes elitist, and often intolerant. But but but…… not sure what other reasonable position there is to take in the light of such blatant corruption, lies and insurrection. Tell me exactly how I am supposed to be friends with someone who would take away my son’s right to get married or treat me as a second class citizen, literally, because I was naturalized vs born here? Liberals, and yes me included, sometimes feel very much under attack. Personally yes, but also our democratic norms, as well as the kind of society and government we wish to see. And don’t get me started on the climate. The thing I like about Gavin Newson is he is not behaving as thought both sides are equal…..because they are not. If I say I want to stab you in the neck and dance naked around your body and I say my religion affirms this, there are laws that say otherwise. That is a little bit about how I feel about what is happening in California. Women should have basic healthcare options. Transgender children should have access to healthcare as well. We need more science and fact based education around these topics; not more ignorant driven borne out of fear of change. Newson makes compelling and data driven arguments as to why liberal ideas make for better quality of life *for all*. Maybe we should listen to him instead of trying to shame him with a case of “what about is” that doesn’t hold water.
Debra M. (Syracuse)
Ross, I have not yet read the entirety of this piece. I went directly to the "CatholicVote'" website to read about the 75 attacks that no one is doing anything about. I suggest anyone reading your article do the same. Maybe somewhere between the time doctors who perform abortion were murdered and/or clinics bombed, the definition of "terror" has changed for some people: people like Ross Douthat for instance.
Mike (NY)
A ridiculous argument. I'm tired of those trying to tie both parties as equally corrupt or "extreme" in their ideologies. Ross fails to mention all the years of bomb threats, violent protests, violence against nurses and doctors and even muder committed by the anti-abortion forces that was allowed to continue for years. The conservative party ideology is based mostly on lies - lies about immigration ("murderers and rapist" when in reality they are just families looking for a better life), lies about a stolen election, lies about crime in America while they refuse any common sense gun laws, lies about voting rights, gerrymandering and stolen Supreme Court seats while they push their religious agenda. What happened to the separation of church and state? The conservatives attack on LGBTQ people is unconscionable. Covid 19 restrictions were put in place to protect lives based on science - mask wearing , limiting gatherings and widespread availability of vaccines. Ross makes it sound lke that was a "liberal" agenda. Government has the responsibilty to protect its citizens. Only the conservatives turned it into a political issue. Many Americans died needlessly because of it. Only conservatives are pushing the ridiculous "replacement theory" pitting Americans against Americans, giving oxygen to the idiotic nonsense of "Q". I see nothing wrong with committing to diversity, equility and inclusion or fighting "misinformation". I don't call that liberal, I call it common sense.
Maggie (Illinois)
A Democrat would occupy the White House permanently if governors from Democratically-controlled states like California and New York could demonstrate to the American public that they're capable of effectively governing their populous, diverse, wealthy states. It's not asking too much for blue govs to dramatically decrease homelessness, drug abuse, crime, and poverty, while improving K-12 education and workforce participation, is it? Results drive votes. Throwing money at the problem of homelessness has been an utter failure in CA. If Newsom cannot solve hat problem with billions of dollars, I doubt he can do much with the federal government's trillions.
AnObserver (VT)
Let me take a small slice of the pie Mr. D has served, requiring "Pregnancy Help Centers" to explain about abortion services, and contrast that to the States, pre Dobbs, that required medical personnel to delay the provision of services, deliver false information to patients, provide unneeded care and services (eg. forced ultrasounds), that women were forced to endure, and other various impediments to women getting the services they came for. And as for forcing or forbidding speech, Mr. DeSantis and the other governors are engaged in what at best could be called bowlderdising history, or maybe censoring might be a better word, to keep students from learning the non-whitewashed (sic) version I was taught. Mr. N's actions pale (sic) in comparison.
Ed in BVS (California)
Ross thinks that religion is privileged above all other rights, both enumerated and unenumerated (amendment 9). this is wrong in every particular.
Rune (Duluth, MN)
There's a maxim, often attributed to Voltaire - 'Cherish those who seek, flee from those who find.' Plenty of folks on the right and left fringes to flee at this fraught moment, not least the religiously certain Douthat, who I suspect can't wait to kiss the feet of some righteous (and right-wing) monarch.
Tony (Sao Paulo)
As a Brazilian, it is revealing to observe the coordinated narrative between US extremist far right groups and their tropical counterparts, especially less than a week away from our second round presidential elections down here. One recurrent element is the figure of the state as a supposed oppressor of religious freedom, ready to send the police barging into temples and homes, as well as to shut down churches, while imposing a mandatory hyper progressive agenda, including homosexual education for children in pre-school. The electoral propaganda machine behind this is also operated by clients of Mr. Steve Bannon, but that could be a mere coincidence.
News Runner (U.S.)
I'm am darn sick of the anti-women's-rights side using/highjacking "pro-life." I believe in women's rights, including their right to make health decisions without government interference, and I am also "pro-life." I say this as an old man.
Linking (Ideas)
Excellent. Universalism: If I accord a freedom or right to myself, I must accord it to everyone. French's Classical Liberalism: For some reason, I've been associating that vein with Brittney Spears' line, "Do you know that you're Toxic?" (Reer-reer) Evil: It just occurred to me that if you're going to have a universal good, you may also need an idea of a universal evil.
Eric (Seattle)
It speaks volumes about the state of affairs in America that I — definitely not a conservative!! — find myself in complete agreement with Ross Douthat here, even though I find virtually all his examples abhorrent, and even though it’s implausible that there is the FBI bias he claims. That’s exactly his point of course. Well done.
Allenna (Toronto)
I would like to point out that red and blue states governing themselves according to liberal or conservative principles is not a valid point. There are red pockets in blue states and vice versa. The law should be equally applied but I am also struck by the relative difference in degree between a commitment to support diversity and the 'don't say gay' bill in Florida or the total bans on abortion (including during miscarriages and when the foetus is non-viable) that may literally kill women.
Alan Guggenheim (Oregon)
Best diagnosis and prescription of the abortion dilemma I've ever read. My concern is that we as a people today lack the empathy Ross prescribes. Pro-lifers can't imagine circumstances where the "murder" of the unborn is justified. Pro-choicers can't imagine circumstances where a woman must bend to the will of the government when it comes to her body and how she lives her life. Since I believe DeSantis will beat Newsom, I pray the Floridian embraces Ross Douthat's argument here (and subscribes to Ross's newsletter!).
Mel Count (Minneapolis, MN)
Whataboutism strikes again. I hear it over and over and over again from conservatives. Mention some overreach of conservatives who are trying to impose their will on the rest of us and the response is invariably, "but what about......" concerning something offensive from liberals. Then it devolves into an argument about which thing is worse finally ending with an agreement to disagree, sometimes leading to the breakup of a friendship. What ever happened to people's ability to tolerate the beliefs of others without getting into conflict. Why must so many of us keep trying to codify our beliefs into laws? Whatever happened to "Live and let live"?
Robert (Sacramento, CA)
@Mel Count I agree and I would add that for me, these are not an apples vs. apples comparisons. These types arguments with made without properly filling in the details makes Ross’s arguments fall flat for me. I have a hard time hearing the sound points Ross may be making because of all of the language he adds that make it feel to me like it is a smoother version of the same old arguments that I just plain disagree with. Academic speak and sugar coating the arguments wont help me want to work on a path forward. I would like to see a column that says something like “We do not agree and that is ok (I dont hate you and I am not here to force you to believe differently) but are there ways we can move forward and come up with ways we can all still live in the same country?” Instead, I just end up in the same place I do with todays right leaning people no matter how it is presented.
Nick (Austin)
Yet more proof that conservatives need and actually desire to feel victimized. It gives them the psychological freedom to inflict pain on their perceived enemies.
David A. Lee (Ottawa KS 66067)
I sometimes disagree pretty heartily with Ross Douthat, but this statement goes to the core of a problem that has nagged me ever since I woke up in the mid-70s and realized that the attack on pro-life Americans (and un-born children) was something I just could not find consistent with all the values that drew me to the Civil Rights and Peace movements. Trump and Trumpism are of course no answer to this country's problems, and neither for that matter is Ron de Santis. But there is hatred and intolerance in the Democratic Party's mindless embrace of abortion and various kinds of sexual radicalism.
News Runner (U.S.)
@David A. Lee Supporting women's rights makes Democrats full of "hate and intolerance?" Supporting a person's right to their own sexuality makes Democrats full of "hate and intolerance?" Do tell.
Johanna❌🅾️ (Florida)
@David A. Lee Mindless embrace of abortion??? This is exactly how conservatives frame the argument to vilify anyone who believes in a woman’s right to choose. We are emphatically NOT pro abortion… we believe that it’s a woman’s decision, in consultation with her doctor or not, on whether to end her pregnancy. I’m pretty sure , David, that if you were a woman faced with a gut wrenching decision like this, you’d feel a whole lot differently.
David A. Lee (Ottawa KS 66067)
@David A. Lee Democrats don't just support women's rights. They say they support it with a lot of hatred for pro-life Americans. It wasn't I but Julian Epstein--of the party's most respected strategists--who said a few weeks ago that the Democrats must stop accusing pro-lifers of hatred for women because we oppose abortion. The very core of our argument is the self-evident fact other human life is involved in a woman's decision--and a medical practitioner's decision and society's legal decision--to terminate pre-natal human life. The contrary argument always seems to presume that nobody has a right or need to raise this issue--and this aborted legitimate argument is the "pro-choice" position. To me, this kind of thing is just irrational. A just society makes no other such decisions in this way.
Patch Faa (Lucerne)
No one, Ross, wants someone else's religion shoved down their throat. Abortion in the USA is not the same as abortion in Canada. Canada has no laws against abortion. It is considered a private matter between a woman and her physician. It is a matter of "health care". Here, it is the whim of 6 people on the SC who are brandishing their religious beliefs, all the way back to when witches were murdered over in Merry England. "Ensoulment" is a RELIGIOUS tenet.... and NOT part of every religion. There are 4,200 religions on this planet. Only one of those is Christianity. But of that ONE religion there are over 40,000 denominations. I'm not sure which denomination of Christianity the man who murdered Dr. Tiller in his own Christian church pew belonger to. I only know, as a humanist, secularist and atheist that I have finally gotten to the point where I don't buy ANYONE who says they are religious. That includes you, sir. This article could have been --- SHOULD have been --- about the members of the Atlanta Baptist church that stood and gave Herschel Walker a standing ovation after it was revealed that he had paid for his girlfriend's abortion. Well, maybe after the election you'll address that point of theology. Separate Churches from their tax-exemption. An audit is needed on every religious institution.
Paul (California)
Note to Ross D: Using the term "pro-life" in the NYT immediately loses you 98% of your potential readers. Stick with Anti-abortion", which is the correct term. California passed a bill paying to fly women from other states here and covering the costs of their abortions. This "well-meaning gesture" in the eyes of some, is an outrageous publicity stunt to counter the even-more outrageous abortion restrictions being passed by anti-abortion states. Partisan governors are in a shooting match and the citizens of their states are the collateral damage.
Susan (Florida)
Everyone who reads the NYT opinion section knows where Ross Douthat on this issue—if people are offended by the “pro-life” label they can simply avoid “Ross Douthat.”
Bruce B (New Mexico)
Ross's statement "Actually I’m not playing fair with the quotation" sums up the Republican approach to politics.
coale johnson (5000 horseshoe meadow road)
"the contrast between the slow-seeming federal response to the wave of violence and the vigor with which the government has been pursuing anti-abortion protesters lately." really? as opposed to when? the statement above is unsupported hogwash or what is now commonly referred to as gaslighting. the federal response to the acts of terror and harassment of abortion clinics and providers took a while to get rolling and so will the response to the same acts at pro-life organizations. the only time in my memory our federal government responded to terrorism with immediate detainments and arrests was after 911..... and most of those people were released because they were not guilty of anything but being muslim.
Marc McDermott (Williamstown Ma)
Human nature is what it is. Good points, Mr Douthat. Our system, however, is our creation. And it clearly does not reward moderates who would govern from the center and "marginalize" those whom Mr. Douthat highlights here. Too bad it seems impossible to change our system.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Marc McDermott: Nobody alive created this busted system. It is a sacred relic of the long dead, who were purportedly ever so much wiser than anyone living now with 200+ more years of knowledge to work with.
Susan (Florida)
It would be easier to change our system if we could go back to realizing that political parties are a natural feature of representative democracy and trusting the politicians of each party to decide who best represents their ideological identity rather than allowing everything to be decided by primaries where political “fans” dominate and choose the most extreme candidates. The overwhelming majority of Americans, I’m sure, despise both Newsom and DeSantis.
Fully Recovered Liberal (New York)
@Steve Bolger Not entirely true. The framers were wise enough to give us the ability to amend our constitution over the years which we have. They may be dead but their work lives long after !
MM (New York)
The most poignant point is that “The reality that a sprawling empire of 300 million cannot be governed the way one would a deep-blue or red state (would like)…” If we continue to want to impose our views on the other half, half the country will be in resentment, fear and anger. We absolutely cannot exist or function in this manner. The way forward seems impossible but the conversation of one vision (red or blue) for this country needs to change — it is delusional and destroying us.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@MM: This nation blew out its brains with the 1953 Congressional legislation that erased "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" with a law that decreed the US "under God".
Kate H (Dallas)
It is audacious, if not ludicrous, for Ross to play the "victim" in the state's efforts to force women to give birth. Pity to poor forced-birthers who are being held accountable for harassing women and medical providers. I also disagree that liberalism is "staring down the prospect of another electoral defeat." That's not true everywhere including wide swaths of California and the East Coast. Finally, good luck getting conservatives to listen to any other ideas or opinions. I will always remember DeSantis ripping off masks worn by Florida high school students. I don't see a "future peace" with his bullying.
Jennifer Hoult, J.D. (New York City)
As usual, Douthat omits relevant facts and misrepresents others to make his case. The anti-choice organizations in California use lies, false advertising, and misinformation in attempts to trick women who are seeking abortions. They falsely claim they provide abortions, when they don't provide any medical care at all. They are not staffed with licensed nurses or doctors, just pro-slavery advocates trying to deceive. The violence against women seeking abortions has exceeded violence against pro-slavery citizens like Douthat, for decades. Is there violence on both sides? Sure. But the rates of violence matter. The far right has always, and continues, to commit the overwhelming amount of terrorist violence in the U.S.
Anthony (Western Kansas)
Perhaps cable media can gain a conscious and care more about actual reporting than profit. That is unlikely, so the only thing that can keep us from a Civil War is for the federal government to support states' rights so that our different political tribes can hide in their respective areas of liberalism and conservatism.
farcenter (CT)
I found this to be very thoughtful and interesting. It's an important perspective. Thank you.
R B (Illinois)
Or maybe it takes the FBI more than 5 months to completely investigate a crime under their jurisdiction, which is why they just arrested somebody for something that happened over a year ago, but haven’t yet arrested anyone for things that have happened since May?
John (Cactose)
Can't we just acknowledge that political and social absolutism exists and is cultivated on BOTH the far Right (MAGA) and the far Left (Progressives)? It is these two seemingly opposite, and yet eerily similar groups, who believe that they are right and good and true, while those in opposition are wrong and bad and false. Ross's point is that whomever is in power (politically or socially) does (and will continue to) embrace Wilhoit's formulation. The example of abortion clinics being protected under the law, while protesters who loot and destroy are given a free pass really hits the mark. He could have just as easily used the example of illegal immigration - people crossing the border illegally are viewed through a humanitarian lens and their breaking of the law is overlooked, whereas the local governments who bus or fly them out to other cities are vilified as having broken the law. On the MAGA side the examples of this paradigm are many. MAGA Republicans rail against gun violence in cities like Chicago and Baltimore, but embrace the open carry of automatic weapons (and use of them in supposed "self defense" scenarios) as if the dangers of guns only matters in inner cities. Embrace the center. Shun the fringes. That's the only way back from this political and social abyss.
Syliva (Pacific Northwest)
@John I don't disagree with you. However, a lot of what's happening now is that people are crossing the border on foot and asking for asylum. This is not illegal. Do I think we need to change things about how we handle immigration at the border and asylum requests? Yes. But crossing the border on foot and turning yourself in to ask for asylum is not, in fact, illegal.
John (Cactose)
@Syliva Sorry, but it has been well documented and reported by the likes of NBC and CNN that many of those people are being told to "claim asylum" as a way to gain entry in the Country. Not to mention the fact that there millions upon millions of illegal immigrants living here who have not even bothered to do that. They've just crossed, evaded capture by border patrol, and melted into the ether. This is a losing issue for Democrats. Until we stop illegal crossings there will never be the political will to revise our LEGAL immigration policies to better deal with the problem at hand.
Avi (Chicago)
I agree. I would also point out that St. Louis has the highest murder rate in the country, however MAGA is silent. Why? Missouri is run by Republicans
reader (CA True North)
Again with the Liberal boogeyman Ross. It is far more complicated than joining a 'team" there are many subtle issues beyond crass rhetoric from would be national politicians that regular folks care about. To set up a Liberal v Conservative divide is to not understand politics at the local level (aka where people vote).
Herbert Adler (Pittsburgh PA)
It occurs to me that everything promoted in California expands the social contract, democracy and the like, or reacts against the contraction of it by conservatives. Whereas everything promoted in Florida reduces equality and equal rights in favor of the continued dominance of undemocratic, autocratic, Christian SWM. It’s a false equivalence.
John (Massachusetts)
Perhaps it is time to divide the nation into 2 countries? One Blue, where folks have universal health care, all pay a fair percentage of taxes with no loopholes to support a strong government, and term limits for the new Congress of the Blue States and free and fair voting for all. The other Red State run by a dictator with no abortion or exceptions for rape/incest, voting no longer allowed, leaders decided by the Red Congress Leaders, their President serves for life. Might avoid violence for 2024 to just admit the civil war never ended & racists need their own place to exist, as do us who believe in real freedoms like the ones who died in WW2 fighting the radical right of Germany. Simple yet effective solution.
News Runner (U.S.)
@John New England stands at the ready to be an independent nation. Then our national tax dollars will be spent here, instead of supporting the poverty-stricken states that refuse to tax their own residents.
Syliva (Pacific Northwest)
Maybe the reason "abortion clinics have gotten the law's protection" is that they have been legal. Abortion has been legal. So anyone blocking access etc is in opposition to the law. Seems obvious why the law has gone after some anti-abortion activists.
John (New)
This was phenomenal and though provoking. Thank you.
LP (Toronto)
It is too bad that serious arguments about the future of the country continually use abortion as a template. Doesn't everyone see that the abortion question will not be resolved any time soon? People are dug in on either side so why use it as the template for the country's future? It's an easy us vs them proposal, it generates a lot of emotion and it portends violence no chance of compromise. Americans must be drawn to this kind of win/loss at all cost scenario ie war. Other countries have the same conundrums around abortion but we have collectively decided not to let it fracture our countries. (so far).
News Runner (U.S.)
@LP Abortion rights are important to most Americans. It is not a template.
Avi (Chicago)
Lindsey Graham’s 15 week abortion ban is a reasonable compromise (not a fan of most of the man’s politics) however it will get nowhere in the Congress
Susan (Maine)
So you take a conservative quote about in-power conservatives protecting conservative groups while going after liberal groups……as we all saw with Barr, Trump and Trump’s pardons … attack liberals in power? Frankly, I fear more the self-righteous and self-ordained by their own idea of god supporters than I do liberals wanting equality, equal rights and bodily integrity rights, and self-determination by all. The problem with self-righteous zealots is that not only do they want their views upheld, they ignore the equally justified views of others. No abortion rights supporter is forcing any woman to have an abortion. Yet conservative forces want to enslave a woman into pregnancy while punishing her after the child is born with a lack of support for her, her child and her family…..falling back on “it’s her own fault (even in rape, incest, or health problems) for having sex. Period. After all the conservative men protesting mask wearing as an assault on their bodily integrity….it’s really astounding to see them happy to force women into unwanted, unsustainable pregnancies even if it kills them.
Larry (Newton MA)
These conservative men care more about embryos than their fellow humans who their masking they object to is meant to protect
Ed Marth (Saint Charles IL)
The Republican appeal seems based on how hard they can be on immigrants, working people (of color), and just anti-anything which helps people pay their bills (unless it is payments on bigger yachts.) Democrats who get noticed seem too often those who are on the opposite fringe (the "Squad'.) When someone like Biden sews up the nomination by appealing to traditional values he gets attacked by Republicans as too soft on crime while they insist that more guns for the shootings is the solution. Going back a way in time when we had obligations of "news" outlets to provide unbiased reports (ah, for another Walter Cronkite), rather than bullhorns for the political right or left, we might actually get assessments of what is best rather than just right or wrong. Science gets, as Churchill described the Nazi version of it, perverted rather than confirmatory. Mr. Douthat is interesting but searching for readers like the right or left search for followers without calling for better answers.
Kevin (Colorado)
I am beginning to think comedian Lewis Black's proposal a decade or so back has merit; We should elect and dig up a dead President and ensconce him in the oval office, Lewis suggests Ronald Reagan. It would signal to our many enemies that clearly we had lost our collective minds and that anyone who just installed a dead man as their leader is no one to mess with.
DJ (Tulsa)
As a good Republican, Mr. Douthat rekindles the old social issues on which his party has relied to win every election since the dawn of this republic. Religion and Abortion. Welcome to the center stage of the issues that America face in this century. Same as the old century or the century before. Cultural war is the cris de guerre every election. Bit let’s talk about policies that a actually improve people’s lives and leave culture wars aside. Three important ones among others. 1) Health coverage from “conception” (that’s a word that republicans can relate to) to “deconception” to use the same derivation. Is that a cultural issue? Unless your religion states that watching people die of untreated diseases guarantees your entry to Heaven, I say No. it’s good social policy. It saves lives. 2) Effective Gun control. I know what the constitution says., but it is good policy. It is not cultural. I know of many Dems who own guns. It is social and saves lives. 3) Higher taxes for the rich to reduce the appalling gap in wealth in the country. Yes, I know, it’s a communist plot. But it still is good social policy. Nothing cultural there. Ready to run on these issues Mr. Douthat and leave us be with your abortion and religion crusades for once? What? I can’t hear you…..
Joe Mort (Western New York State)
Mckinsey Global Institute has a forecast (vision) out digested in Bloomberg that declares "Peak Child" and much more based not on theology, philosophy, theory, or least of all - politics. Could help anyone to "...imagine your way into the other faction's perspective ...". My personal coincident vision expects disease diminishing to a rare occurrence and minor factor and loved children socialized by free families in a nurturing social economy with each individual adult women deciding and determining the fate of her genes and any fertilized embryo - understood not to be yet capable of its first human conscious willful agency nor yet vested in law and common understanding with "inalienable Human Rights" such as those invisioned by humanists from Thomas Jefferson to Hillary Clinton and inclusive of unnamable "billions and billions", to quote Carl Sagan.
laurence (bklyn)
Douthat speculates about "...a partisan leader who can pivot to statesmanship when the opportunity arises." In doing so he brings up an interesting larger point about our entire culture. Public figures, including characters in our movies, are all "one trick ponys"; you can predict what they're going to say before they say it. Gone are the days of the villian with a charming sense of humor or the god-like hero who keeps dropping the crockery. And gone, too, are the days when politicians could surprise everyone by reaching across the aisle (that river of lava) to do the right thing.
Persimmon (South West)
Thanks, Ross!
Calworkman (Smartypants)
Cheer up, Russ. At least the FBI admits the firebombing took place. I'm surprised they didn't try to pass it off as "Russian disinformation."
Blackmamba (IL)
Nonsense. Republicans represent the dreams, fears, hates, hopes and nightmares of the white European American voting majority that voted 57% McCain in 2008, 59% Romney in 2012, 58% Trump in 2016 and 57% Trump in 2020. Whomever Republican for President 57+% in 2024. Americans white Anglo-Saxon Protestant Founding Fathers who owned property including their enslaved Black African men women and children working on lands and using natural resources stolen from multiple brown Indigenous men women and children nations originally intended and meant by their carefully constructed Constitutional text that only they and men like themselves were divinely naturally created equal persons with certain unalienable rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And the Founding Fathers erected the Senate, Electoral College, Cabinet, White House Staff, Supreme Court of the United States and states'rights sovereignty to stand as enduring barrier bulwarks against any individual Americans delusions of democracy. The Democratic People's Republic of California sent the likes of Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger,Kevin McCarthy, Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris to national fame. While Florida catapulted the likes of George W. Bush, Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, Matt Gaetz and Jeb Bush to national fame. And Trayvon Martin's Florida killing recalled the Christmas night home bombing of Harry and Harriette Moore along with the Florida Rosewood Massacre and the Seminole Wars.
Your relativism equating so called social conservatism and the fundamentalism of the religious right to the effort of liberals and progressives to protect the reproductive rights of women and civil liberties of gays, transgender people, and embattled minorities is damning and irresponsible. It is cherry picking evidence at best and is intellectually and morally obtuse. It is the right wing that is the threat to our democracy and that supports or abets the insurrection, the myths of the stolen election, voter suppression, gerrymandering, and seeks to impose their cultural and religious vision on an increasingly diverse nation. If the Republicans like DeSantis assume power, I envision a world that will be crueler and nastier. The Republican House will attempt to blackmail the Biden Administration by threatening government shutdowns and defaulting on our national debt ceiling in order to gut our social programs like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid and to initiate ridiculous investigations on the Bidens and Merrick Garland. Meanwhile our social and economic problems will be ignored and worsen and our cultural divide will widen. It is a dystopia that will jeopardize the survival of our nation and the prosperity of our economy. Is that what our voters want?
Kb (Ca)
Interesting that Ross never mentions when pro-life groups or individuals bombed abortion clinics and killed doctors providing abortions. I guess that is nothing compared to shoving each other.
Calworkman (Smartypants)
@Kb He doesn't mention them because they were prosecuted and did prison time. Can you see how that places them out of reach of the point he's making?
Bill Brasky (USA)
Often overlooked is the role of the press acting as if alll this were a sporting event. Who's winning, who's losing, what's the score. These are serious matters deserving serious analysis and discussion.
Timothy Jackson (Atlanta)
You are entirely correct. As long as the media (all of it, including Fox) reduces politics to the Red vs Blue team horse race, it’s not surprising that citizens will vote for “their team” and the quality of the candidates and associated policies matters little. Reminds me of rabid sports fans, no matter how egregious the foul or the conduct of the team, it’s absolutely OK as long as their “team” wins.
Ellen (Gainesville, Georgia)
People who block the entrance to a clinic are right there, at the "crime scene" whereas arsonists probably do not hang around until the firetruck and police arrive. Could that be the reason why in one case arrest and prosecution are swift and in another it is not because the perp fled the scene and has to be found yet?
Mac (New York)
As I remember the marches in the Summer of 2020: The weather was warmer and it was known that the spread of the virus would decrease in warmer weather. As viruses are likely to do. The were outdoors and the vast majority of the people with whom I marched practiced social distancing or were masked. As a recall the concern over religious services largely concerned indoor services or extremely crowded out door ones. There seems to be some differences here. But I don't know ... Love one another. By any means necessary.
Kate (Hudson Valley, NY)
Once again, Douthat is equating progressive and conservative values. Here's the difference: conservative "values" seek to harm others who do not subscribe. Trans people do not get the medical care that affirms their identities and prevents deaths of despair. Women who do not want children have lives ruined by forced pregnancy. Those face dire medical prognoses for themselves or their fetuses are left to reach the brink of death before doctors can intervene. People of color are allowed to face rampant discrimination and violence because while people are uncomfortable. The list goes on. Progressive values don't kill people.
Joe You (NYC)
Easy win for Desantis on outcomes, policy, intelligence, competence, leadership skills. Even nutty California voters tried to recall Newsome. We don't want him.
Tom Daley (SF)
@Joe You DeSantis would have done worse than Larry Elder against Newsom.
R. Williams (Athens, GA)
@Joe You write, "Even nutty California voters tried to recall Newsome. We don't want him." The recall was not successful by a very healthy margin in Newsome's favor. The "nutty" lost and you appear to associate yourself with the nutty by saying, "we" don't want Newsome. Use of the omnipotent "we" often, if not always, exhibits the user in the harsh lights of reality.
TH (Chicago)
Where have all the moderates gone? Both extremes are a problem. And, anyone who stands in front of an abortion clinic to intimidate, control, and guilt women is literally the biggest low life who needs to find purpose and maybe some friends.
Tony (Sao Paulo)
@TH enter religion and the boogeyman as a lever: "religious conservatives get to fear F.B.I. agents on their doorsteps". Told from the pulpit, a lie needs much less than one thousand repetitions to be accepted as Truth.
Daoud (Spain)
@TH Except that the cowards (biggest low lifes, in your terminology) who block access are performing FOR their friends. You never see them except in groups - rather like Goths, but with less justification and no humanity.
Frank Roseavelt (New Jersey)
Set the masses against each other in unending culture wars, while the Republicans setup the super-rich to continue hoarding more power and wealth at the expense of those very same masses. Pathetic that the masses have not caught on by now.
NC (Fort Walton Beach,FL.)
Well luckily the man who shoved a woman in order to teach his 12 year son about putting women in their place and his son will never need an abortion will they? Rosaries off my ovaries. Don't I have an freedom from religion? Or no?
Had enough (NY)
I would rather vote for DeSantis over Newsome. News one is a hypocrite who was at the French Laundry fundraising and eating hyper expensive food whilst the rest of Ca was in lock down and he religiously touted masking whilst not masking. That says it all about Newsome. Ca has highest taxes, highest homelessness, highest gas prices, highest construction costs and highest net people moving out. Says it all.
Bohemian Sarah (Footloose in Eastern Europe)
I stopped at 'pro-life' and 'pro-choice' as the chosen terminology. This is exactly the sort of false equivalence that works with an undereducated electorate. It seems so, um, fair to call them both pro-something, and to equate these movements as if one wanted chocolate and the other vanilla. Truth is, this is a false equivalence of the gravest possible kind, and typical of how our populace is being manipulated. Anti-abortionists, who represent a minority of public opinion, are forcing a religious ideology that takes away the most basic civil rights of half the population. The anti-choice crusaders who have three (3!) members on our Supreme Court are not pro-life. They are pro-forced Christianity of the most extreme kind that doesn't represent the actual religious views of all but a tiny minority in our overwhelmingly secular society. Neither the majority of Catholics nor of self-identified American Christians agrees that access to family planning and to pregnancy termination services should be blanket denied to everyone in all cases -- but that is what this group believes. They are not competing contestants on American Idol. One is the majority of Americans and the other is the Taliban.
Bill Camarda (Ramsey, NJ)
One side is stocking AR-15s.
AKJersey (New Jersey)
This Supreme Court ruling on abortion was not political, it was a religious edict, stemming from the religious doctrine that the soul exists from the moment of conception. Welcome to Gilead! (Yes, this is a reference to "The Handmaid's Tale".)
Mel Count (Minneapolis, MN)
@AKJersey and therefore by logical extension, any form of birth control that acts after conception such as an IUD or a morning after pill is murder, regardless of whether the conception occured between two consenting adults or because of rape and/or incest. This is a religious belief. It is not scientifically provable. The very existence of a soul is a religious notion. So the real question is, should US law favor one religion over another? Should we allow our States to have laws that favor one religion over another?
Daoud (Spain)
@Mel Count Morning after pill does not prevent conception, it prevents implantation. Same with an IUD. Neither is, technically, contraception.
Julien Benda (North Atlantic)
Much as I disagree with the Court’s decision, the question before it was not about the soul; a word, by the way, that has a philosophical as well as a religious meaning. The question was about who or what is entitled to be regarded as a person and thus capable of being protected under the law. The fact that the court gravely erred does not mean that the question can be easily dismissed.
Daphne (Petaluma, CA)
Onward, Christian soldiers. The battle cry of the religious right embodies the Bible's instruction to create missions and turn everyone else into another Christian soldier. People always write about this being a Christian country, while we have every religion including atheism (which is also a religion). If we could only somehow remove religion from politics, we'd become a just country. This fight over abortion is simply part of a religious battle. Cast the mote from thine own eye (and ask yourself whether you are using your personal religion as a weapon against your neighbor.)
Calworkman (Smartypants)
@Daphne This is a secular country; religious laws are not allowed and there is no favored (or outlawed) state religion. That's what separation of church and state means. It does NOT mean that any idea is invalid if the person holding that idea is religious. A person may oppose abortions because they think God does, but they can't make that argument in court. And consider this: two very important social movements in this country--the abolition of slavery and opposition to capital punishment--got their start in churches? Should we therefor go back to slavery and public executions?
David (Allentown,PA)
Well said! And we can't forget that the Civil Rights Movement was also based in churches. There Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Maybe the OP wants to overturn Civil Rights also.
Daphne (Petaluma, CA)
@Calworkman My point was not to insinuate that religion was bad, or that people should not believe whatever they please as long as it doesn't harm others. Separation of Church and State is what is NOT happening. Look at our Supreme Court.
MJB (Brooklyn)
I don’t know if Ross’s memory has failed or he’s simply blinkered by the conservative tendency to treat violence against abstractions – like a potential life or private property – as worse than harming a living person, but the reason the FBI would react to crimes by anti-abortion extremists with greater alacrity is obvious. Anti-abortion activists have a long history of murder and violence. Since the 1990s, anti-abortion activists have been responsible for at least 11 murders, one of involved bombing the Atlanta Olympics. Their record includes more than a dozen attempted murders, including one possible attempt at assassinating a Supreme Court judge. They’ve committed more than 500 physical assaults, three kidnappings, dozens of acid attacks, and are responsible for more than 300 anthrax terror threats. The anti-abortion Army of God is identified as an underground terror organization. This list doesn’t include the destruction of property charges, which number into the thousands. I am not condoning property damage, but the comparison to a relatively handful non-lethal attacks that apparently took place when the perpetrators knew there was the least chance of harming a human seems the worst sort of false equivalence. Pro-life advocates should thank their twisted and perverse image of the Divine that pro-choice advocates have not mirrored their own tactics and be grateful that, at least, one side of this culture war respects the sanctity of human life.
See also