Who Should the New York Times Hire to Speak for the Bernie Left?

James Bennet is the editorial page editor of the New York Times. He started a couple of years ago, and immediately decided the op-ed page needed more intellectual diversity. One of his first hires was Bret Stephens from the Wall Street Journal, followed by a couple of other conservatives—which sent certain precincts of the left into a tizzy. He also hired some new liberals, but so far all his new writers have been center-left and center-right kinds of people. Andrew Sullivan thinks he should go further:

In 2018, it seems to me you need to have someone who can represent the Bernie left. It’s the ascendant wing of the Democratic Party, after all, and after decades of neoliberalism, its time is surely coming again. The way in which no one on that page saw Trump coming, and had no grip on the populism gaining in strength everywhere was a pretty giant indictment of the insularity of left-liberal groupthink. Let’s hear from someone who is in favor of drastic redistribution and opposed to the hideous identity politics that now saturates the left and alienates everyone else.

….And you also need someone who is pro-Trumpism. It’s absurd that not a single writer on the op-ed page comes from this kind of background — realist and anti-intervention in foreign policy, anti–mass immigration, anti–free trade, and populist at home. Let’s see such a person tackle Stephens’s unreconstructed neoconservatism — from the right.

Pro-Trumpism almost inherently includes a healthy dose of racism in the mix, so I’m not sure who you could get for that. I’m more interested in the Bernie liberal. There are plenty of them around, so that’s not the problem. The problem is that most of them are unreadable. This is something that struck me decades ago, long before I started blogging. In fact, I eventually grew to suspect that on the few occasions an op-ed page hired a far-lefty, they deliberately chose someone who would embarrass themselves and their movement.

So who would be good at this? It needs to be somebody who can represent the Bernie left, but can do it in a way that appeals to the center-left readers who mostly read the Times. Any ideas?


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