He Was a Mensch
To say I loved Victor adds little to the commentary, as most everyone felt the same [“Remembering Victor Navasky,” February 20/27]. He was very kind and deeply respectful, fervent in his beliefs yet as lighthearted as one can be while aware of so much injustice, and consistent in integrity and principle. In the years I worked with him, I never saw any hypocrisy, so unusual in a person connected to politics and power.
Mary van Valkenburg
The writer is a former finance director of The Nation.
Get Out the Message
Having researched the long-term grassroots organizing progressives have been doing in and around Phoenix for my recent book, I was excited to see Sasha Abramsky’s “How Democrats Beat Arizona’s Extremist Republicans” [January 9/16] for an update. The article, however, missed the main story. Yes, background on some key Democratic players is interesting, but what is happening in Arizona now is something that progressives have been building for well over a decade. Arizona is contested terrain today only because tens of thousands of new voters were added to the democratic process. Grassroots neighborhood activists have been returning to the same doors each election cycle to fully engage people in political action and actual democratic governance. Since 2010, One Arizona has been the main coalition building voter engagement, which is different from the Democratic Party’s one-shot “get out the vote” strategy. Voter engagement is connected to pushing progressive policy at the local level and recruiting progressive champions to run for office, like Unite Here leader and now–City Councilwoman Betty Guardado in Phoenix and activist state Representative Athena Salman in Tempe.
Shifting power requires systematic long-term plans that are not developed in Washington, D.C., but in states and metropolitan areas. Want to understand why Georgia has two Democratic US senators? You need to know groups like Georgia Stand-Up and campaigns such as those around regional transit equity in metro Atlanta. This kind of organizing is happening around the country, and it is accessible to ordinary people. The message needs to get out.
The writer is a coeditor, with Louise Simmons, of Igniting Justice and Progressive Power: The Partnership for Working Families Cities (2021) from Routledge.
The Paleo Approach
Thank you for your generous reference to our publication and for the generally accurate discussion of our disinclination to get embroiled in foreign conflicts in Jeet Heer’s “Trumpism Was Born in the ’90s” [December 26/January 2]. The terms “paleoconservatives” and “paleolibertarians,” however, are treated as interchangeable, which they are not. In the 1990s there was a close working relationship between the two groups, and the late Murray Rothbard straddled the fence between the two, being both a social traditionalist and an economic libertarian. Our sides also generally agreed about the need to avoid foreign entanglements that might lead to war and expressed similar reservations about the growth and intrusiveness of a centralized managerial state. Where we differed is that paleoconservatives took a strong stand in favor of protecting jobs for American workers and in some cases came out for tariffs—positions that paleolibertarians rejected. Despite this obvious difference, there was a long period of cooperation between the two sides, particularly in our shared opposition to the neoconservatives’ ideologically driven foreign policy and in our abhorrence of government social engineering. These concerns remain strong in our two camps down to the present day, and a new comradeship is already returning to what has been generally referred to as the “Old Right.”
The writer is the editor of Chronicles.