WANTED: struggling young writers.
Ted Halstead, thirty, the author of our cover article, "A Politics for Generation X," is a venture capitalist of talent and ideas. Not even a year old, his New America Foundation (he is the president and chief executive officer) exists to help launch the careers of young journalists with a demonstrated interest in politics and public policy. Fellowships last at least a year, during which it is preferred that the writer is in residence at the foundation's Washington offices. There is no ideological fine print, Halstead says, and then adds some: "No National Review conservatives, no Nation liberals. We are seeking writers whose views do not fit into the traditional left-right boxes."
Halstead is a Dartmouth graduate with a master's degree from the Mid-Career program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, at Harvard. When restless, he starts foundations. In 1993, at the age of twenty-five, with $15,000, Halstead founded Redefining Progress, a San Francisco-based think tank; it now has a budget of $2 million. With his colleagues Jonathan Rowe and Clifford Cobb, Halstead wrote the much-cited cover story for the October, 1995, Atlantic, "If the GDP Is Up, Why Is America Down?" That article proposed a new way of measuring economic growth -- one that took account of its environmental and other costs.
The agenda Halstead outlines in "A Politics for Generation X" reflects the general prospectus of the New America Foundation, which describes an "America suffer[ing] from an impoverished public debate in which neither side of the political divide is adequately addressing the ... problems of our time." New America's mission is "to build a new set of political ideas based on innovative and pragmatic solutions" and "to train and support the next generation of public intellectuals." Thus the hypothetical help-wanted ad above should more accurately read "Wanted: New Public Intellectuals" -- though that would probably discourage all but those self-important beyond their years.
-- THE EDITORS
Photograph by Wesley Wong.
The Atlantic Monthly; August 1999; 77 North Washington St. - 99.08; Volume 284, No. 2; page 6.