Neither ideology nor politics defines my work, but that doesn't mean I'm without bias - consider me a partisan for public discourse, California roots, and disagreement in conversation.
The press critic Jay Rosen often complains about The View From Nowhere, his term for the conceit that professional journalists are impartial observers bereft of opinions or predispositions. "It's an attempt to secure a kind of universal legitimacy that is implicitly denied to those who stake out positions or betray a point of view," Rosen writes. "American journalists have almost a lust for the View from Nowhere because they think it has more authority than any other possible stance." But every time I ponder his suggestion that writers instead be transparent about their perspective, sketching it somewhere so that interested readers might size them up, I've been conflicted.
An "about page" of that kind appeals to me in theory. I've even written a mini-essay titled Pragmatically Toward Libertarianism that explains how my thinking about American politics has evolved. What nagged at me was the feeling that a focus on political orientation gave credence to the lazy conceit that the ideological divide between right and left, or the partisan divide among Republicans, Democrats and independents is the appropriate lens through which everything in life should be seen. There are some fine ideologically driven magazines in America, and in its history. But there is an inherent tension between the political brinkmanship to which they're prone and the style of journalism that commands my ultimate loyalty. My guiding light is the conviction that a robust public discourse - grounded in facts and the forceful, intellectually honest exchange of conflicting opinions - is the best method available for refining ideas and flourishing as a polity.