Why I write this blog


By Joe Campbell
December 9th, 2007

It’s been about two months since I’ve started this blog. I started it knowing only that I wanted to write, and that I already had a dozen ideas for posts or articles. There were many times as well when I would read this or that article and be frustrated at the inaccuracies, and I wanted to correct them, or add to them, and I thought could advance the collective conversation.

This blog has in many ways been more successful than I anticipated – with over 125,000 pageviews and over 80,000 absolute unique visitors in this short time. I’ve been writing only in my free time here and there – a few minutes before lunch at work, after I get home at night, and on weekends.

Recently, I have been trying to determine what exactly it is that I have to offer, and therefore what this blog should be about. My most popular link so far was this funny cat video I came across on a Saturday night and embedded; next was this bit of electoral analysis which has proved remarkably prescient, especially in its title “The Beginning of the End of Hillary 2008”; then comes this uneven piece on the rhetoric used in the debate on what to do about terrorists and terrorism. As you go further down the list, there is one piece of pop-political-philosophy discussing the differences between two libertarian-minded political trends; a mention of Chris Rock’s comments introducing Obama with related video; the contrasting stories of the interrogation of two Al Qaeda related prisoners in the aftermath of September 11; and a video of a cheerleader getting trampled by a football team. The posts cover a wide range – from clear fluff to horse-race analysis of the presidential campaigns to more serious discussions of issues.

What is it that I have to offer?

Given my position – having a full-time job and blogging on the side – I cannot do what I would most want to do, in-depth first person research on every topic.1 But I think there are other things I have to offer. I am a voracious consumer of media – especially about news and politics. I listen to many unedited candidate and policy-maker speeches.2 I care deeply about a number of issues and follow them closely in the news including the issue of liberty in America today, the fate of Pakistan, the attempt to create a practical and moral foreign policy, and the construction of a strategy to wage a smart and effective War on Terror. I read opinions from a broad political spectrum, and take them seriously. Or at least most of them. I have read books by Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Barry Goldwater, as well as books by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, and I regularly read both conservative and liberal blogs and magazines, as well as some radicals that are not so easily classified. 3 I believe I have generally sound judgment and a sense of the political winds, as well as a unique and insightful views on current events.

So what I have to offer is this: a funny video every Saturday; analysis of where the politics is headed in the near and slightly-less-near future; and serious policy discussion (leavened with some humor).

What this blog is about

There is one issue which above all shapes my thoughts today and is the impetus behind this blog: the precariousness of the American experiment. I am convinced that America’s status as a liberal4 democratic republic is in existential danger. This danger is not only from terrorism, but from our government’s response to terrorism. I have come to believe that the Bush administration has undermined and subverted many of the institutions and ideas that have kept executive power in check since our founding: the media, the Supreme Court, the independence of executive agencies, the military, the Congress, and the rule of law. At the same time, the Bush administration has posited monarchical powers for the presidency, they have been relatively reticent in using them. 5 For example, while Bush has asserted the authority to declare any person a terrorist and enemy combatant and hold them secretly and indefinitely without trial or charge and torture them for information, and given such a broad definition of terrorism as to include anyone who even criticizes him, he does not seem to have used this power to the extent he has asserted he can. This has led many people to see the rhetoric of those raising the alarm about these issues as unhinged from the reality of their lives. But because Bush has asserted such powers and undermined every check on his power, we are closer than ever to a police state.

Let me be clear – I think in every practical sense, America today is far from a police state. But with the theoretical foundations laid down by this administration, and the subversion of any check on executive power, we seem to be only one 9/11 away from a fall from authentic liberal democracy. It is this concern that is the prism which affects how I see every issue: it is why I became a Barack Obama supporter; why I am afraid of Rudy Giuliani; why I am so opposed to torture; why I am so concerned about our strategy in the War on Terrorism; why I started this blog; and why I will continue to write and seek other ways to affect America’s fate.

Top 7 articles

  1. I am trying to do this though, and to do it more – sending emails, letters, and in other ways trying to contact the subjects of my pieces; and also trying to get more information in this way. []
  2. Through C-Span, the Constitution Center, and the Council of Foreign Relations primarily. []
  3. I believe there is a third way in politics – but that neither Bill Clinton nor his wife have found it, relying instead on cynical triangulation and the papering over of large differences with clever rhetoric. []
  4. In the classical sense. []
  5. Only relative to what they have asserted is their power. For example, the Bush administration has asserted that it does not need Congressional approval to go to war, but it still asked for it. []

One Response to “Why I write this blog”

  1. Andrew Belter Says:

    Keep up the excellent work.
    I myself am a Kos Libertarian by your definition, and was extremely pleased when I found your site and started looking around (another site had linked to your story about the subway love story). It’s always nice to see a blog like this run by someone who’s well-informed and well-intentioned, but also realizes the value of throwing in a post just for fun. Even when you go a few days without a post, you can count on me coming back the next week and seeing what other insight you have to offer.

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