• Is Political Commentary Ever Unbiased?

    A former reader (of all of three days) told me my posts were too political and boring. That’s interesting feedback. Not the boring part. That’s not interesting by definition. I already know I bore some people. But it is interesting to ponder what she might have meant by “political”?

    She could have meant a number of things. It is obvious, even to me, that some of my posts have political content. It could be that she doesn’t like to read about politics or didn’t enjoy my particular political interpretation in one or another of my posts.

    But there is another thing she could have meant that I think is more interesting. She could have surmised from one or another of my posts that my political preferences differ from hers. That is, she could have inferred that I am too liberal or too conservative or too whatever. Having drawn that conclusion she may have then decided that nothing I could write would be of interest to her (let’s ignore the uninteresting fact that she also found my posts boring).

    This relates to something I’ve been pondering for years. Do one’s words necessarily reveal one’s politics? I’ve long thought that it is possible, though perhaps uncommon, to comment on the politics of a situation or to form a judgment about government policy independent of influence of one’s personal political preferences. Am I naive or misguided to think this? I find this line of thought far from boring, even if some of my prior readers might have. What do you think?

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    • That is one of those concepts that economists seem trained to ponder. I know that in my head I attempt to do what you’re talking about much of the time. Back in college when first studying economics, I coined my own term to reflect what I made of your idea: radical centrism. I don’t use it any more since some time after that some of the libertarians have grabbed the term (I am pretty sure they invented it on their own) and made it into something that doesn’t reflect my more engaged/social ideas on the subject. But I do think that an essential aspect of dispassionate political evaluation is eschewing any sense of left/right/liberal/conservative. I think it is possible to do that, although lately it seems mostly to lead one away from political influence and power. Really good policy solutions to problems that never get considered (e.g. why in the stimulus package didn’t we consider giving money to day care providers running businesses out of their homes to free up time/money for parents do work/seek jobs/start their own businesses?) seem to share that lack of big corporate power behind them.

      But to (I’m sorry, but it is) what really is your main point, my wife walks away when I start talking like this and says something like “there he goes again” and certainly agrees that such conversation is boring.

    • Well, your conversation is certainly political, but I have yet to guess with which party you are affiliated (if any).

      Myself, after an earlier post this week, I think I’ve decided never even to mention the president again. (I wrote a post that was not intended politically at all, and people jumped all over it from both sides, thinking I was making a statement having to do with Obama, high taxes, and socialism. Couldn’t have been further from what I was actually talking about…)

      Best of luck to you with navigating the minefield that is your topic. 🙂

    • Possible? Maybe, but it takes a LOT of effort and hard work. Something very few writers are willing to undertake. And even when they do, personal world-views will find their way into your writing. You may not notice, but your readers will!

    • As Colbert said, reality has a well-known liberal bias. What he didn’t also say is that reality is boring.