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Thornton Hall

The Revolution Will Be Kuhnian.

That’s What I’m Talking About

I ran into a couple of people recently who sound like me.

Me: Ideology doesn't work the way people think it works and all politics is "Identity Politics".

"People don't vote for what they want. They vote for who they are." Kwame Anthony Appiah writes in the Washington Post:

Still, if tribalism is responsible for some of the worst aspects of our politics, it’s also responsible for some of the best. According to the historian David Herbert Donald, the 19th-century abolitionists belonged to a tribe — essentially, an old-line Northern elite displaced by a new commercial and manufacturing class — that sought to regain its position through ethical crusades. The moral math was correct, but social identity was what helped it spread. Another kind of tribalism helped the civil rights movement go mass. We’re always hearing that the Democrats lost the South when — especially after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — the party of segregation became the party of civil rights. And the red shift was real. But we don’t pause to reflect on how partisan identity politics actually slowed that defection.

Me: Good journalism doesn't stand apart from politics and analize it like a horse race, good journalism--from Alexander Hamilton to William Lloyd Garrison to Ida B. Wells to Frederick Douglass to Horace Greeley to Joseph Pulitzer to Mike Royko--participates in democracy. 

"I Helped Create Insider Political Journalism. Now It's Time For It To Go Away." Ben Smith writes in Buzzfeed:

As the institutions of journalism gear up for another presidential campaign, we face an audience that isn’t just bored by tactical, amoral, insidery, and mostly male-dominated political reporting: Americans of all political stripes now actually hate it, and the sports metaphors that used to be a great way to go viral are now the quickest path to a Twitter ratio. The game changer, the horse race, the Hail Mary — apt, perhaps, for the party politics of the 1990s and 2000s — are painfully inadequate for the movement politics of a new era, with higher stakes, higher passions, and far wider interest.


The one thing that’s clear is that the new political journalism has to be built for a moment of crisis, not stability... And I think that most of all, the political journalism of that crisis is no longer a special genre of journalism, but instead the core of the profession: getting to the truth, explaining the world, and often telling stories with a clear right and wrong.



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