Alternatives to Horse Race Coverage of Elections

In case you haven’t seen. My thread with reactions and pushback from journalists who cover politics. ⚡️ “Election coverage in 2020 is on track to be even worse than 2016” by @jayrosen_nyuhttps://t.co/NtQ07El3lF— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) February 10, 2019


This thread is to discuss alternative ways to cover a presidential campaign–specifically avoiding emphasis on the horse race, which candidates are ahead versus behind, and the analyzing the strategy and tactics the candidates employ to win the contest.

Rosen mentions going to voters to find out what they want to hear the candidates adddress, and build the coverage around these concerns. I like the idea, and I will respond to some of the other concerns that Rosen raises, but I want to start by discussing an approach that I’ve longed favored.

In addition to covering the the issues that the candidate and voters care about, including the policies favored by the candidate, I’d like to see the press evaluate whether the candidates have the attributes that good president’s possess. To do this the press should first identify the qualities that most good presidents seem to possess, seeking the help of historians, former presidents, white house aides, etc. Once the press identifies these qualities, they can then seek ways to analyze the candidates based on whether they have these attributes or not. Here, the press would work like an employer doing research on a potential employee.

One way the press could do this is creating a chart for each candidate. As the campaigns progress, the journalists can gather information and fill in the chart. Maybe at the start of campaign there will be many unknowns about the candidates–the journalists may be uncertain about certain attributes–e.g., knowledge, character, leadership, negotiating skills, etc. Over the time voters will see these charts fill up as journalist collect more information.

On a related note, part of the candidates’ profiles can include the overall governing philosophy of the candidate. What is their political philosophy and ideology? How was it formed? What are some expressions of this philosophy? I care about this as much, if not more, than their specific policy proposals.

Notes on His Excellency by Joseph Ellis

This is a short biography on George Washington. In addition to the fact that I really like Ellis as a writer and historian, Ellis offered something that appealed to me–namely, to provide a reason Washington garnered tremendous respect and admiration from all the other Founding Fathers, even though many were more well educated and intellectually superior. I’m not sure if Ellis provides a clear answer to this question, but here is my sense of the reasons Washington had universal respect from the Founding Fathers. Continue reading “Notes on His Excellency by Joseph Ellis”

Why Americans Should Care About the Current Rules-Based International System

Today, Veteran’s Day, I came across the twitter thread below, which I thought was apropos. The thread does an overview of WWI, and how it lead to WWII. What’s important in my view is that an international system based on the rule of law versus the rule of the jungle has been the key to peace. An international system characterized by the rule of the jungle–where might makes right–likely leads to war and military conflict–one that we should assume would involve the U.S. (Ludes lists the number of people that died in both wars, breaking them down by country.)

I hope you take the time to read the thread. It’s fitting for our current politics and also fitting for a day when we should reflect on those who gave their lives to serve their country.

Notes on Reply All Episodes #127 and #128: “The Crime Machine, Part 1 and 2”

The Reply All podcast had a recent two part show that I really liked. (You can listen to them here (part 1) and here (part 2). My background in government and public administration is a big reason for my interest in these two episodes, but I’m pretty sure both of you will find this interesting and entertaining.

This thread will be place to jot down my thoughts on the podcasts.

If you really want to know a summary, I’ll give you one, but I think you should just listen to the first ten minutes, and if that doesn’t grab you, you can take a pass. Before I give a summary, I will say that part of what I think you’ll find interesting is the profile of one of the people in this. For me, he’s the type of fictional detective I’d really like (or used to) in a Hollywood movie or detective fiction. I think you would guys will find him interesting. Here’s a summary of the episodes. Continue reading “Notes on Reply All Episodes #127 and #128: “The Crime Machine, Part 1 and 2””