The year 2012 has been rough for several tribes to which I belong, including Red Sox fans, residents of downtown Manhattan, and (soon enough) middle-class taxpayers with a long way to go until retirement. On the other hand, it’s been a pretty good year for heterodox conservatives, especially those associated with this magazine. We remain on the fringes of the Republican, or any other, party. But as David Brooks, Ross Douthat, Chris Hayes and others have recognized, we’re successfully staking out a position in the public debate.
I’m proud to have made a small contribution to that success since I began contributing to State of the Union last May. Even so, there are many posts that I wish I’d written differently–or not written at all. Unlike Scott Galupo, I lack the probity to subject my work to a comprehensive self-audit. Instead, here are my three resolutions for improvement in 2013.
1. More research. Blogging is a great medium for quick interventions in running debates, as well the development of new ideas. But neither of those advantages excuses shoddy research. Several times in the last year, commenters have pointed out that I’ve overlooked important information or failed to support my claims. They’ve often been right, and my professional and intellectual responsibilities go beyond a Google search. Next year, I resolve to do more and more thorough research before weighing in. Readers of The American Conservative deserve nothing less.
2. More originality. In addition to enabling facile argument, to the rapid-fire character of the Internet encourages piling on. Too many times, I’ve merely echoed another writer’s views, sometimes even a writer for this site. In the coming months, I resolve to add some new fact, argument, or idea to the conversation with each post. I know that I won’t always succeed. But I hope to do better in the attempt.
3. More constructive argument. The posts of mine that have attracted the greatest attention are critical. In other words, they generally argue that someone else is foolish or mistaken. There’s a place for this kind of argument. But it’s only fair that it should be accompanied by positive statements of one’s own view, including specific policy suggestions where they are relevant.
In 2013, then, I aim to say more about the implications for “real politics” of the sometimes abstract principles I have discussed on this site. By doing that, I hope to promote and support the position that the The American Conservative has already achieved as the most lively, thoughtful, and provocative journal on the contemporary Right.
It’s been a great ride so far, and I look forward to even better times with the editors, contributors, commenters, and readers of this site. To all: Happy New Year!