Welcome to PolicySphere. We hope to earn your readership and your trust.
What is PolicySphere? First, a dry answer: PolicySphere is a media outlet (right now, a blog) dedicated to intelligent coverage of domestic U.S. policy, from a right-of-center perspective, intended for right-of-center policy professionnals.
Every word of that phrase matters to us.
First and foremost, we want to be a useful tool and resource to help professionals do their jobs better on a daily basis. That is the criterion by which we intend to judge ourselves.
To be more clear: we are not a “journal of ideas,” as good and important as those are–if you want great conservative journals of ideas, there are many excellent ones out there. Nor do we cover “political news” in the traditional sense; while we certainly can’t and won’t ignore politics insofar as it affects policy, our focus is policy: the policy that is currently being made, and the policy that could realistically be made tomorrow, or the day after. We are guaranteed #Impeachment-free.
Another important point: we are a work in progress. We hope to stick to a quasi-daily publishing schedule, but as a (currently) one-man part-time venture, we may not be able to. More importantly, we crave reader feedback to improve our content and our coverage.
We describe our focus as “right-of-center,” because even though we most definitely have a point of view (more on which below), our purpose is not, certainly not primarily, to advocate for a specific perspective within the broad conservative tent, and we want to be a useful resource for everyone within the tent. We don’t believe in fake “objectivity” which is inevitably a mask for a point of view, but we do believe in fairness, intellectual honesty, and respectful dialogue within the Right.
So, what’s our point of view? Well, here are some more beliefs that we want to guide our work.
First, policy matters. A lot. And the ways in which it matters, matter.
The Left has a malady. Going back to its 19th century roots, the goal of the progressive movement has been to eliminate politics to replace it with technique. The Industrial Revolution had shown that politics was no longer a matter of values, dialectic or rhetoric, but a scientific and engineering discipline. This was, of course, humbug then and now.
But in responding to this with the true and important point that ideas have consequences and that humans are not robots, conservatives too often go to the other extreme of acting as if policy doesn’t matter. “Politics is downstream from culture,” some of us like to say. If policy is downstream from politics, and politics downstream from culture (and culture downstream from metaphysics), then policy cannot be important. There is some real truth to that slogan, but we believe that it is more accurate to say that policy, politics, culture and metaphysics are a complex ecology, with influence going in every direction. Policy can affect culture. No-fault divorce is a policy, and that policy has transformed marriage culture. Welfare policy has affected the culture of the American underclass.
Here are some of the important ways policy matters:
- Policy makes a difference in people’s lives. It is amazing that it has to be said. Policy affects people in manifold ways, direct and indirect. That alone makes it important.
- Policy matters politically. It is false to say, as Washington insiders so often do, that voters “don’t care about policy.” The Trump campaign was the most policy-driven campaign in a generation. Voters might or might not care about Candidate X’s 30-page brief. But they do care about policies that can make a concrete difference to their countries and that capture people’s imagination. “Build the Wall,” “renegotiate trade deals,” “take care of everyone” through the health care system: these are policies. Successful political realignments are policy-driven. Conservatives must abandon the myth that Ronald Reagan ran on Barry Goldwater’s agenda and won on that agenda simply because he was a better communicator. Ronald Reagan ran a campaign on policy solutions to specific problems that majorities of Americans experienced and were exasperated by: inflation, economic stagnation, bracket creep, crime. And, by the way, he ran as a populist: “government that rides with us, not on our backs” is not the nightwatchman state.
- Policy matters to achieving success. The goal of a political movement is not to win elections. It is to affect outcomes. And the way to achieve that outcome is through policy. It is a skill, and a talent. Every revolution needs cadres, Vladimir Lenin–the greatest political genius of the 20th century–is reported to have said. In the business world, everybody understands that a great idea and a buck will buy you a cup of coffee: the best idea in the world is worthless without the talent to execute that idea well.
Second, the current policy consensus is broken. This is true of the bipartisan, “neoliberal” consensus. Humans are not utility-maximizing machines, and they want more out of life than cheaper Chinese-made consumer goods. This is also true of the consensus on the Right. There may have been a time when the only or best way to get what we want–strong families, a thriving middle class, a prosperous economy–was to “get the government out of the way.” This is almost certainly still true in specific instances relating to specific problems, but it is no longer universally true.
Third, understanding problems is important; but solutions are very important too. There is a growing clarity on the right about what problems ail us. Much less so about solutions. For example: is Big Tech a problem? If so, in what specific ways and for what specific reasons? But, more importantly, what specifically should be done about it, beyond emoting?
Those are some of our beliefs. It’s a start, anyway.