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What You Learn from Going ‘in the Arena’

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What You Learn from Going ‘in the Arena’

The Bulwark June 22, 2020
Public SectorReinventing Government

We need more of our commentators—and more of our citizens in general—to get hands-on experience with politics and government.

Many political analysts and commentators are in the business of explaining how they would have done things differently. And business has been booming.

The last two decades of crises—from Katrina and Iraq, to the financial collapse and you-can-keep-your-doctor, to ignored red lines and COVID-19, to our current economic emergency and civil unrest—have provided unending fodder for armchair authorities. So, perhaps unsurprisingly, this has become a growth industry; there is no shortage of individuals willing to take to the keyboard to expound on what should have been.

But in surveying the landscape of critics, one can’t help but notice how few of these supposed experts on governing actually have meaningful experience in governing. When you consider the columnists for major newspapers, the writers for politics-and-policy outlets, the talk-radio or cable-news hosts, and the academics regularly engaged in public affairs, you will certainly find terrific journalists, writers, pollsters, campaign hands, scholars, and social critics. What you won’t find nearly enough of are people who have been personally shaped by extensive work inside of our democratic institutions—and who know what it’s like to be responsible for public authority and live with the consequences of those decisions.

Continue reading the entire piece here at The Bulwark


Andy Smarick is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and previously served as president of Maryland’s state board of education. Follow him on Twitter here.

Photo by Wenbin/iStock