I wrote this incomplete draft way back in 2019 but never finished or published it in the mêlée of law school. Posting the fragments now for completeness.
It may not come as much of a surprise given that over a month has passed since I last published anything here, but the time has come for me to wind down Semi-Partisan Politics.
I won’t say terminate, because I know myself too well – on those increasingly rare occasions where frustration with the state of the world and personal free time intersect, I will doubtless still post the odd article. But the frequency is likely to be markedly reduced going forward.
The primary reason is that writing a semi-regular political blog is simply not compatible with the demands of American law school. I want to become the best lawyer I can be so that I can actually shape some of the national and global conversations which I’ve written about in a more meaningful way – taking part rather than commenting to a small (though highly valued) group of readers. Time spent writing a 2000-word polemic that is read by maybe 2000 people (I estimate that my word:reader ratio is about 1:1) is time that could be better spent immersing myself in the law and actually building the foundation on which something approximating knowledge or expertise might one day rest.
I have been posting my political rants here for nearly seven years. I started eight years ago after my return from Chicago, primarily as an escape and a pressure release valve. I was very green to begin, very much a cookie-cutter Tory boy. Some of my very early stuff – where I tried to pass myself off in tone as a pound shop Andrew Sullivan – makes me cringe to the extent that I won’t look at anything on the blog date stamped earlier than 2015, and precious little of it even after that.
However, I soon developed and improved, my disappointment with Cameron’s Continuity Blairism leading me to argue for a more muscular, conviction based conservatism. I completed my transition from ardent euro federalist as an 18-year-old student to being a firm brexiteer with a strong focus on the democratic aspect, though it took several more years and the invaluable tutelage and guidance of Pete and Dr. Richard North – and the Leave Alliance, with whom I was proud to campaign during the 2016 referendum and which I still support – to help me graduate from boilerplate mutterings about tearing down regulations and igniting a free trade revolution towards (hopefully) more nuanced commentary about the technocratic and geopolitical complexities.
Participating in the online political conversation has become toxic, and increasingly pointless. When an SNP MP sicced his band of rabid Twitter followers on me the day that my wife and I were taking our last walk through Hampstead Heath before leaving Britain for America, I found myself not enjoying the gentle beauty of the surroundings but furiously typing responses on my smartphone and feeling beaten down by the rolling barrage of abuse. Political Twitter is a vicious, angry little bubble where the politico-media class flaunt themselves and everyone else shouts at one another without bothering to listen. It encourages performative declarations and mob justice, not useful dialogue.
Reflect on writing career.
Got quite well advanced into researching a book on the future of British conservatism, but the more I came to see of it through attending various Westminster events and talking to people, the less I cared about whether conservatism in its current form – let alone the present Tory Party – survives or not. In fact, I think the time is overdue for some creative disruption and a political realignment along the new societal faultlines and global challenges which transcend the current party system and which we all know to exist yet spend far too little time discussing, let alone adapting our behavior and institutions to meet these challenges.
Some good ppl in Westminster – Chloe SW
Blog had some success – linked in NR and TNR, Guardian and others. Some rather less successful tv appearances. Certain series picked up some good traction and therefore delivered the temptation to go “all in” on these areas – notably my “tales from the safe space” series. But there are only so many posts you can write taking outrage at the draconian crackdown on freedom of thought and expression in western universities (and increasingly the corporate and cultural world) before you have said everything there is to say and shouted all the warnings there are to warn. Or at least I think so – others seem content to hang their entire careers on theschtick..
But again, these are but symptoms of far larger tectonic forces moving beneath our society. I’ll read Andrew Sullivan or Rod Dreher and occasionally have a useful side thought or counterpoint to make, but I’m not on their intellectual level and to pull myself up to standard so that I could fully participate in the deeper debate is not compatible with studying for a 3 year US law degree.
Also disheartening to see the mediocrity which gets to cavort before the Westminster tv cameras and write for the prestige media and those who are banished for failing to flatter and change their positions in order to curry favor. Pete has written acidly about many of these individuals, with some justification, and it always brings a smile to my face to watch them console one another on Twitter after Pete North has hurt their feewings with a precision-guided, often wincingly profane, expertise bomb.
Society needs a goal, a unifying purpose if it is to hang together in the face of untrammeled multiculturalism and divisive identity politics. Getting the technocracy right matters. Achieving Brexit in a form that does not equal national self-immolation matters. But it is all for nothing if at the end of it all we cannot find a common purpose to unite us beyond the fact that we all pay taxes and expect government services in return.
I’ve written before about an Apollo program equivalent for education, a national commitment to stop shooting for the middle and aim to have the best schools and the most highly educated young people, equipped for an economy and job market which will require lifelong learning. But it doesn’t have to be that. It could be curing a disease. Going to Mars. Building a huge pyramid with a statue of Boris Johnson atop the pinnacle. At this point it doesn’t really matter. There just needs to be something more to unite the people than
Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Leave a comment.
Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on Twitter, Facebook and Medium.