A few years ago, I wrote a blogpost in which I described a blunt taxonomy carving political observers into two types. I suggested that everyone falls somewhere on the line (which is a continuum) between political naifs, at one extreme, and politicl cynics, at the other. My central claim was that naifs believe that politics is fundamentally about devising and implementing good policy. Cynics believe that it is about acquiring and exercising political power.
While virtually no one is a pure cynic or unalloyed naif, I think there is no doubt that the distinction does articulate two clear approaches to understanding how politics does, or ought to, function. I also think that understanding whether a given columnist is coming at things from one side or the other can be a useful heuristic for understanding the argument that is being made.
At any rate, the original post gets tweeted and mentioned on social media fairly regularly by people whose work I respect and admire, so it suggests to me that I’m not the only one who finds the schema useful.… Continue reading