Nobody has the time for lengthy research into every aspect of an issue. We all rely on public representatives in politics, in the media, whose job it is to delve into the gritty details and summarise the pertinent points for us.
I usually do this by reading opposing views on a topic. But headlines are increasingly hijacked by rabid partisan politics and monied interests (especially given the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning corporate spending limits). The news is like an entertainment industry anymore (eg talk show radio). It’s insidiously not limited to their viewership, diverting the national attention and precious energy away from constructive dialogue, which the country so badly needs.
Being outside the country probably makes it easier to find rationale reasoned scholarship; I’m amazed at the poor quality of dialogue on the mainstream media outlets when I was in the US for six weeks at the end of last year, not to mention the numerous paid infomercials dominating the airwaves. I’m so grateful to twitter and the blogosphere for triangulating the news these days.
One thing I find interesting is the purge among the GOP of many of its bright minds who refuse to be blinded by rigid ideological purity. This religion of “American exceptionalism” needs dialogue, but that seems not forthcoming. Dissent is un-American according to the GOP. With such appalling characters in the public eye (eg Palin), I wonder why there aren’t any conservative comedians?
So these days the following moderate conservatives are on my reading list, many of whom I suppose have been rejected by their party: Andrew Sullivan, Clive Crook, David Frum, Julian Sanchez, Megan McArdle, David Brooks, Bruce Bartlett, Tyler Cowen. Who else should I read that isn’t frothing at the mouth resentful, angry-at-the-world, raving fanatics?