Politics Is Interesting

Annual Report from The Tracinski Letter

Last year, I published the first annual report for The Tracinski Letter, looking back at what the newsletter had accomplished over the previous year and setting out plans for the new year. 2012 was a year of big transitions for the logistics of the newsletter, with a new name and a new website. In 2013, the biggest transition has been in the content of the newsletter.

Last year, I proclaimed that “Politics Is Boring.”

If the election had gone a different way, we might have some interesting things to talk about—a battle royale over entitlement reform, for example….

For advocates of small government, there will be a particular tedium to the next four years. Part of the point of advocating free-market reform is the possibility that someone, somewhere in government might listen to you and act on your ideas. In a Romney administration, or with a Republican-controlled Congress, there would have been some chance. For the next few years, we might as well be talking to a brick wall. We can scream all we like about entitlements and the debt. The administration and the Democrats in the Senate just don’t give a damn.

So over the past year, I have published the majority of my detailed, day-to-day political commentary at RealClearPolitics, while focusing The Tracinski Letter on wider and deeper issues, which eventually included series of articles on technology, the Bible, Atlas Shrugged, sense of life, and the long-term reform of the Republican Party. In general, I have published fewer articles, but articles that are longer and more in-depth.

You may have noticed that what I am basically doing here is building a book factory, with the intention of gathering each these series together in its own volume.

I got a little distracted later in the year and had about a six-week hole punched in The Tracinski Letter’s schedule in September and October as I took time off for extensive work as a script consultant for the third Atlas Shrugged movie. Given how much the story and ideas of the novel mean to me, it was worth offering my best effort. Unfortunately, it’s looking like my work there will not have much impact. Let’s just say that I will not receive and have not asked for a screen credit.

But my effort was not entirely wasted because having to think so concretely and intensively about the novel helped me prepare for my articles on Atlas Shrugged, and I have only begun to publish the new material I’ve come up with. My goal is to polish off the two series which are shortest and closest to completion—”Three Paradoxes of American Politics” and “How to Achieve a Benevolent Sense of Life”—and to publish them shortly. Then I’ll focus on the Atlas Shrugged series, with the goal of being able to put a large number of articles all together by mid-year. Somewhere along the way, I’ll continue the technology series with some installments that are a little more speculative—though not as speculative as you might think. And I’ll continue with the long-term project on the Bible. Eventually, I’ll gather together articles covering the whole of the Old Testament before going on to the New Testament. But this will be going on in the background, so I probably won’t make it quite that far this year.

I have also been distracted at the end of the year by something else. Just as I was coming off the Atlas Shrugged project, politics got interesting again.

What made it interesting, obviously, was the ObamaCare disaster. It was not simply the failure of the program. It was the totality of the failure and the clear lessons it has to offer about the basic ideas behind government control of the economy.

This is going to make politics very interesting and a little bit fun—though it’s the worst kind of fun: schadenfreude, joy in other people’s suffering. There is certainly some legitimate enjoyment to be had in the ideological discomfiture experienced by advocates of government control. But ObamaCare isn’t going to be bad just for the people who deserve to suffer. Indeed, President Obama’s people are cashing out while the rest of us lose our health insurance. So maybe it won’t be that much fun after all.

Which increases the incentive to make sure we learn the lessons of this debacle. If we’re going to go through this, we sure as hell better get something useful out of it.

As I put it a few days ago:

This is the big task for the next year. It seems that the general public had to actually experience the disaster of ObamaCare first-hand, after it was implemented. Now that they can see it all unfolding before their eyes, it is our job to observe, to explain, and to document this massive failure of statism, in an attempt to make sure we learn these lessons once and for all.

So I will take my “Ten Lessons of ObamaCare” as a starting point to be expanded on over the next year. The goal is to take a historic disaster and turn it into a historic opportunity to teach the practical and moral superiority of the free market.

This also implies that I’ll be doing more political commentary again in The Tracinski Letter. It won’t just be about wrangling over the latest muddled congressional compromise or the political horse race—though there’s going to be the devil to pay in the mid-term elections. What makes this more interesting for The Tracinski Letter is that there will be some profound moral and philosophical lessons for us to identify.

It’s a full agenda, and one with a very exciting combination of long-term, big-picture lessons and immediate practical value.

You can help. If you haven’t already renewed or bought a gift subscription, take advantage of the last week of our holiday sale. Please also consider a donation to support The Tracinski Letter. I have expanded the donation page to include a wider range of options, so please go to www.TracinskiLetter.com/subscribe and give as much as you can afford.

Last year, I said that we had finally left the Reagan Era and entered the Obama Era. This is our big chance to end the Obama Era quickly and go back to a new era of liberty and productivity. Let’s make the most of it.

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