Yesterday, a commenter on this blog wrote, “I am not interested in your personal views about the President of the United States.” Why the political analysis in a blog about writing? Because my focus on clear writing and clear thinking demands that I take on whatever writing is in the public eye — and that includes bullshit from all sides of the political spectrum.
Here is how I approach the topics on this blog: I want every day to be a lesson in how people use written or oral communication to do their jobs. I want you to have the tools to analyze what your read and what you write without bias. The god I pray to is not liberalism, conservatism, journalism, or the free market. It is clarity of thinking and writing.
While I’d love to just write “writing tips” every day, there are simply not enough useful tips to make that possible. I do that as often as I can. But I have found that writing about what’s in the news right now is both popular and instructive. So when something is topical, I write about it.
When I write about politics, my take on it is different from what you will read elsewhere, because I always go back to the original text. I don’t write about what other people said, I write from primary sources. What did Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders or whomever I’m writing about say? What did they actually write? Was it clear and powerful, or mealy-mouthed, inconsistent, and polemic? How did they say what they said? Was it effective or ineffective, and why? My hope is that we can learn, not just about politicians, but about politics and writing, from this.
I went back and looked at the last month of posts. Here’s a breakdown (some posts were in multiple categories):
- Politics: 13
- Corporate/academic statements: 7
- Writing tips: 6
- Journalism: 2
- Personal musings: 2
The first two categories reflect what’s in the news. For example, I wrote about the statement of UK Prime Minister Theresa May after the terrorist attack in London and President Trump’s covfefe. I wrote about British Airways’ actions in the midst of two days of cancelled flights and Ford’s justification for dumping thousands of employees. My attitude is always the same: “You just read about this event, but let’s learn from the clarity (or obfuscation) of what people actually said or wrote in the moment.”
I’m happy to write about stuff that’s not in the news, too: if you see something worth analyzing, even if only a few people in your own little world notice it, then send it to me and I’ll analyze it.
If you have a writing question (about anything — usage, writer’s block, managerial meddling, jargon, you name it), send it to me and I’ll address it. I’m your own personal writing coach, and I’ll do it for free.
How I fight bias (and why I write so much about Trump)
My politics are moderate with a lean towards the liberal side.
These days, someone with those politics is supposed to write as much as possible about how conservatives and Trump are evil and how liberals and their leaders (whoever they are . . . I’d still like to see a few) are good. I read that sort of thing on Facebook all the time. “Look at this thing Trump is doing . . . if Hillary were doing it we’d all be outraged.” “Can you believe the even more awful thing Trump did now!” “Pence is just as bad.” Blah blah blah. When you write that way, the people who agree with you will smile, and the ones who disagree will ignore you. Fine, if it makes you feel good. I find it repetitive, self-serving, and annoying.
Because I know my bias, I am always seeking ways to praise clear conservative writing, and to point out the stupidity and hypocrisy in liberal writing.
That’s one reason why I wrote so positively about conservative Theresa May, since she expressed herself so clearly this weekend, and about conservative views from the National Review article just before the election. I analyzed the math behind why Mitch McConnell wouldn’t consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee (and I was right, too).
I’d like to write takedowns of liberal stupidity, but until liberals stand up for themselves, there’s not much to write about. I have little interest in analyzing someone else’s criticism of Donald Trump — too meta. I did write about Bernie Sanders’ vague position on race and the weaknesses in Hillary Clinton’s nomination speech.
But I have written many negative things and not much positive about Trump. Why?
Because Trump contradicts himself regularly, has difficulty articulating coherent arguments, and can’t spell (and won’t get a proofreader). From a political perspective, this is scary. But from a writing and analysis standpoint, this demands attention. When Trump’s team puts out a clear and convincing statement about anything, regardless of whether I agree with it, I’ll analyze it. I’m waiting.
Mitt Romney is clear-headed thinker. Ted Cruz has a very sharp mind. John Kasich is very convincing. If any of these guys were president, my blog would not be so overwhelmingly critical of what they were saying.
And if Hillary Clinton had won, you can bet there would be plenty of criticism of her own mushy statements in this space.
You may think that Donald Trump’s policies on climate change will kill the planet, that he’s a xenophobe and Islamophobe who provides cover for racists, and that his Supreme Court nominees will twist the nation to the right for decades to come. Or you may think that Trump is taking on the ossified establishment, ripping apart politically correct snowflake thinking, and turning the tide back on dangerous globalism. Doesn’t matter to me. I hope to illuminate readers of both mindsets.
But Trump can’t think straight, can’t talk straight, and can’t write straight. That’s my topic. Even if you approve of Trump’s policies and positions, that should matter to you.