Some people are politics junkies. Others are addicted to news. I am more of a “why” kind of guy.
I grew up in a fairly non-political family. My parents were blue-collar, and I started out in a blended family. My dad was a widower with three boys, my mom was a divorcee with two girls, and together they had my brother and me. I was the baby—born in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1964, when the Vietnam War was ramping up and the space race was white hot.
I don’t believe my mother ever voted for anyone but a Democrat her whole life. She’d vote a straight blue ticket, and she always voted. She divorced my dad when I was just four, and married my step-dad, Danny, when I was eleven. We moved to seacoast New Hampshire after that, where I did most of my growing up.
Although my mother, father and stepfather were all blue-collar workers, they believed in hard work and education. My dad was a tool and die maker at General Electric for 40 years. That position no longer exists—it’s been replaced by desktop CAD and numerical control machines. He used to do trigonometry in his head. My step-dad was a welder at the same GE plant, also for four decades—he ran the welding school in the marine steam turbine division.
All five of my mother’s children attended college. Of my six siblings, four graduated college, including myself. My oldest brother Roy had a degree in chemical engineering from Northeastern—he passed away last year. My brother Barry had a great career as an electrician, and eventually an inspector for the MBTA in Boston; he retired recently.
My two sisters both went to the University of Massachusetts, and my brother Jay and I graduated from the University of New Hampshire.
My mother and father were both full-blooded Jews, and ensured we had a Jewish education. My stepfather was Italian, but converted to Judaism at 50 years old to marry my mother (including the, err, anatomical bit). We were generally non-observant Jews, but I had seven years of Hebrew, which I can still read and understand.
The first presidential election I voted in was 1984. I voted for Reagan. My mom voted for Mondale, whom I couldn’t stand.
By the time I left college, I was fairly non-political (but left-leaning), very technical, and confident that I could do whatever I put my mind to. I remember Bill Clinton giving a speech literally in the field behind my condo in 1992. When the whole Gennifer Flowers thing erupted, I remember thinking “well, he’s dead.” I voted for Perot that year.
Then I moved to Central Georgia, where I observed the great lamentation and gnashing of teeth at Clinton’s election. I couldn’t understand why they so despised the man—after all he was a southerner like Jimmy Carter, right?
As I began to learn about politics and people, I realized that the “why” of ideas mattered far more than the “who” or the “team.” I began to realize that political contests are many times just popularity contests. I realized that the people we end up with in elected office, at the local, state, and federal level, are deeply flawed, and usually not the most competent person to do the job.
I learned that the biggest embedded self-interest group in America is the government itself, made up of a million people drawing paychecks funded by our taxes.
And I learned that the news we see, both online and on the boob tube, is generally presented to us in a way to influence our thinking, not to educate us to make our own decisions.
In 1995, I started a small company to sell Internet service in Warner Robins, Georgia. Less than a year later, I left my job at Robins Air Force Base to run that company full time. We started it with $52,000 in scraped-together capital, and sold it five years later for $2.5 million.
Then I spent about 15 years in various positions at a software company, incubating a payment services company, and helping to sell both to a multinational public corporation. By then, I’d had it with corporate life.
My experience with helping political campaigns, taught me it’s a dirty business filled with lots of charlatans and featherbedders, and you had to be careful to choose honest, competent people. Just like the news, just like business, just like government, it’s best to know “why” than just to blindly root for a team.
One day at my corporate job, the executive I reported to made an offhand remark that I could have another career as a writer after he read a motivational piece I wrote for my employees. So in 2014, I began pursuing that. I probably should have started in 1992.
What can I say? I’m a late bloomer.
I wrote a diary at RedState, and published on my own blog. I began writing for the local newspaper (I still do). I wrote for a year at Bizpac Review. Then I was offered the opportunity to be a featured contributor for Erick Erickson’s new website, The Resurgent. I was there the day the site debuted.
I’ve been cited by the New York Times, had pieces picked up by Fox News and RealClearPolitics, and published in The Stream.
Instead of simply cheerleading or spinning the news, I think it’s vital to know why things happen. I think it’s important to read news and trends from smaller outlets, by sometimes unknown writers.
I believe we learn more about the human condition by reading Flannery O’Connor on raising peafowl, or Adam Serwer on Robert E. Lee (Serwer is a senior political editor at The Atlantic) than the daily fare served up by the New York Times or Washington Post.
Why people believe what they believe is far more important than what some celebrity or senator thinks about the latest Trump tweets.
Of course, it’s important to keep up with news and events. Failing to do so is like putting one’s head in a gas oven that won’t heat up looking for the pilot light, while breathing in the gas.
But going deeper and to the edges of that coverage, and getting to the “whys” is the main reason I took on the responsibility of editing The New Americana. As a news aggregator, my goal is to do more than simply regurgitate the latest news and reactions, but to give that news a context and a vibrant canvass for you, the reader, to form educated and intelligent opinions.
Life is best when we know why we believe what we believe. It’s my mission at The New Americana to make it the place you go with your morning coffee and throughout the day for high quality, deep content. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy preparing it for you.