Wonk Politics

Feb 1 2013 @ 4:00pm

Bhaskar Sunkara bemoans the rise of technocratic bloggers like Ezra Klein:

Klein is the archetype for the bankruptcy of modern liberalism, so much so that he disavows being a liberal at all. He’s a technocrat, obsessed with policy details, bereft of politics, earnestly searching for solutions to the world’s problems through the dialectic of an Excel spreadsheet.

Conor Williams disagrees:

The wonks aren’t really the problem. After all, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with fact-based policies. They beat the hell out of the alternative. Sophisticated policy analysis is fine, even necessary, once we’ve (politically) hashed out the relevant value-laden objectives that we’re after. Snazzy charts alone can’t settle whether or not the United States should pursue educational equity or stratification. That’s a moral and political question. Wonky analysis can help us get a better sense of which policies might encourage one or the other (only when it’s done right, though). Wonks can be useful, so long as we remember the appropriate contours of their expertise.