I’m very excited to announce a new project.
Over the last twenty years of producing Political Wire, I’ve had a front row seat to American politics and how it’s changed over time. From Bill Clinton’s impeachment to the rise of Donald Trump, I’ve pushed out the stories for more than two decades I thought were important in understanding the day’s political news. At the same time, it’s always been done under the umbrella of this website—meaning I’ve always had the analytics and reader feedback to tell what exactly was garnering the most attention and why.
In other words, I’ve been lucky to see how the rules of our politics have been changing in as close to real-time as possible. And it’s been done with the same tools that have brought on so much of that change—the Internet, social media, and the increasingly diverse number of different media outlets we can choose. Digital technologies have completely transformed the way we follow politics—and in doing so—rewrote the rules governing our politics as well.
Initially, I wanted to write a book called Curveball that outlined how Howard Dean, Barack Obama and a new generation of operatives had inverted so many of the classic rules established in one of my favorite books — Chris Matthew’s Hardball published in 1988. It seemed to me that Chris’s landmark work needed to be updated for our more interconnected, technology-dominated times.
The 2016 election convinced me my premise was true. Whatever you think of Donald Trump’s election, it was a watershed event that showed how flimsy and— well—wrong so many of our assumptions about politics were.
I bounced the idea off David Jonas—a longtime reader and talented contributor to Political Wire. An alum of the Obama campaign himself, David said something to the effect of, “Yeah, except it seems like politics today is more like trying to hit a spitball than a curveball. It’s just all over the place.”
David was right. People are winning at politics, but it feels like the game is broken. It’s like you have to cheat a little bit – by throwing spitballs — just to have a chance.
The more we collectively thought about it, the more we liked the idea. So we decided to write Spitball – in effect updating Hardball to reflect how people are playing the game of politics today.
We’re going to do this a little differently: David and I will serialize chapters of the book—roughly one a month—and put them up on a special page for Political Wire members. We hope you will read our ideas and give us feedback. We will then go back to the drawing board, see what’s stuck, and put together a whole new draft of the book.
Not a day goes by when we don’t learn something from this special community. That means Spitball won’t be just written by us, it will also be written by Political Wire readers. Think of yourselves as the umpire as we try to document these new rules in the game of politics.
You can read the chapters here: Spitball: The New Rules of Our Broken Politics.