Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why I read themail

I've been reading themail since I started in advocacy in DC in 1996 as an intern at DC Action for Children.   Back then, it was the only thing of its kind.   Today I was reminded of why I still read it.   The DC Watch team (Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff) reports back with responses to what is painted as a "generationalists" debate―young 'uns versus old folks or, put another way, those interested in green, walkable communities deliberately excluding automobiles versus all others.

So what's so important about this particular issue (October 18, 2012) of themail?   This:

This is an ironic payback for the liberals and radicals of the baby boomer generation that in the 1960’s invented the motto, "Don’t trust anyone over thirty."

I'm not taking sides on this latest old vs. new debate.   What I am doing is trying to use what I know from the past, learn what I don't know about the past, and inform policy and practice today and tomorrow.   There's no better example of this than the blog post "Some thoughts about the Health Benefit Exchange Navigator Program" published today.

My final word for today on this: There is plenty of room at the policy table for all perspectives.   Advocates on all sides of an issue should remember this and understand that personal views may change over time.   So what you want 10, 20, 30 years from now may be very different from what you are advocating today.


  1. gary and dorothy's screeds (and the letters they choose to publish from others) attacking people who are "interested in green, walkable communities deliberately excluding automobiles versus all others" (emphasis added) are attacking something that does not exist. GGW and the like are not fighting any kind of fight to eliminate the automobile. we're pushing for more choices for people to get around, more choices for the homes people can live in, more choices for neighborhoods to grow (because if you're not growing and changing, you're dying).

    it's a wonderful strawman they set up to attack, but it's nothing more than that. it's like people complaining that the ability of more to get married (gay and lesbian citizens, for example, or blacks and whites in the days of loving v. virginia) will somehow take away from their own marriage. like life is a zero-sum game. it's not.

    (and i bring that up too because gary has attacked marriage equality as well in the past.)

    bottom line - their complaints are born from a place of ignorance. the logical fallacy is enormous.

  2. Thanks for commenting. I'm not taking a position on the arguments themselves. I don't know enough about the underlying issues. What I am saying, though, is that the quote resonated with me. I've seen time and again that folks (residents, paid advocates, policy makers) take a position that is something akin to my way or the highway, if you don't agree with me I don't want to talk with you, etc. I just don't think this is a productive way to have a public discourse on public policy issues. Maybe I could have framed the post differently. But I do find value is hearing all sides, having it pointed out where there are errors (as you've done), etc.

  3. Susie: To be clear, I'm not saying you're framed anything incorrectly. I'm saying that the position taken by "themail" that those in favor of bike lanes, for example, are also de facto trying to completely eliminate cars from the road is a absurd reduction that fails to see the nuance in the situation. It shows, to me, a lack of sophistication in their world view.


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