Friday, November 30, 2007


Beginning next week, Kyle from Comments from Left Field and I will have a running debate on the topic of public education. Kyle has already posted a pretty comprehensive summary of the concept were shooting for, so it's probably not worth my duplicating his efforts too much.

But the short short explanation is that we are testing a hypothesis, to wit: with reasoned debate a mutually acceptable solution is possible to most policy disputes. Thus, the goal of our discussion will be to find a solution that manages to violate neither side's principles. Importantly, this implies that we seek to prove that politics need not be a zero sum game.

I think this whole discussion should be extremely interesting, as it should become quickly apparent that Kyle and I have vastly different principles and goals. Thus I suspect we will start the debate quite far apart. I also suspect that neither of us will end up compromising our principles just for the sake of a solution- indeed, to do so would represent the failure of our little experiment.

The time frame for our discussion is going to be limited to the months of December and January. If we fail to come to a mutually acceptable solution by the end of January, the experiment is a failure (of course, there are varying degrees of failure). If we come to an agreement, then the experiment is a success.

There is also, I think, one more benefit that will likely come from this experiment. The blogosphere (and internet more broadly) largely has a reputation in the mainstream press for lowering the tone and quality of political debate in this country. While that reputation largely ignores the fact that political debate has been of horrible quality for decades if not centuries (and especially since the start of the 24 hour news cycle), the fact is that there are some elements of the blogosphere that have earned that reputation. The discussion between Kyle and me, however, should at a minimum show the potential of the blogosphere to heighten the quality and tone of debate in this country.

As a final aside, I just want to thank Kyle for inviting me into this conversation, as well as the assistance he and the rest of the crew over at Comments have provided in getting this blog off the ground despite our at times significant ideological differences.