Among other things, Robert Taylor is a California resident, sometimes musician, and PolicyMic's influential pundit of the week.
As part of the "pundit of the week" blog, we spotlight one exceptional PolicyMic-er to share personal experiences with our community, and pose one never-been-asked question to a staff member. This week's question is for co-founder Jake Horowitz. (It's a good one!)
Check out last week's Q&A with Mayura Iyer!
About Robert: Robert is a libertarian writer and activist, political junkie, and longtime PolicyMic pundit with a love of baseball, billiards, and bourbon.
Caira Conner (CC): First things first, tell us about when and why you decided to join PolicyMic.
Robert Taylor (RT): I started writing for PolicyMic in early 2011 when it was just a beta site. Fellow contributor Chrissy Harbin sent me an email about this news site that some people she knew started, and it was going to focus on millennial writers and issues. I had been writing and blogging for a few years already, but thought this might be the perfect opportunity to speak directly to millennials on a platform that was geared to us as well. As it turns out, that was a great decision, and I recommend reading and writing for PolicyMic to anyone interested!
CC: You're a great example of an opinionated millennial using PolicyMic as a platform to debate and challenge peers on the issues you're most passionate about. What are your hot-button issues? What are the advantages to having PolicyMic as your platform to speak out on these subjects? Any disadvantages?
RT: The most important issues for me are war, peace, and the dangers that aggressive foreign policy pose both to American liberty and international security. As the great classical liberal Randolph Bourne put it, "War is the health of the state." This also trickles down into economics and civil liberties since war distorts the free market and is always the biggest excuse to expand state power, encroach liberties, torture, suppress speech and dissent.
I pretty much use any excuse or current event I can to preach the libertarian message and get people asking questions rather than proposing solutions backed up by government force. There is so much change I wish to see but until the U.S. empire is dismantled, I believe war and foreign policy are the most important issues and I can't help but speak out.
The reason PolicyMic makes such a great platform is because it features a diverse array of opinions from fantastic writers all across the globe on nearly every issue imaginable. Plus, we get to debate, ally, rival, and mic each other. What's better than competition and debate? I see PolicyMic articles all over the web as well, and even some of my rants occasionally get spread around and shared.
It's a double-edged sword though. Sometimes it can be frustrating when your article gets buried during the day, but that's only because there is so much content and writers like me eager to have their voices heard.
CC: If you could change one thing about your user experience with PolicyMic, what would it be?
RT: Sometimes the comment streams can be a little hard to follow, though it's definitely gotten a lot better. Also, I spend a lot of my time reading news and blogs on my phone, and the mobile site does not do the layout and content of PolicyMic justice.
CC: Fantasy outcome of your having used PolicyMic as your platform?
RT: That's a great question. I would have to say that ever since I can remember I have wanted to write about what I perceive as grave injustices, finding peaceful alternatives to our problems, and be someone who people go to when they have questions about these issues. I read about people like Anthony Gregory, Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Hornberger, Sheldon Richman and so many others out there today that inspire me to write and become active, and I would love to have the opportunity to influence others in the same way. Part of it is admitted selfishness (who doesn't want to be a famous writer?) but it's also a love and passion for libertarianism and seeing these ideas spread as widely as possible.
Unfortunately, one doesn't move up the journalistic ladder telling media conglomerates and government officials how corrupt, damaging and unnecessary they are!
Thanks to the PolicyMic platform, I am starting to achieve my personal goals in a far bigger manner than I could have ever dreamed of. I am able to reach a huge audience with virtually no censorship of my work. It feels great to be rewarded for sticking to your principles. If I can get people to learn economics, read Rothbard, Hazlitt, and Mises, and help conserve Western liberalism for the future, then that's really all that matters to me.
CC: Let's go offline. What do you like to do when you're not PolicyMic-in'?
RT: Well, if you combine working for a small delivery company in San Francisco with PolicyMic-in' and a general obsession with politics, I don't have much free time. But I love being busy, it keeps me sane. In my free time I do play a lot of pick-up basketball, pool (preferably with the Replacements on the jukebox), and soak in the beautiful scenery of the Bay Area. I play (poorly) in a band with a couple of very talented friends and I am blessed in general to have so many great friends in the area, watch and listen to a ton of baseball, write back-and-forth with my pen pal, read voraciously, and go to concerts and shows. And there is really nothing better than good whiskey and good conversation, both of which I have had plenty.
I think I have a unique experience among millennials. My mom was born in Mexico, came to the U.S., learned English and continues to give me love, faith, support and life lessons. My dad was born during World War II and I am so lucky to have that unique experience of an older father who definitely instilled a traditional, conservative demeanor and romanticism in life. He gave me a love of baseball and politics at a very early age, so I have him to thank for my obsessions. Without them, I doubt I would be anywhere near the man I am today. I also have a younger brother who was my best friend growing up and still is to this day.
CC: Your turn. What's one question you have for a member of our staff?
RT: My question is for Jake Horowitz. I see some of the great photos of the office and the camaraderie, but I have always been curious about how often the staff fights and has conflicts over politics or storyboarding? How do these inevitable conflicts work themselves out so the site can run and flourish as it does?
Jake Horowitz: Great question, Robert! For the most part, we don't fight. That's probably hard to believe since we come from such different backgrounds and political perspectives, but we've worked hard to assemble a team that has individual expertise in different areas, and we trust each other to own those areas inside and out. So, while Chris Miles will frequently ping culture editor Elena with insightful ideas about the latest video game or movie trend we should be covering, he also trusts Elena to know the culture calendar inside and out, and plan exciting stories based on it.
Don't get me wrong, we've had political fights in the office. I can still remember an epic debate that Chris Altchek and I had over drones back when PolicyMic first got going, and Mike Luciano was frequently entangled in debates about Obama's legacy with Chris Miles during the election.
Really, debate is such a part of our site that we embrace this kind of diverse opinion and try to channel it into even more exciting story ideas. As we get bigger, we're started to hold more short editorial meetings to make sure we're all on the same page for covering events as well.
Final thing to say is that camaraderie truly does exist! We're all good friends and have lots of fun outside of work together, which helps to make it a special crew of people to be around.
CC: Robert, thank you for your thoughtful insight. We love having you in the PolicyMic community!
For more news on Robert, follow him on Twitter: @Westernerd