Mopeds and politics don't typically go hand in hand, but Erin Lahman has quite the assortment of interests. The avid outdoorswoman and PolicyMic pundit of the week divulges her thoughts on Austrian economics, the challenges of defending her beliefs, and why she wishes more of PolicyMic's thoughtful commenters would write articles from time to time.
As part of the "pundit of the week" blog, we spotlight one standout PolicyMic-er to share personal experiences with our community, and pose one never-been-asked question to a staff member.
This week's staff question is for co-founder Jake Horowitz. Check out last week's Q&A with Nate Abrams.
About Erin: Erin Lahman lives in Michigan with her boyfriend Josh, and feisty cat, Picasso. She tries to visit Lake Michigan nearly every weekend where she soaks up sun and enjoys reading books from her favorite Austrian economists.
Caira Conner (CC): First things first, when and why did you get involved with PolicyMic?
Erin Lahman (EL): In April, my boyfriend recommended that I check out PolicyMic. He had been pushing me to start writing and he thought it was a cool website layout. Before I started with PolicyMic, I had written a couple local newspaper op-eds and contributed a piece for Michigan's chapter of Campaign for Liberty, but hadn't really considered writing anything about national policy. PolicyMic offered a great opportunity to begin discussing federal issues.
CC: What are the best parts of your user experience with PolicyMic? Anything you wish were different? What might other members of PolicyMic be surprised to learn about you?
EL: PolicyMic is great because it allows for a dynamic approach to contributing content —new writers receive constructive criticism from peers. I really believe in the power of the millennial generation to effect positive policy change, and it's important to be a contributor in the dialogue.
I would like to see more of the regulator article commenters contribute content. There are quite a few people who give great analysis on policies in the comments section of published articles, and I would love to see their policy recommendations in more than 750 characters.
Something that may surprise people? I am a recovering moped junkie. For a few years, I used to ride vintage mopeds and travel around the Midwest to rallies with a moped gang.
CC: As you know, debate on PolicyMic can get pretty heated. What are your particular hot-button issues? What's the most challenging part of writing on the issues you do?
EL: I'm interested in debating the merits of Austrian economics, but I'm very outspoken about being anti-war. I feel like the United States' interventionist foreign policy is immoral and unsustainable. I want U.S. defense and counter-terrorism to be hot-button issues for every millennial, rather than being disconnected from the costs of war. I have some close friends who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and GITMO and they are also very out-spoken about being anti-war. The most challenging part of writing about anti-war issues is that there are always a few commenters who are dead-set on interventionist foreign policy and view the United States as being some sort of global police force that's going to bomb people into peace. I mean that jokingly, but It's hard for me to discuss foreign policy with someone who believes that national defense legitimately has collateral consequences of civilian casualties.
CC: What is one fantasy outcome that could result from your using PolicyMic as a platform?
EL: I actually had my recent Chelsea Manning article retweeted by Antiwar.com and it was a watershed moment for me. AntiWar is one of my favorite websites, and it really meant a lot to me. My fantasy outcome would be for my writing to be included in a magazine like The Freeman or Reason.
CC: Let's go offline. What do you like to do when you're not PolicyMic-in'?
EL: My boyfriend and I try to go on nature hikes almost every weekend. On rainy weekends, we head to the coffee shop where we spend hours reading books about philosophy, economics, and political science. Josh and I are food junkies, and we like to shop at our local food co-op and make organic, yummy food.
CC: Your turn. What's one question you have for a member of the PM staff?
EL: My question is for Jake Horowitz. I'm curious what PolicyMic has been doing to promote more viral content from libertarian-leaning pundits. It seems as though many of the recent top articles in the politics section of the website have had a libertarian-flair. Is there a concerted effort to encourage different, or particular, perspectives?
Jake Horowitz: Great question, Erin. We're definitely working hard to recruit a variety of voices across all teams, and that includes our viral team as well. As you know, the mission of our site is to be a platform for people of all backgrounds and leanings to have a space to read, discuss, and debate the news. We're interested in promoting libertarian, conservative, and liberal voices, as well as everything in between. The interesting thing about libertarians is they're really organized and have an existing community online, so it becomes easier to tap into that network and promote people who discuss the issues they're passionate about. Thanks again!
CC: Erin, thank you for sharing your insights and ideas with our platform. Always great to know more about what makes our community tick!
For more news on Erin, follow her on Twitter: @inlahmansterms