“I think Jane’s success in a prior career has made her immune to the rewards of access — and fear of punishment — which keep most younger inside-the-Beltway progressives obediently in line,” he said. “She’s not 26 years old and desperate to work for a DC think tank, a Democratic politician or a progressive institution. She doesn’t care in the slightest which powerful people dislike her, but rather sees that reaction as vindication for what she’s doing.”
Matt Yglesias objects to this because he’s 28 years old and works for a DC think tank. Fair enough. But the bigger problem with this quote, I think, is that it misapprehends the incentive structure at work in political activism. Implicitly, the idea here is that Jane sits outside that structure completely, but that’s really not true. Just as beltway types have incentives that generally lead them to compromise in a centrist direction, base activists have incentives that push them in exactly the opposite direction. They can get ostracized for being too accomodating exactly the same way that think tank folks can get ostracized for being too shrill.
In any case, I really think temperament drives most of this stuff in the first place. After all, I’m in pretty much the same situation as Jane. Maybe more so, in fact, since I live 3,000 miles away from DC and rarely even socialize with other bloggers. And yet, obviously, I have a pretty moderate, accommodating blogging style. But that’s more because of who I am than because of who I work for.
Anyway, I generally like both the activists and the beltway types and figure they have symbiotic roles in the political ecosphere. So more power to both of them as long as they’re roughly on my side. How’s that for accommodating?