Who We Are Part II: Rad Crats on Education

What became incredibly evident to a lot of people after Donald Trump's election was the fact that expertise, from academia to journalism, is not trusted by a significant portion of the public. However, we have to recognize that this is not a new phenomenon. Anti-intellectualism is a snake oil that the forces of conservatism have peddled for decades. The election of an orange oaf into the Oval Office is a culmination of that long campaign to ultimately convince people to vote against their own rational self-interest.

However, turning the tide against this is no easy feat. It's become obvious that simply presenting good data and clear findings is insufficient at convincing the public (if it were, supply-side economics would have gone the way of flat-earth theory years ago). Not only are well-researched journal articles on policy remarkably inaccessible to most people (if you have trouble sleeping, just read a policy research paper in bed; works every time), but most people intake news and information via filters that reinforce the beliefs they already hold.

The crucial challenge is presenting information to people in a way that is clear, accessible, and most importantly, honest. But in confronting this challenge, all is not lost. Since the election, major news publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post have seen substantial increases in subscriptions. There is an appetite among a lot of people for quality information that is presented with integrity.

We believe we can contribute to that discourse in a productive way. It starts, as I mentioned previously, with being honest. One problem, we argue, is the obsession that exists over "objectivity." Raise your hand if you sincerely believe that Fox News is "Fair and Balanced." I thought not. Data and information is never truly objective. This is not to say that there aren't objective facts or truths. However, even the same statistic can serve wildly different agendas based on the way they are presented.

Instead, we the Radical Bureaucrats confront this reality head on by being upfront and honest about our biases. We're open about the agenda that we're trying to advance: we believe in enacting policies that serve the interest of the many, the underprivileged, and the most vulnerable. If you fundamentally disagree with that, then there's probably nothing we can say to you that would be convincing anyway.

But if that notion isn't completely antithetical to your worldview, then we have the basis for a conversation. And hopefully, by presenting well-researched, sound data that we have access to as policy wonks in a way that is clear, accessible and not condescending, we just might be able to convince people that striving for a more progressive society is better for all of us.

Who We Are Part I: Radical Bureaucrats on Advocacy

As we prepare for the formal launch of the Radical Bureaucrats website and podcast, we thought it would be a good idea to use the first few Rad Rants to explain who we are in more detail than what is offered in our About section. These posts will help explain our core tenets, broken down by our three core activities: advocacy, education and mobilization.

Advocacy is a great place to start this conversation because it helps us frame our overall ideology as a group. Let's address the elephant in the room: we're sure a lot of people are puzzled by our intentional decision to associate with the term "bureaucrat." And it's easy to understand why: bureaucrats conjure images of pencil-pushing workers at the DMV who treat everyone with cold, robotic indifference.

However, it's important to recognize that those government employees are the people responsible for your driver's license. Similarly, through the public affairs masters program that we all took part in, we have come to realize that bureaucrats across a variety of public institutions do the crucial work of ensuring that those very institutions operate as effectively as they can to fulfill their mandate.

We understand that governments and public institutions are large, complex and cumbersome apparatuses, nonetheless, they ensure our safety and seek to promote our prosperity in a number of ways, from guarding our national security, to putting people to work during economic downturns. Thus, those of us that are committed to public service seek to reclaim the term and absolve it of its pejorative shroud.

Working backwards, why do we choose to identify as "radical?" Traditionally, it was viewed that bureaucrats and public sector workers ought to act as neutral implementers of government policy. However, we argue that there is no inherent objectivity or neutrality to how bureaucrats utilize their discretion to implement the nuts-and-bolts of policy. These decisions are instead informed by the personal experiences, perspectives and biases of the bureaucrats in question. This is a pretty wide departure of the standard definition of what a bureaucrat should be, and thus we would argue, radical.

With that in mind, our intention is to be explicit and transparent with regards to the perspectives that we believe should inform the creation and implementation of public policies. We sincerely believe that the policies we seek to enact embody the values of progressivism, and are designed to serve the interests of the many, and not the few. However, we realize that not everyone may agree with our values, interests or strategies. Nonetheless, our transparency allows disagreement to be open, honest and perhaps even constructive as we engage in continued dialogue with alternative perspectives, while being clear on where we draw the line on the issues that matter to us.