My road to journalism has been a winding one.
In college, I fell in love with philosophy and naturally gravitated towards politics. Never entirely sure of what I wanted to do, I ended up in graduate school studying political theory. I can’t say my aim was to teach. I just loved reading the great books and kept doing it as long as someone was willing to pay me for it!
My focus as a scholar was ideology. This had always fascinated me, but it wasn’t until I encountered the work of Camus and Nietzsche that I thought of ideology as something much deeper and personal. Why do we attach ourselves to these grand stories about History and Justice? What needs do they fulfill at the level of the individual? And how do our “ideas” about reality become more important than reality itself? These are the kinds of questions I tried to answer and if you’re into this kind of thing (and of course you are) you can read my dissertation here.
Anywho, I finished graduate school in 2014 and quickly discovered that the academic job market was a complete and utter hellscape, especially for political theorists. The two years I spent on the market were among the most soul-crushing of my life, though I loved teaching more than I ever imagined. My students were amazing and I miss them dearly. But after a couple plodding years on the market, I decided to branch out and try my luck elsewhere.
I started blogging, mostly about politics and philosophy, and somehow ended up freelancing for various digital outlets like Salon and Slate. After 6 months or so, Salon offered me a full-time staff gig and thus began my official journalism career. Since August 2016, I’ve been a writer at Vox. In addition to writing essays and long-form interviews, I’m now the co-host of the Vox Conversations podcast. I have a forthcoming book with University of Chicago Press (co-authored with Zac Gershberg) called The Paradox of Democracy. It’s set to publish in early 2022 and you should totally buy it!