By Erin Riley

Our wonderful Communications Director, Jonathan, has instructed us talk about anything American.  Anything American.

There’s so much to chose from.  I thought of writing about TV Shows, about books, about poetry or music.  But that really doesn’t make any sense.  What I should talk about- what I will talk about- is how I wound up here.

Granted, I’m not that interesting.  But I think the story is.  Well, perhaps interesting is a stretch.

I started following American politics a long while back.  It’s not a really remarkable introduction.  But a few years ago now, just after I started working at a certain football club that will not be named, I was starved for intellectual stimulation, really of any description, and so I started reading more about this interest I’d long held.  I liked Obama a lot, even before he announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination, so I started reading Andrew Sullivan’s blog.  Sullivan liked Obama.

I certainly wasn’t unaware of the blogsphere prior to encountering The Daily Dish.  In fact, my friend Bec and I tried (and failed) to keep a football blog.  But here blogging was something else.  It wasn’t a glorified, public diary.  It was journalism.  It was the democratization of publication.  It was a new outlet for reporting and commentary.  It removed politics from its rarefied world, and put it into a language- and medium- with which I could engage.

I had found my calling.


So I read and read and read some more.  I read articles and posts.  I discovered the glory of the RSS reader (and for those of you who haven’t yet, it’s well and truly worth the effort).  And then, through Sullivan, I discovered a new blog.

Ezra Klein.

Suffice to say, back on my home blog (plug:, which has been quiet for a while, but is back, I promise), Ezra Klein has had a fair bit of good press.  To be totally honest, I had a bit of a crush on him at the start.  (Not that you would ever have guessed that).  Now, that’s well and truly faded into a kind of admiration and appreciation for the writer who taught me a huge deal about digital journalism:  how to read about issues, how to find digital information, and how to write about politics in an immediate manner.

It’s been a year and a half since I discovered Klein’s blog.  He’s now at the Washington Post (was formerly at the American Prospect).  I started my own humble blog with grand aspirations but humble results.  But I’ve learned in the process the importance of the United States in developing digital democracy.  It truly in the centre of an emerging movement- a movement that empowers individuals.  It make the entry point for participation very low- all one needs is access to a computer, the internet, and some literacy skills.

It’s something that is bound to make democracy more robust as it develops.  I genuinely believe this development could be one of the most important in the history of representative government (read my appeal for an Australian digital political culture here).

So I wound up at uni, originally with the intention to study exactly that development.  The MA in US Studies has proved to be far, far more than that, and better than I could have expected, but it’s nice to remember, sometimes, the history.

So if you haven’t delved into the American Political Blogosphere yet, below are a few useful links:

Ezra Klein:  My favourite.  He writes an Economic and Domestic Policy blog.  He’s incredibly good on health care.  Also on one of my favourite issues, food policy.

Matthew Yglesias:  Harvard graduate.  He has written for a range of publications, including The Atlantic.  He’s kind of a generic liberal blogger, with interests in transportation policy and foreign policy.

Andrew Sullivan:  One of the first real American political bloggers.  He’s a little bit conservative, a little bit libertarian and a little bit liberal.  Occasionally histrionic, and certainly self-important, but a genuinely significant figure in journalism.

Will Wilkinson:  A libertarian, but not a contrarian, Wilkinson’s ideas are well-thought and interesting.  He poses some interesting questions for the liberal about the legitimacy of government involvement in a range of issues.

Spencer Ackerman:  The guy has attitude, but he’s awesome.  Actually, the guy has attitude AND he’s awesome.

Glenn Greenwald:  Worried that the administration isn’t respecting your consitutional rights?  Chances are that Glenn Greenwald is too.

Bloggingheads TV:  Bloggers skype each other, record it, and talk about stuff.  It’s way more interesting than it sounds.  This is my favourite episode ever.  It’s very dated, but it still makes me think.

All USSSoc blog posts reflect the opinions of the writer, and are not reflective of the views of the USSSoc.