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Why "The Decembrist"?

  • The Decembrists were Russian liberals in the early 19th Century, whose botched attempt to overthrow Tsar Alexander I resulted in their exile to Siberia. Although most of them were aristocrats, and escaped execution only by virtue of their birth, they built new lives in the isolated villages of their exile. I liked the sense of liberalism thriving in dark times, and because I had just read Orland Figes' account of the Decembrists in Natasha's Dance, his recent history of Russian culture. Although I'm interested in Russia, I'm not expert and there's not likely to be anything here about that country. Also, there's a pretty good, slightly pretentious, band called The Decembrists, but if you're looking for fellow fans, unfortunately, we won't have anything about them either.


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One-Line Bio

Articles, archives, links and sometimes original posts from the corner where politics and policy meet


I'm a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, where I work on issues of political reform, tax and budget policy, and helped to create our new project on The Next Social Contract. I also write a monthly column for The American Prospect, and contribute to the Prospect's blog, TAPPED, to TPMCafe, the New Republic, and the Guardian.

Previously, I was Director of Policy and Research at the Open Society Institute, George Soros's foundation in New York. I ran a program at OSI that made grants to organizations working on campaign finance reform, and on trying to build progressive political power in the states.

In the 1990s, I worked in Washington, as a speechwriter and then policy director to Senator Bill Bradley until he left the Senate in 1997.

I know a lot about recent U.S. political history, and I've written a lot about reform of the political process. These days I'm particularly interested in economic policy in the role that ideas play in U.S. politics, and the development of a coherent public philosophy among liberals and Democrats.

After seven fun years in Brooklyn, I now live in Washington again, with my wife Holly, a journalist, and our daughter who is six and a half.