Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Inaugural post

I have created this blog because I think it will be the best way to chronicle and preserve my experiences at the Democratic National Convention. I was lucky enough to have been elected by my fellow Democrats in Colorado's 1st congressional district as an Obama-pledged delegate to the convention. As it happens, party nominations are one of my main areas of study as a political scientist, so this is a pretty rare opportunity for me.

I fully recognize that there are challenges to studying a phenomenon while being a part of it. Larry Bartels is probably at the extreme end of this measure of concern -- word has it that he refuses to vote because he thinks it's improper for him to influence, even in a small way, his field of study. Other political scientists aren't quite so doctrinaire -- Daron Shaw and John Petrocik are quite up front about their occasional work for political candidates but also manage to do top notch scholarly analysis. The risk, of course, is that you end up seriously affecting what you're allegedly studying, as Jane Goodall may have done when she fed Gombe chimpanzees and possibly started a war between them. Or, one could become like "Buckaroo Banzai's" Emilio Lizardo (whose face graces the top of this blog as a reminder to me), who used himself as a subject in an experiment and eventually became a bipolar genocidal maniac.

I have no doubt that it's harder to do unbiased scholarship if you have a dog in the race. You have to constantly check yourself for bias. On the other hand, Jonas Salk probably wanted his vaccine to work before he discovered that it did. Many American scientists doing work for the government during WWII did excellent work but were also motivated by a desire to see their country win and to keep their findings/atomic power/the Ark of the Covenant from falling into the hands of the Nazis.

Great, now I've compared myself to Jonas Salk, Robert Oppenheimer, and Indiana Jones. I'm just going to a freakin' convention.

Anyway, my intent in maintaining this blog is to provide all of you with lots of accounts, pictures, and analysis that you might not get from just watching the convention on TV. I still need a Blackberry or an iPhone to help me do that, but I'm working on that. Meanwhile, feel free to submit comments or suggestions for anything I can do to improve this blog.

1 comment:

Christina Sadowski said...

Way to go Seth - who would've thought when you went to join the Clinton campaign all those years ago that you'd be on the floor of the convention for the first African American presidential candidate!! From your biggest Australian fan, Christina