The Year in Wonkitude

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Ezra Klein and the Wonkblog crew handed out their second annual Wonky awards today, “where we recognize outstanding achievements — and spectacular disasters — in policy wonkery.” It’s a surprisingly good list! By that, of course, I mean that I mostly agree with their picks, which is the way that most of us define “good,” right?

But I do have one big nit to pick: Grover Norquist as Wonk of the Year. Not because Norquist isn’t important. He obviously is. Not because he isn’t smart. And not because tax fights don’t deserve to be highlighted. I’m perplexed because Norquist isn’t a wonk. He’s got one simple message that he’s been hammering away at for decades: taxes should be as low as possible. That’s it. No speeches, no white papers, no Greek letter economics. Just an exercise of raw power in the service of low taxes. That makes him a player, but it doesn’t make him a wonk.

That aside, it’s a pretty interesting list. It’s worth a read.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest