About Terry Michael and This Site

Terry Michael (biography) is director of the Washington Center for Politics and Journalism and its program to teach college journalists about politics: The Politics & Journalism Semester -- information about which can be obtained at:
http://www.wcpj.org
Michael founded the program in 1988, after a career that included three years as a newspaper reporter and 17 as a press secretary.

He was a press spokesman for the lIlinois House Democrats from 1973-74; for the late Sen. Paul Simon, during Simon's first five years in the U.S. House; for the late Cong. Bob Matsui, from 1981-83; and for the Democratic National Committee, where he worked from 1983-87. He ended his career as a political operative in 1988, serving as communications director for Simon's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. He was founder, in 1977, and first president of the Assn. of House Democratic Press Assistants.

From left liberal to libertarian...
"My first entry into politics was in 1956, when I wore a Stevenson button in the 4th grade," Michael explains. "I was a 9-year-old political junkie, riding to the polls with my mother and grandmother, who were paid $10 by our precinct captain to drive neighbors to vote -- Democratic, of course. My political awareness dates back to a time when our campaigns were shifting from a mostly party-based to -- with the arrival of TV -- a predominately candidate-centered, media driven politics."

Michael handed out Kennedy brochures on his newspaper route in 1960 (irritating his Baptist neighbors in a small Southern Illinois town) and started a Johnson-Humphrey student group as a senior in high school (irritating himself later, as he began to despise Johnson for the Vietnam War.)  He founded a chapter of Young Democrats while in community college and then a Students for Robert Kennedy group at the Univ. of Illinois, where he worked for the student paper and served in the student senate (conflicted from an early age between wanting a career in journalism and one in politics.)

"I was a traditional 'complete the New Deal,' programmatic, wealth re-distributive, and identity politics left-liberal, from my teenage years in the Sixties until my work at the DNC in the Eighties," he explains.

"But after I started The Politics & Journalism Semester program -- a non-profit, but very much like starting a business -- my politics began evolving. I was reading and listening (to speakers at seminars for my students) outside the Democratic box - considering all shades of political opinion, as I escaped from the life of a partisan Beltway operative. Actually, my philosophic transformation started while I was at the DNC, and saw how we Democrats were increasingly losing touch with our middle and working class voting base, giving them an appearance of being interested only in a short-list of 'minority' identity groups."

"Government: out of my bank account and my bedroom,
away from my body, and out of the backyards of the rest of the world"

"Somewhere in the 1990's, I began drifting toward a libertarian political philosophy, summarized in my version (above) of the traditional libertarian exhortation: 'out of the board room and the bedroom.'

"The political issues that interest me most are reflected in the topics featured in the list of navigation links on the right side of this page: the neo-conservatives' outrageous elective war in Iraq; the Democratic Party's failure to define a political philosophy that moves beyond reactionary left-liberalism; the Republican Party's failure to divorce itself from its radical social conservative, politicized religious right wing, and its abandonment of fiscal responsibility; the socially divisive and ethically bankrupt practitioners of identity politics, who promote race consciousness and a corrupt spoils system known euphemistically as 'affirmative action;' the failures of our system for electing presidents, and the paucity of presidential leadership that results; the even greater failures of the legislative branch of the federal government, where 'congressional leadership,' with a few exceptions, is an oxymoron; the massive assault on free political speech known preposterously as campaign finance 'reform;' and the neo-prohibitionist, mass social insanity called the 'War on Drugs."

Journalism and other media criticism
Also on this site will be frequent criticism and analysis of the role of traditional journalism and non-journalistic media forms, particularly as they fail to adequately live up to the over-arching purpose of the First Amendment free press guarantee -- to educate citizens for their civic responsibilities.

Detailed biographical information about Terry Michael, as a "pdf" file

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