Bari Weiss opened the New Year asking her readers to tell her a bit about themselves. Exerpts:
Building Our Community - Common Sense
(BARI): Our top priority for 2022, beyond continuing to publish truth-telling, newsworthy stories you can’t get anywhere else, is . . . you. The growing community of people with common sense.
This is a community that spans all 50 states and more than 30 countries. You read this newsletter in Spain and Slovakia, Kenya and Taiwan, the Philippines and Panama. You live in cities like London and Melbourne, Tokyo and Tel Aviv, Istanbul and Accra. You are doctors and lawyers and educators and filmmakers. Mathematicians, architects, engineers, and construction workers. Social workers, warehouse workers, police, farmers and ranchers. Students and homemakers. (We know this because more than 3,500 of you filled out a survey!)
We are all here because we share some important things in common: a commitment to reason, curiosity, independence, decency, and a hunger for honest conversation.
In our world, these are increasingly precious resources. The past two years made that plain.
That used to get me down. No longer. I believe passionately in building new things with people committed to these virtues. And no project makes me more hopeful for the future than this one.
So in the spirit of the new year—for the world and for Common Sense—would you tell me a bit about yourselves? Where you are located geographically? What you do for work? And what are you most hopeful for this year?
If you’ve been here for awhile, thank you for your continued support. To any recent subscribers: welcome. It’s great to have you aboard.
(Nellie Bowles, Bari’s “wife”) For years before joining Common Sense, I was a features reporter for The New York Times. As the ideological commandments on what can and cannot be written got stronger in 2020, I was frustrated. But still I was a believer in the institution and loved my bosses, so I hung on. Meanwhile, Bar started Common Sense, and I was jealous of how much fun she was having! I’d be watching the Times Slack melt down over a Jesse Singal book review or see my colleagues work furiously to get another member of the team fired (one more cancellation of a podcast producer or a science reporter and then it will be justice at last! purity at last!), and Bar was in the next room building a whole new world. A positive world and a fun one. So I quit. And I joined Bar. And that’s how I found my way here. I could not be more grateful for this community and this chance to build something.
Forgot to add: I’m hopeful about education right now — my bet is that as things hit their max on craziness in the school system, the surge of common sense from previously quiet families is going to grow.
I am LOVING these comments.
I was a lifelong FLAMING liberal (I guess I would still be called a “Classical” Liberal).
What drove me away from progressivism?
Identity Politics - the most evil “progressive” movement since Eugenics (which was hailed by progressives of the early 20th century as “science” and anyone who opposed Eugenics was condemned as “backward” and “anti-science”.)
As a survivor of father-daughter rape, sexual exploitation, and homelessness, I always thought the “progressives” were on “my” side. WRONG!
When I became a social worker, I found out the Social Service Industry does not exist to help the poor and disabled; it exists to provide jobs for people who weren’t smart enough to get degrees in medicine or technology.
Social services do NOT exist to help people like my peers, and our interaction with social services is more likely to RE-traumatize us than it is to heal us.
As you can imagine, I got along great with administration.
So I quit social services and became a volunteer advocate for our homeless neighbors.
What I have learned is that people become temporarily homeless due to housing costs.
But they become CHRONICALLY homeless due to severe mental illness/severe addiction (the same thing really).
“Agency” seems to be the progressives’ favorite word, and it is the cruelest word in the English language.
Traumatized women selling their bodies on the street are said to be exercising their “agency” even when they suffer PTSD, addiction, and even psychosis. Progressives claim these women (and children) are “working” when they are really being repeatedly raped and psychically destroyed.
Psychotic people who scream at invisible demons are said to be exercising their “agency” when they refuse residential care and mental health treatment - as if it were “respectful” or kind to allow these totally helpless human beings to live like feral animals on the street.
Poor whites, who outnumber poor Black people by three to one, are said to be “privileged” (and implicitly blamed for their poverty) while Black professionals are said to be “oppressed” no matter how much material and social success they achieve.
After a lifetime of calling myself a progressive Democrat, I can no longer stomach the vicious cruelty of “progressives”.
The issues I care most about - ending sex trafficking by cracking down HARD on sex buyers; acknowledging the harms of violent pornography; consistently holding sex offenders and batterers CRIMINALLY accountable for their crimes and INCARCERATING the bastards for significant periods of time; treating severely mentally ill/addicted people with the same amount of compassion we offer to those with Alzheimer’s by COMPELLING THEM into safe, clean, residential care (permanently if necessary).
It’s the Right, not the Left, who line up best with the issues I care most about.
The Left claims to care about other issues I hold dear, like the right to affordable housing, yet liberal enclaves are the MOST gentrified and unaffordable.
They do offer healthcare, but without housing, access to healthcare doesn’t do much good (I’ve known people in SF who were undergoing CHEMO while living on the street. This is grossly dystopian).
Anyway, that’s how I became politically homeless.
Thank You for this newsletter.
I feel much less alone, and a little more sane.
I’m a freelance cellist in New York City. I play Broadway mostly, and I’m also a sidemen for a number of rock and jazz groups. I also play bluegrass.
I thought I was losing my mind reading the New York Times and talking to my friends in the last few years. I grew up conservative, but was persuaded to the liberal side when I came to New York for college decades ago. I thought that’s how I felt about it until recently, where my very understanding of fundamental ideas about my country and the nature of truth seemed to be challenged almost daily. I felt intellectually alone and possibly deeply misguided. But finding people like you and Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald and others really brought a measure of sanity back to my life. You gave me the courage to face the overwhelming dishonesty and gaslighting facing anyone who’s memory goes back more than a few weeks. Thank you for your work, and for using your intellect for good!
I’m a 64 year old physician who relocated to SW Florida during the worst of Covid in spring of 2020. Slept two nights in the vehicle with my wife and two boys and two dogs and a cat because motels were closed. Only allowed to travel because I was considered “essential.” Moved because of 20 Maine winters but so glad to come to a state that has tried to follow the science and have guidelines based on—-wait for it—common sense, instead of politically tinged hysteria.
Like many others writing here, I think I’ve had the same views since my early twenties, classical liberalism, and I voted Democrat for decades. But the earth has shifted beneath me and now I find myself on the center-right, and amazed at the change in the Democrats. As we know, words have power so I wish we would stop referring to leftists as “liberals” and “progressives.” I’ve made a minor hobby out of reading autobiographies of Stalin, and he would recognize his tactics and views in the antics of many on the left in America—hardly “progressive.” “Illiberal” is hard to say three times fast—I vote for “statists” and “totalitarians” as new adjectives.
As an aside, I was a newspaper reporter, and very liberal, for several years between college and medical school. I’m aghast at the degradation in standards among so many journalists. The transformation from true journalists to social justice warriors is so disheartening.
Watched all of Bari’s podcast with Ben Shapiro and agree that cowardice among people with common sense is responsible for so much of what’s happening now. Hope we can all, in whatever way possible in our situations, stand up for common sense to stop our slide into more group think and political tribalism.
Hi, all. I am a professor of psychology at Colgate University, liberal arts college in central NY. I am a clinical psychologist by training, and I study personality development and personality disorders in children, adolescents, and young adults. Although I have been left leaning ever since I started thinking about politics as a teenager, I have never fully fit in in the world of progressive politics because my views are in part shaped by my Catholic faith; Catholic social teaching doesn’t fit neatly into the goals of either party in the U.S. I have been more actively seeking out new perspectives over the past couple of years, prompted by two things: concern about the direction of academia and my own field due to woke ideology, and my younger kid’s identification as non-binary (and my resulting deep dive into the research on trans issues). My hope for the world and for the U.S. is a greater sense of our common humanity and the goals and experiences we share.
Hi All. 43yr old lesbian living in what feels like Wokstansia, USA. AKA Boston. Been liberal and democratic all my life until I woke up to the gender and trans ideology that was being pushed in our schools, on to gender non-confirming kiddos, (like I once was), which utterly broke my heart. From there I broke out of my passivity of believing only the right was broadcasting fake news and fell upon a slew of journalist and regular people doing what the MSM wasn’t, including Bari. I work in footwear and I am hopeful that more and more people are awaking from the media coma’s that they have been in for the past several years. Trying to do my part by spreading the word and work of those with a commitment to honest conversations!
Happy new year!
I wish to thank you Bari for this newsletter which has been a great weekly inspiration for me.
I am based in Kenya and work as an engineer in the power generation sector.
I am most hopeful that more people (especially in USA) will openly take a stand against wokeness and the creeping global totalitarianism that the public health policies of the COVID-19 response have exposed. Where I come from there is a saying: A bundle of sticks cannot be broken. If all people of good will who value common sense, truth and human dignity unite and refuse to be manipulated for financial and political ends by those in power, they can change the world for the better. But if we opt instead to suffer as individuals in silence, then we will all go to hell in a handbasket.
The choice before all of us should be clear and easy.
Thomas M. Gregg
Hello, Bari, and thanks for what you do. I’m a retired advertising copywriter, originally from Massachusetts, now living with my wife in NW Indiana. I also had a 28-year military career in the US Army: nine on active duty and nineteen as a drilling reservist. I’m a veteran of Vietnam and the First Gulf War, and retired with the rank of Sergeant First Class. I hold a BA and an MA in history, the latter from the University of Notre Dame, which explains why I now live in the Hoosier State.
Politically I classify myself as a conservative of the WFB, Jr. school, mIlitary service and Vietnam having estranged me from my Irish-American family’s traditional New Deal liberalism. The writer who most influenced me intellectually is George Orwell. I first read “ Animal Farm” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four” at the age of fifteen or sixteen, and they made a lasting impression. Over the years I’ve become intimate with his broader body of work, and I return to it frequently.
I heard about you via “Commentary”; I’m a subscriber to the magazine and listen to the daily podcast. After sampling “Common Sense” I decided to subscribe and have not been disappointed. It’s been interesting to learn how other people have come to conclusions I reached some time ago, and I particularly enjoy the “TGIF” feature.
What else? After retiring from advertising in 2011 I took up the craft of the short story and published my first collection (“A Cold Day in August: Thirteen Tales of Criminality Most Foul”) on Amazon last year. I also maintain a couple of websites devoted to military history and vexillology (vocabulary word of the day). All that, plus serving as my still-employed wife’s personal assistant and executive chef.
Thanks again for all you do. As Mr. Orwell said, if freedom of speech means anything at all, it means telling people what they don’t want to hear. I would just add that the Woke don’t get an exemption in that regard.
35yo new mom (to a 5 month old) living in San Francisco and working at one of the big tech companies in the valley.
Grew up in a conservative family in socal (ex-boyfriend called us “Wall Street Journal Republicans”), went Left in college (not 100% certain I voted but if I did it would have been for Obama x2). In 2016 was devastated and horrified by Trump (still am). Now, I am really, really freaked out by the progressive left and our tribalized society.
My “turn” came in the Spring of 21 when I rediscovered Bill Maher (essential viewing in these times). It was his interview with Megyn Kelly on the crazy race stuff happening in schools, coupled with the Atlanta Spa shooting and it’s instantaneous labeling as an Asian hate crime despite evidence to the contrary as well as the existence of non-Asian victims, that pushed me over the edge.
Since then, I’ve been actively removing my lefty tribal partisan jersey and am politically homeless—and it feels great! If I had not stumbled upon Bari, Bill, Andrew Sullivan, Katie Herzog, Jesse Singal, Glenn Loury, John McWhorter, Kmele Foster, Greenwald, Taibii etc etc etc, I might be lost in depression and/or seriously estranged from many friends and family. So for that, I am grateful. I am happy to be in a place where I no longer judge my maga friends/family or woke friends/family (which are just two sides of the same coin in my opinion).
My hope for 2022 is to buck up and speak up and push back on some of the crazier stuff, and maybe, just maybe convince someone to rethink their position, or even just give them the courage to speak more freely if they are scared.
Also selfishly I am hopeful Bari will interview JK Rowling this year :)
I’m a 41 year old interior, architecture and portrait photographer with a husband and two dogs living in Chicago. Later this year we will begin renting in different areas of Colorado through the end of 2023. The goal will be to determine if we should make it a permanent move and leave Chicago indefinitely. I began following your work after your first appearance on Bill Maher a few years ago. I’m a lifelong liberal but my politics began to shift slowly over the last year and half (around June 2020) for two reasons: the rationalization of mob riots and looting in response to the George Floyd protests which occurred in my own neighborhood and the hypocrisy of democratic politicizations disregarding their own Covid mandates and protocols, including Lori Lightfoot. As I sit here today, I will not be voting for any major Democratic politician again in the foreseeable future. I would sooner vote for an independent than I would a Republican.
In general it is my hope that other fellow liberals will come to their senses and stop behaving and speaking so illiberally on a range of issues. This would be ideal but the best thing I can do is hope for something that I have control over, like having more reasoned conversations with friends, family and acquaintances over issues in which we disagree. We are currently living in very ridiculous and stupid era in history. Will it get better or worse?
You are my favorite Substack Bari. Keep up the amazing work and I will continue to pass it along to people in my life.
John Henry Clark
We are mid-70, Catholic, and very active in our small Central Texas community. Our hope for our country is that the sense of community we share with all faiths and races in our small town becomes the normal attitude of all citizens. We have a shared national history that despite faults has resulted in the most magnificent nation on Earth. Acting as grateful citizens we can meet the challenges of the future and find reasonable, equitable solutions. We appreciate your work because it is honest. Honesty is the starting point for reason and equity. Honesty is the peaceful way to bridge the divide that splits our nation in two. It is the path to brotherhood. Martin Luther King once said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Our hope for the future is that we indeed learn to live together as brothers.
Happy New Year Bari to you and yours! I’m a life long Oregonian- lived in Portland 46 years. 6 years ago we moved across the bridge to SW Washington for better schools, less crime, homeless etc. I never thought I would leave our beautiful little city of Portland, but it is no longer peaceful, for all the reasons I’m sure you’ve read about. I grew up in a family that has never voted for a Republican and I followed lock step until I realized the “Democrat party left me.” Not that that matters, but my point is I see the importance of COMMONSENSE! We need a commonsense party, a pragmatic party. I’m disgusted with our vapid leaders. I look forward to reading your sub stack, thank you for standing up to ridiculousness and hypocrisy! I fell in love with you on the Megyn Kelly show and subscribed to commonsense shortly after reading your resignation letter to the Times. I’m also a member of FAIR- brilliant. So many good things are happening! I’m feeling optimistic that Americans have more in common then not, which is what’s being fed to us by all “media” types. I’m hoping the illiberalism that’s trying to tear at our freedoms (speech to name just one), freedoms that made our country, people and communities so great, steadfast and strong continues to act as an ouroboros eating it’s own tail.
I would describe myself center/right now, which makes me an outcast in my family. I’m a 53 year old woman, married 29 years to a 65 year old lifelong (except during his 20s living in Berkeley CA) Republican guy with liberal social values. We are empty nesters now and recently retired. We have two girls 1 in college, 1 working and living below the poverty line in Seattle who has been “brainwashed with communist” ideas (she has a pocket manifesto. When did this become cool?) and has become very closed minded. I tell her she’s too young to be so close minded, and cynical. I forward your commonsense articles to her…….I don’t know if she reads them, but I keep sending them ;-)
Keep it up lady!