Monday, May 18, 2015

FHQ at 8 and the Future

Back in late March, around the time Ted Cruz was announcing his presidential intentions and the Affordable Care Act was celebrating a birthday of its own, FHQ hit the eighth anniversary of its humble start. At the time I did not really want to compete with those events and then the end of the semester push intervened. Yet, for a site that revolves around and thrives on the rhythms of a presidential election cycle, an eighth birthday is not without some symbolism. That is two presidential terms of office, and that brings FHQ into a third cycle of digging into the minutiae of the presidential nomination process (among other things).

I wanted to take a moment to say a very sincere thank you to everyone: all who have read over the last eight years, those who have offered constructive criticism about the site and made it and me better, and the folks who have from time to time dropped a note of encouragement. Every bit of it has been greatly appreciated.

I don't know that I set out to create this FHQ. At its origin, the site was nothing more than a self-interested effort to gather some (probably too late) anecdotes from around the 2007 formation of the 2008 presidential primary calendar. I wanted those events to highlight various aspects of my dissertation research and figured why not share. What followed was a closely contested Democratic nomination race in which the rules like those behind the primary calendar seemed to matter. That provided enough fodder to allow FHQ to start growing.

And it did in fits and starts thereafter. If 2008 was a debut album with pretty limited success, then 2009 was a lame follow up with a bunch of filler. Seriously, go look at some of that stuff. I was still trying to find my voice as a blogger and figure out what I wanted FHQ to be. That did not come until 2011 when, thanks to the RNC and their delegate selection rules -- or penalties with minimal teeth really -- put the primary calendar and delegate allocation firmly in the 2012 spotlight. FHQ was in the right place at the right time.

There were many others, but stories from Molly Ball and Jeff Zeleny in particular really put FHQ on the map in late 2010 and into 2011. Persistent support from bloggers in the political science community like John Sides at the Monkey Cage and John Bernstein at various places before he arrived at Bloomberg View also helped to spread the word on FHQ and legitimize what I was doing here. Without those folks, far fewer people would know me as obsessive, exhaustive or an American hero (all of which the self-deprecating part of me want to dispute) in talking about mainly presidential nomination rules and their impact. Without them and others FHQ does not end up on Fresh Air or the PBS Newshour to share with a wider audience what I greatly enjoy talking about and teaching. I am grateful for those people and the opportunities I've had because of them. Thank you all.

At the end of the day, though, it all comes back to that desire mentioned above: to share with whomever cares to read or listen what I know and what I have learned about the rules of the presidential primary process and their effect in shaping the outcome of any race for a presidential nomination. Being able to share what I know about the process has always been the goal around here even if as that developed slowly and somewhat organically over the last eight years.

 Thank you all for reading.

I would be remiss if I did not also touch on the future for FHQ. The plan is not to change all that much, but external circumstances may force a change in the standard operating procedure around here. For the last five years I have been chasing something that may not exist. Following a long and messy divorce in 2009-11, I was basically left to choose between 1) being near my kids and 2) the possibility of an academic job that I had worked hard for (throughout graduate school) but may take me far away from my kids. For five years I have been able to find a certain sweet spot: temporary jobs at North Carolina institutions that have kept me close enough to my kids.

All the while, the intention has always been to find something long term -- tenure-track -- here in North Carolina. That has proven elusive. The academic job market is tough like a great many sectors of the economy these days, but tougher when you make the choice -- no matter how noble -- to constrain yourself geographically to a particular area in order to be a part of your kids' lives. Overall, though, I am dependent on there actually being jobs, both long-term and temporary. And sometimes there are not any of either.

That is the case for me now as my contract at Appalachian State runs out. This year brings an uncertainty that breaks with the status quo of the past few years and has me contemplating shuttering FHQ to pursue other opportunities. The sentiment would have been unthinkable to me not that long ago and is tough to type now. But I owe it to FHQ readers, both loyal and casual, to be candid about my situation and this site. Matters are different enough for me in 2015 that I have to be open to doing things in [a] way(s) that I did not think I would.

My plan is not to shut FHQ down at the moment (or any time in the future to be perfectly honest). Right now, I've got work on a book project ahead of me; a book that I would prefer to get out and share with people some time in 2016. But I am now more open to other possibilities; campaigns, media, think tanks, etc. than I have ever been. I have to be. If you are in any of those categories or others and would like to talk to me about how my expertise fits into what you are doing in preparation for the 2016 elections drop me a line by clicking on the "Contact" link in the upper right sidebar.

Thanks for reading, y'all.

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1 comment:

Ian said...

I just wanted to say, thanks Josh, for sharing your expertise on a complicated subject in a clear and helpful form. It's been great to read your site over these years.