2011 Feedback: Reflections of a Rational Republican

As 2012 approaches, it is time to reflect on what has worked and what hasn’t on this blog. I have plenty of data and statistics that helps me assess which posts were popular and which were not well-received. That said, there are many “unknown unknowns” about ways I can improve Reflections of a Rational Republican. With that in mind, I would greatly appreciate your feedback about this blog. More specifically, please focus your qualitative feedback along the following dimensions:

  1. Strengths: What aspects of this site did you like? Which articles did you enjoy the most? What things did I do well?
  2. Weaknesses: What areas of this site do you think I could improve? Which articles did you least enjoy? What things should I stop doing entirely?
  3. Recommendations: What sorts of articles would you like to see more of in 2012? How can I make this site more entertaining and engaging?
  4. Branding: What three words would you use to describe Reflections of a Rational Republican to a friend? What is the single most important reason you come to this site? Would you recommend it to a friend? Why or why not?

Please keep your commentary constructive and civil. Thank you in advance for your help.

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About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Conservative clean energy crusader, national security hawk, financial analyst, engineer, and former military officer.
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11 Responses to 2011 Feedback: Reflections of a Rational Republican

  1. joe says:

    Strengths: What aspects of this site did you like? Which articles did you enjoy the most? What things did I do well?
    I enjoy the site the most when you have a clear point to make that does not obviously fit in the paradigm of one party or the other. Republicans have gotten extremely good at controlling and repeating their message through various means (talking points, television, radio, floor of the house/senate, etc.), and while a part of me admires this solidarity, it makes me feel like it’s near impossible to get the perspective of a single conservative thinker sometimes (This is why I also read David Brooks, George Will, and Greg Mankiw). I enjoy the site the most when it presents issues with a perspective and points that differ from what the Republican party representatives are all repeating to the media. You do a great job of replying to comments, please don’t discontinue that.

    Weaknesses: What areas of this site do you think I could improve? Which articles did you least enjoy? What things should I stop doing entirely?
    As above, the last thing I need in my life is another bullhorn for the Republican party message. I least enjoyed the articles with the most partisan angle, for example, the one you submitted to that other site that lambasted Obama for spending a lot of money on his birthday party. This complaint has been made by every pundit since the beginning of punditry and adds no value.

    Recommendations: What sorts of articles would you like to see more of in 2012? How can I make this site more entertaining and engaging?
    I don’t understand why you have so few articles on energy policy. Isn’t that what your book is going to be about? Also, you seem to avoid the topic when it turns especially political. Why, for example, did you not post a single time on the Republicans’ resistance to ending subsidies for oil companies back during the debt ceiling debate? I also don’t know why you don’t chime in on certain other issues like the debt ceiling debate or the current payroll tax cut debate. Do you agree or disagree with Scott Brown? Do you believe tax cuts pay for themselves or not? I know the party lines on this, but what does a rational republican have to say? The site would be more entertaining and engaging if you committed yourself to being consistently rational rather than consistently republican. Of course, I think the single best aspect of the site is that it is about you and your opinions. I like knowing about your sci-fi writing contest. I would stop reading if I felt you were chiming in on things just because you thought you should, or because you wanted to be controversial. This is what George Will and others have to do because they get paid for it and have deadlines and such. I don’t need another George Will, so if you really don’t have opinions on the matters, then don’t write about them. Sometimes I just wonder if you are trying to avoid controversy or something. Why else wouldn’t you have a post or two about the most dominating political issues of the day?

    Branding: What three words would you use to describe Reflections of a Rational Republican to a friend? What is the single most important reason you come to this site? Would you recommend it to a friend? Why or why not?
    Well written, interesting, helpful. I need to believe that republicans have valid perspectives on issues and aren’t out to screw the country just so they can have the white house. This blog helps me along that goal. I would recommend it to a friend because I feel like the site is even handed enough of the time and because you do a great job or replying to comments and engaging your audience.

    Cheers and Merry Christmas! -Joe

    • Joe,

      Thank you do much for the commentary. Very, very helpful.

      I agree with your points on sometimes avoiding the most important issues of the day. Sometimes I really struggle when the Republican Party is doing something really stupid and inconsistent (I.e., opposing the payroll tax cut extension), when everyone else in the media is already blasting them for it. I also thought about doing a post on just how bad the current crop of Republican candidates are.

      I guess I am still struggling a bit with the type of audience I am seeking to attract, and when things get way too “political” I probably do tend to shy away from the controversy. I will try to do a better job addressing this blind spot going forward.

      I appreciate your comments as well on posting about other aspects of my life. I am always worried about alienating people on topics that aren’t directly related to the blog main topic. Thank you for the feedback on this area.

      On energy, I didn’t post on the oil subsidies because I didn’t feel I had spent the time doing enough research for me to develop a suitably informed opinion on it. While my gut tells me they are a bad thing, this site strives to be about thoughtful opinions, not gut-driven decision-making. I simply don’t know why the subsidies exist, what they are used for, and whether removing them would raise fuel prices – though I suspect they would. The bottom line is my opinion on the matter is still evolving, so I wasn’t comfortable taking a stand on the issue – though you a very right to suggest I should. Though I agree that I need to post more energy topics. I haven’t done so for several months.

      Thank you so much for your feedback, and I appreciated your comments over the past year, even when we disagreed. I plan to take your feedback to heart.

      Happy holidays!

  2. samuelprime says:

    I’m a recent visitor so am not qualified to answer or give feedback on your questions. But I do have a couple thoughts for what they’re worth.

    I bet you’re hardly alone when it comes to how you feel about the current Republican crop. A far cry from the days of Ronald Reagan when we were solidly united. That is one reason I fear that Obama will be re-elected — his approval rating increased since September from 43% to 49% today according to a recent #CNN poll. Further, the same poll shows more Americans unsympathetic to the Republicans — seeing them as the more obstructive. I’m a Republican (mostly anyway), but I acknowledge these outcomes.

    About your blog, I think it’s a heck of a lot better than mine! My view is to basically do what is in your heart and mind. It’s a place for you and about what interests you. I.e., let the people who like it be determined by who and what your interests are (instead of the other way around). Maybe that’s my losing strategy but I’m quite comfortable with it! 🙂 Have a Merry Christmas.

    • Thanks, Samuel!

      I am frustrated too, by the Republican crop as well. I am actually at work on a post about exactly what you describe — only it has a bit of a wild twist suited toward my uniquely weird personality. It will either go viral or people will shake their heads saying, “What the hell was this guy thinking?”

      Have a Merry Christmas!

  3. samuelprime says:

    I look forward to reading it, Sean.

  4. Hi Sean,

    You live up to the site’s moniker. I appreciate that the site criticizes both Republican AND Democrat dumb moves and yet still adheres to the financial principles that R’s should be adhering to as well, all the while avoiding the hyperbole.

    Overall, i find most Republicans that I know to be rational and ones to use data to support their opinions, so it’s great to see a site that reflects that.

  5. Scott Erb says:

    I enjoy your blog. The strengths are that you have a good range of topics and you are very courteous in your responses to comments, and take what your commentators say seriously, which shows respect. You also bring in your expertise and background in a way that is both enlightening and engaging.

    Weaknesses: I’m not turned off by the partisan posts, though I often disagree with them (like the one about Obama recently). I think that shows who you are — a rational Republican, not a rational Independent. Sometimes I’d like longer posts and more of your speculation and reaction, but overall it’s a strong blog.

    Recommendations: Keep doing what you’re doing, post on whatever moves you, and continue to stake out your territory as a rational Republican. That is a strong brand!

    • Thanks for the feedback Scott. I greatly appreciate it.

      Regarding longer posts, my wife (who’s been blogging since 2007) has stressed that I should aim for blog posts that are no longer than 750 words. If they are any longer, I’m supposed to break them up — most people just don’t have the time and/or attention spans to read more. Her advice in this field has served me well thus far, so I’m going to continue to defer to her in this area. Though, that doesn’t mean I won’t squeak out the occasional 750+ word post. My writing instincts are much like yours, Scott. I tend to write long pieces, but my commercial instincts force me to trim and break up the longer articles into multiple posts. Many of my seven-part series started as a single piece, and then they just got too long – WAY TOO LONG.

      Thank you for continuing to support this blog for as long as you have. I also appreciate your using it with your class. I am happy it has been useful for others in making sense of our chaotic and complex world!

      Happy Holidays!

  6. efgd says:

    Hi Sean – Happy New Year to you, when it comes 🙂

    As a Brit I find your posts informative and thought provoking. Covering the scene in the US as you do gives me a glimpse of the other side of the pond as they say.

    I love the fact you are, to me it seems at least, honest and forthright, something sadly missing in British politics, with the Green Party (in Parliament) and Libertarian Party (way outside parliament) leaders being the exception; yeah I know, go figure. I guess you have the same problems with the politico dudes of both Democrat and Republican flavours.

    No weaknesses, I just want more, but understand the nature of too many words in blogging. Do keep us posted of when your book is out. Will it be available in the UK?

    The only suggestion I have is to keep up the good work and thanks for being there for us to read and interact with.

    • “I love the fact you are, to me it seems at least, honest and forthright, something sadly missing in British politics, with the Green Party (in Parliament) and Libertarian Party (way outside parliament) leaders being the exception; yeah I know, go figure. I guess you have the same problems with the politico dudes of both Democrat and Republican flavours.”

      I think honesty is completely lacking in politics. Period.

      “No weaknesses, I just want more, but understand the nature of too many words in blogging. Do keep us posted of when your book is out. Will it be available in the UK?

      The only suggestion I have is to keep up the good work and thanks for being there for us to read and interact with.”

      Thanks, efgd!

      I have an agent for the book, but do not yet have a publisher. In fact, my agent plans to start shopping it around to the big six publishing houses once I have a stronger platform (i.e., many more followers, page hits, speaking engagements, etc.). The publishing industry is in such a rut today that the big houses will only take a shot on new authors if they have an established audience. Hence this blog.

      A little cart before the horse if you asked me, but it’s just the way it is…

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