What is Backbencher?
Politics, economics, regulation, income inequality, the American gerontocracy, and a smattering of culture.
I’m a former labor policy editor at Politico; former "TRB from Washington" columnist, New Republic; former "Chatterbox" columnist, Slate; former Wall Street Journal reporter; and author of The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It (Bloomsbury, 2012).
I will post here periodically on a variety of topics related to U.S. domestic politics and policy, and occasionally on other matters as well. I may also post material from other writers from time to time.
Backbencher is very much an experiment, in a spirit similar to that of the Chatterbox column that I wrote for a decade at Slate and the online columns I wrote for a few years after that for The New Republic (where I continue to contribute weekly) and MSNBC. For an archive of more Timothy Noah pieces than any normal human could want, click here (recent stuff) and here (older stuff going all the way back to the 1980s).
My past work was sufficiently varied in subject matter that I never established an identifiable “brand,” which is frowned upon. But I think journalists who talk about their “brand” as if they were a laundry detergent or floor wax do violence to writerly values of independent inquiry, critical thinking, wit, self-awareness, and craft, not to mention the more broadly shared responsibility to be human. Should I accidentally create a brand in Backbencher I will have to judge this venture, and perhaps my entire life, a failure.
(And don’t get me started on the word “icon.”)
The photograph above is of Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s mural, “The Effects of Bad Government In The City,” a 14th century fresco panel in Siena’s Palazzo Pubblico.