Political and Social Commentaries
Underlying Philosophy

Michael J. O’Neil, PhD

I have been involved with and actively followed political and social developments all my life. While my “day job”, reflected in the remainder of this site, has involved the dispassionate analyses of many such trends, I regard following and influencing political events as my true passion. Some people are avid participants in sports, dancing, or theatre; I live and breathe politics and public policy.

As one outgrowth of this passion, I have been involved as a television analyst for every significant election since 1980. In that capacity I was regularly called on to comment on a wide variety of political events in a wide variety of local media. Other observations have been published or broadcast in such national media as the Wall Street Journal, Nightline, ABC Nightly News, USA Today, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, the Washington Post Weekly Magazine, and National Public Radio.

But over time I came to see my participation in all of these as constrained by my role as an “analyst”. As an analyst, I was called on to interpret motives and explain trends, but always felt the need to subordinate my own personal opinions about whatever I was commenting on.

Since the summer of 2006, I have had the opportunity to expand this role. As a commentator for ABC 15 News, I have had the freedom to draw on what I have learned by observing trends and behaviors and offer my own take on events.

This body of work is distinct from the analytical reports presented elsewhere. Those are dispassionate analyses of data. These commentaries reflect the views of an involved and interested citizen, not just an analyst. While I can and do separate out facts and opinions in my day job as a public opinion analyst, here I have the luxury of unleashing my thought process on an unsuspecting public.

I take this responsibility seriously. My aim is to apply what I have learned over the years to current issues. In doing so, I am painfully aware of the unnecessary polarization which has infected our politics. My goal is NOT to simply reiterate any of a number of well-known positions on a contemporary issue. Restating a well-known argument makes the proponents of that side feel good, but alienates the other side and does nothing to advance a creative solution. Wherever possible, my goal has been to enlighten a “third way” alternative, propose a creative compromise that may appeal to the underlying values of both sides, or enlighten an aspect of the problem not previously considered. The goal—constructive solutions—is usually elusive, but worth striving towards.

And, of course, if these commentaries do nothing more than stimulate thought and discussion, they will have served a useful purpose. For we have far too little reflective thought and too much reflexive action in our public policy.