Matt Bai is a political reporter and staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, Bai graduated from Tufts in 1990 and received a Masters from the Columbia School of Journalism in 1994. Bai began his reporting career at the Boston Globe's metro desk; he spent five years as a national correspondent for Newsweek before coming to the Times in 2002. Bai has covered all sorts of national news: everything from the Columbine shootings to John Glenn's last space voyage to Mike Bloomberg's mayoral campaign. In recent years, Bai has focused primarily on intra-Democratic Party politics. He is the author of The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, an analysis of the progressive movement. Bai's work has also appeared in both the 2005 and 2006 editions of The Best American Political Writing. Matt covered the 2008 presidential race for the New York Times Magazine.
Matt Bai: I’m pretty optimistic. You know I’m generally that way. I’m not . . . I’m not really an optimist by nature. I sweat out every game where the Yankees have a lead because I’m sure they’re gonna blow it in the eighth inning. So I can’t call myself a sunny, optimistic person. But when it comes to sort of the direction of the world and the country, I’m not cynical about that. I’m very optimistic about it. I mean I think the social, technological changes are gonna empower people in ways we haven’t imagined. And you know I mentioned this issue of people working at home. I think this is a really big deal. Before the industrial . . . the onset of the industrial age in the 20th century, people didn’t go to work. They worked . . . they lived above their store, or they farmed, and they were with their families. And they had like a really great quality of life if they were, you know . . . if they could sustain themselves. It wasn’t perfect, but you know I think we’re gonna enter a different era of what it means to work in America, what it means to live here. I don’t think people need to get in cars and spend hours of their time polluting the environment away from their families. Or sit around, you know, in a sterile office and hope that their boss doesn’t pop his head in; you know or the office joker doesn’t take up too much of their time, right? I mean I think . . . I think we’re gonna have a period in, you know, the next several decades where Americans can get much greater control over their lives; and much greater flexibility; and structure it the way they want; and feel like their work has value beyond, you know, having to dress up and show face time; but to feel like they’re respected individuals who can go run an errand if they need to, but who can also get their work done; who can put on jeans and come to work in their . . . in the morning if they want to. And I think that’s gonna be a great life for a lot of people, and I’m waiting for a government that gets it.
Recorded on: 12/13/07