Congratulations on nearly surviving another year. Have a safe New Years’ Eve tonight, ideally watching the Twilight Zone marathon rather than navigating dangerous roads after a poisonous party.
Tomorrow, 2023 begins. It’s looking like a year where Joe Biden will try to stay President until he’s eighty freaking six while Republicans brace for a Trump-DeSantis civil war, when allies of each candidate will argue the other guy should really step aside for the good of the party.
But before we get there, I’d like to first renew one of my oldest gimmicks and list the most-read Presidential Politics For America posts of the last 12 months. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!
First, we’ll start with the least read posts. Amazingly, five of the six least read posts all had to do with the same thing: my short-lived and abominable podcast that lasted 23 episodes before I took it behind the barn and shot it. The numbers make clear there wasn’t much interest in listening to me read my columns, and in this case I couldn’t more agree with the wisdom of the crowd. My words aren’t easily consumed in any medium, but it’s clear that reading them on the page (or, rather, on the screen) is far more palatable than listening to them.
Who Will Be the Next Senate Pro Tem? (And Other Fun Senate Pro Tem Questions) (October 17): This post actually wasn’t anywhere near the top ten, but it was probably the most fun I had writing a post all year, so I think it can be honorably mentioned. There, I did it.
Democrats 2024: An Unranked Top Ten (November 30): One month ago I gave my first quasi-power ranking of the 2024 Democratic Primary. Of course, the post only becomes relevant if Biden doesn’t run, a scenario I and most voters hope is the case, though it looks like we’ll be disappointed. This post snuck into the top 15 of 2022.
It’s Not Just about January 6 (June 12): This piece was both important and short, two adjectives my posts rarely pull off separately, to say nothing of at the same time. Readers seemed to agree and made it my 13th most read post of the year.
Critical Race Theory, Part III: Should CRT Be Taught In Our Schools? (June 6): Unsurprisingly, the topic of CRT in our schools drew some attention. As a teacher, blogger, and follower of politics, I felt like I lived smack dab in the center of a triple Venn Diagram, so I shared my thoughts on the subject. It became my 11th most read post of the year.
But no one creates top 11 lists. We’re a base 10 society. So now it’s time for…
The Ten Most Read PPFA Posts of 2022
10. Peter the Great, Hitler the Mad, & Putin the Terrible (March 14): I honestly forgot I wrote this. That’s how much I write. Anyway, this piece drew some comparisons between Putin, who had just ordered an invasion of Ukraine that went super well, and two earlier European tyrants that seemed to inspire him.
9. First Roe, Next Obergefell? (May 9): I noted earlier than I thought my post about January 6 was “important,” or at least as important as any post a barely-read amateur blogger can write. This post might be the only other one here that rivaled its importance. What they have in common was an attempt to explain why this matters. In this case, the Roberts Court, in Dobbs v. Jackson, had signaled that unenumerated rights previously identified by federal courts as protected by substantive due process have become more fragile, and that the right to a same-sex marriage, as established by Obergefell v. Hodges, is nearly as vulnerable as the right to an abortion once recognized by Roe v. Wade. Since members of Congress are devout readers of Presidential Politics For America, they have since taken action to pass legislation protecting same-sex marriage before opponents used Dobbs as a basis to challenge Obergefell.
8. Abortion (February 28): Do I know how to title a post or don’t I?
7. PPFA Does CRT, Part I: What IS Critical Race Theory? (May 23): In my introduction to CRT, I compared Tucker Carlson to Karl Marx and no one came away happy.
6. Future Top 30 Addition: Elon Musk (January 24): In January, I wrote about Musk’s potential to one day be included in a future edition of my “30 Most Influential Figures” book (original edition available at Amazon!). This choice was not without dissenters because 11 months ago, despite the great progress spearheaded by Musk, he was seen as a relatively controversial boss and public persona. It’s great to see that he has since put that divisiveness completely behind him.
While we’re here, and since I’ve been asked, I have not at all backed down from the claims made in that piece. He’s still the driving force behind several critically important technological movements, and I generally agree with his Twitter mission. The platform is at its best when it’s a fairly run, open marketplace of ideas. Only speech that is against the law should be barred on Twitter. For example, if someone capped off months of a multi-step plan to undermine our faith in elections by scheduling and ginning up a big rally, telling it to fight, then points that rally, including its armed personnel, toward the direction of the Capitol building, which leads to breaking and entering, vandalism, looting, assault, injuries, and death, all in the hopes of keeping political power by blocking the results of an election certified by the states, I would call that against the law, at least according to the standard set in Brandenburg v. Ohio to say nothing of other norms of democratic nations.
Of course, that was all just hypothetical.
5. Welcome to 2022. I Have Some Thoughts (January 3): It makes sense that my first post of the year would land in the top five. After all, it had the most time to accrue page views, and I know that I linked to it plenty of times in my coverage of the midterms.
By the way, in that year-opening post I noted that 2022 is the year George Jetson, from the documentary The Jetsons, was slated to be born. With just hours left in the year, somewhere out there is baby George, a future resident of Orbit City’s Skypad Apartments.
4. Nine Takeaways on the Dobbs v. Jackson Leak (May 3): PPFA readers love when I respond to breaking news. If only it weren’t so rare. I have, believe it or not, a real job. They pay me and everything.
But that week was unique. The day of the leak was May 2, which coincided with the day of my students’ AP Government and Politics exam, which they take with official personnel, not me. That gave me time to just hang out that day and the next, which is a day for all of us to reflect and relax. It was the perfect storm — a big breaking new event combined with me having time to write about it and little grading or teaching to get in the way.
3. Midterms 2022: The Day After (November 9): Speaking of breaking news, everyone wanted PPFA’s day-after analysis of the midterms! And by everyone I mean very few people.
2. What Was Happening in History the Last Time Each Planet Was In Its Current Position? (February 4… 2019?!): Weird, right? Last month, I was scrolling Twitter, and somewhere between a random conservative comparing Joe Biden to Stalin and a random liberal comparing Elon Musk to Hitler, I saw a cool tweet from Amazing Maps about how “All of U.S. history has occurred within a single Pluto orbit.”
The tweet reminded me of a fun PPFA post from 2019 where I found historical events that had occurred the last time each planet (and other solar system bodies) was in its current position. So I replied to the cool Amazing Maps tweet with a link to my post and it got 900 engagements, which is rarified air for yours truly because, and I can’t emphasize this enough, no one but my children and students should care what I have to say. The resulting clicks were enough to rank this quirky 2019 post as my second most-read piece of 2022.
But it wasn’t enough to pass #1…
1. The Presidential Line of Succession (2022) (April 4): On this very special day, I imagined what would happen if most of our federal leadership were incapacitated. For some reason, people seemed really jazzed by the idea.
What’s weird is that in the month of April alone, it was my most popular post but not dramatically so. Its strong 2022 numbers come from its staying power. There were a couple times later in the year when it popped in readership. After not being read much in May, it had nearly twice as many June readers than it had back in April. In July, it had nearly four times more readers. Weird right? And it wasn’t even that I was getting extra traffic from a facebook or Twitter share. These were seemingly spontaneous, either coming from google searches or email referrals.
What’s even weirder is that there was one link in that piece that was clicked on more than all other links combined. It was the link for the Wikipedia page of Patrick Leahy, who, as Senate Pro Tem, was third in the line of succession. And it wasn’t as if clicks on links gradually fell as we went lower in the line of succession, nor was Leahy particularly obscure compared to other names on the list, either of which would explain these extra clicks. The link to Leahy was clicked nearly four times more than the link to the second most clicked link, and in fact it became and remains PPFA’s most clicked external link of 2022. There was clearly a particular interest in Leahy as the third in line for the presidency.
Almost as if a group was planning to eliminate the unpopular trio in front of him — President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Speaker-of-the-House-for-three-more-days Nancy Pelosi — and wanted to see if Leahy was satisfactory.
Upon seeing these developments and determining their significance, I posted on facebook that I was considering contacting the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security, but then I realized, “Who am I kidding, they monitor all our social media anyway. This is enough.” And obviously it was, because whatever plot was getting planned has since been foiled. You’re welcome. (Or, if you’re a radical conservative insurrectionist… I’m sorry?)
Happy New Year, PPFA readers!