Originally posted on September 15, 2009.
Since I created this website, I’ve been asked on several occasions what the term ‘policy wonk’ that is on my header means. Admittedly, it’s an insiders term, used mainly by those who work for governments organizations and the odd NGO. However, the official term, ‘policy analyst‚’ is pretty dry and boring as a way to describe how I’ve spent over a decade of my life, so I decided to reclaim ‘wonk’ from the silos of bureaucracy and wear it with pride.
Basically a wonk is to public policy what a nerd is to math and a geek is to computers. For those looking for a more detailed definition, check out description below that I found online.
I have attempted to write my own description, but nothing I have written could match the bang-on description than the folks at policywonk.com have come up with. If I have learned nothing else as a wonk, it’s that, when possible, borrow, and borrow liberally. So read on, and by the end you should have a better idea of what makes me tick (albeit with funkier eyeglasses than they typcial wonk).
Policy Wonks are kinda hard to explain. However, you know one when you hear one. Above all else, Policy Wonks are smart… really smart. And they like to talk and listen, but mostly to debate. They’re the ones who seem to enjoy pontificating endlessly on subjects that most people are more than happy to know that someone else cares about. Policy Wonks often ruin a perfectly good party or football game with a discussion of the trade deficit, agricultural subsidies, or welfare reform. And once they get going, they have an annoying habit of throwing around arguments, statistics and examples that leave the uninitiated feeling, well… dumb.