After 6 or so years as Editor-in-Chief at FPR, Mark Mitchell has decided to take a well-deserved rest from his labors. He has been, in our short history, the indispensable person. Under Mark’s leadership FPR has emerged as a distinctive voice in American culture and politics. He has successfully brooked the partisan and ideological divides that define our contemporary politics and formed a website whose content is not easily pigeon-holed but is nonetheless coherent and, usually, interesting. He has brought together a coterie of diverse writers and given them the freedom to think and to grow, and provided them with opportunities to develop a unique kind of community, as was exemplified at last week’s conference. I’ve been enriched professionally by my association with FPR, but even more so personally, and I have Mark to thank.

Knowing Mark as I do, his gentle leadership and his work ethic, I accepted the post with trepidation, knowing, in Eliot’s words, that “one cannot hope to emulate – but there is no competition.” All of us who have been involved with FPR and, I think, the culture in general, are grateful to Mark for what he has done with this website. I am humbled by the confidence the board has shown in me and pledge to honor that confidence accordingly. I do so with no small amount of nervousness. I feel a little like Lorin Maazel taking over the Cleveland Orchestra from George Szell: It’s going to be really hard to make it better, but really easy to make it worse. I hope I will be judged more kindly when my tenure is done. (One writer referred to Maazel as having “tarnished Szell’s gleaming instrument.”) I suspect a few regular readers out there slapped their foreheads in dismay when they saw to whom Mark had passed the baton. I hope to win their confidence as well.

As a conservative, I’m not particularly inclined to innovation. I suspect that over time FPR may look slightly different, a variation on an original theme, but I hope to preserve the integrity and thoughtfulness always displayed here, as well as the bedrock commitments to place, limits, and liberty.

I do have a few ideas for changes in site content that I’ll be rolling out gradually. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you, the readers, concerning what you’d like to see at FPR. Please use the comments section below or send your thoughts to so that we can continue FPR’s maturation.

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Jeffrey Polet
Jeffrey Polet grew up in an immigrant household in the immigrant town of Holland MI. After twenty years of academic wandering he returned to Holland and now teaches political science at Hope College, where he also grudgingly serves as chair of the department, having unsuccessfully evaded all requests. In the interim, he continues to nurture quirky beliefs: Division III basketball is both athletically and morally superior to Division I; the Hope/Calvin rivalry is the greatest in sports; the lecture is still the best form of classroom instruction; never buy a car with less than 100,000 miles on it; putts will still lip out in heaven; bears are the incarnation of evil; Athens actually has something to do with Jerusalem; and Tombstone is a cinematic classic. His academic work has mirrored his peripatetic career. Originally trained at the Catholic University of America in German philosophy and hermeneutical theory, he has since gravitated to American Political Thought. He still occasionally writes about European thinkers such as Michel Foucault or the great Max Weber, but mostly is interested in the relationship between theological reflection and political formation in the American context. In the process of working on a book on John Marshall for The Johns Hopkins University Press, he became more sensitive to the ways in which centralized decision-making undid local communities and autonomy. He has also written on figures such as William James and the unjustly neglected Swedish novelist Paer Lagerkvist. A knee injury and arthritis eliminated daily basketball playing, and he now spends his excess energy annoying his saintly wife and their three children, two of whom are off to college. Expressions of sympathy for the one who remains can be posted in the comments section. He doesn’t care too much for movies, but thinks opera is indeed the Gesamtkuntswerk, that the music of Gustav Mahler is as close as human beings get to expressing the ineffable, that God listens to Mozart in his spare time, and that Bach is history’s greatest genius.


  1. Jeff, as a former Clevelander who has visited Severance Hall since the days of George Szell through the Dohnanyi years, you indeed have big shoes to fill. Thanks for taking on this task. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks for taking this on, and have been meaning to write my appreciation for Professor Mitchell’s work. My thanks to him, and I hope he continues to post.

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