OMG! What have they done?

Not promoted from the diaries by anybody because we’ve promoted Aaron to the front page. Yes, yes, I know “My God, what hath thou wrought?” I’m asking myself the same thing. — Erick

Come, sit by the campfire while I tell you a story.

September 2000 I left the U.S. Army confident that Al Gore would be the next President of the United States of America. The next year passed quickly as I scrambled to find my place in civilian life. On Sept. 11th I was driving to work and heard the news. Thus began a fixation on current events that I have yet to shake.

The next spring I quit my job and took a contract in Kosovo as a Systems Administrator. I spent roughly two years living and working in Kosovo. In between trouble tickets, I diligently clicked refresh on Drudgereport, which I had only recently discovered. Once I returned to U.S. soil I began to notice that the country had changed while I was away. Drudge, despite his best efforts, had failed to clue me in to the degree of animosity that was bubbling up from the fairly new fever swamps we are now all so familiar with.

I was a foreigner in my own land.

At first I just kept my head down, not wanting to cause a scene. But as time went on I never really adjusted. I felt alone.

I decided I would leave again, this time for Iraq. En route to Iraq, Providence saw fit to allow me to reconnect with the love of my life, whom I would call my wife less than a year later. But Good is not the only force in this world, Evil also stalks through our earthly realm. While walking home from a party one of my closest cousins was violently struck down by a Neo-Nazi ex-con, abruptly ending his life.

The instinct to reconnect and recommit to a life of Family and Community took hold, and shortly after I left Iraq for good and came home. Upon arriving back in the States I proposed, and quickly married my wife, Beth. My life had changed for the better, but in ways I still felt lost.

By this time I had found Politico.com and had started battling it out in the comments with the riff-raff that seemed to congregate there. It was primary season and I was scoping the field, eventually settling on Fred Thompson as my pick.

The message boards of Fred’s site led me to RedState two years ago. At last, I felt a glimmer of hope that I had found where I belong.

Beth and I started our family, and I dove into the world of RedState. I read everything I could, and wrote when I felt compelled. The 2008 election proved to be an utter disappointment, even if completely predictable considering the choices made by the McCain campaign(save Palin).

I knew then that merely writing about events would not suffice, but what could *I* do?

The answer should be apparent to anyone who has read RedState for any significant period of time. Expand your activism into your offline life.

The first step was to attend a Tea Party; the next to attend a State/County/Town Committee meeting.

Even that, as worthwhile as it is, is not enough.

To affect real change in our nation, to instill true principles to our party, to avoid waking up to find out that your local party just selected a KOS ENDORSED, ACORN APPROVED DEMOCRAT, as the Republican Candidate you must become a voting member of the party. I did.

And who knows, maybe two years from now it will be YOU telling the story of your evolution as an activist on the most read Conservative/Republican blog in the nation. I did … and am.

Aaron B. Gardner