I really don’t remember just how I came upon RedState in April of 2006. It was a smaller and quieter place back then and after a few weeks I “knew” pretty much everyone who posted with any regularity, even the lefties who were tolerated and a troll or two that seemed to be kept around for entertainment. The fact that it was a moderated site without the viciousness and obscenity of so many other sites was very attractive. Though I can do vicious and obscene with the best of them, I’d really prefer not to most of the time. But mostly I was attracted by the level of intellectual endeavor in the diaries and the incisiveness of the posts; you’d best be on point or save your keystrokes and your ego by saying nothing.
I was bored and disgusted in those days. I was still working for the Murkowski Administration and had done my job of making sure all the State’s unions were quietly under contract and wouldn’t be much of a factor in the upcoming general election. Retirement had been very much on my mind since 120 days service in a calendar year gives you credit for that year. I got all my labor agreements approved by the Legislature without even a hint of debate or controversy and I really didn’t have much to do. I could assume the coveted role of ROAD Staff – Retired On Active Duty – and let my ambitious subordinates do my job for awhile.
The wheels had completely come off the Administration and it was pretty clear that Murkowski wasn’t likely to even survive the Primary and if he did was a sitting duck in the General. My direct supervisor, a Deputy Commissioner, left about that time to go work for a Primary opponent of Murkowski and that sent a shudder through the appointee ranks. I called him and let him know that I was still dancing with who brung me but if he needed anything, he could feel free to call me. Somewhere in there Sarah Palin piled into the Governor’s race as well. So, it was evident that to get 120 days in 2007, I was going to have to become friends with John Binckley or Sarah Palin or make peace with the Democrat, Tony Knowles. Of course, making peace with Knowles, who I’d worked for before but not as an appointee, would mean giving up the appointed job and I didn’t have much interest in going back to doing the line work. So, I was struggling with picking somebody to back, sitting it out on the assumption that whomever won wouldn’t fire me or at worst I’d be back in the classified service, or just pulling the pin and going fishing.
The picking someone to back was the toughest. I didn’t want to be disloyal to Murkowski but I didn’t feel any obligation to go down with the ship; I hadn’t done anything to cause his troubles. I liked Binckley, but his campaign just seemed unable to get any traction. My sense of Sarah Palin was that she was a lightweight being propped up by the Democrats and the Daily News because they thought she’d be easier for Knowles, the Democrat annointee, to beat and I didn’t like her for how she’d left the Administration and played “kiss and tell” with the Daily News. I frankly thought that Knowles was going to be Governor again and I would have to either go back to being a classified employee or retire during the transistion. There wasn’t much sense in waiting to get fired by Knowles other than to make a few more bucks before I had to take the demotion or retire. And to make it more interesting, my boss’s slot was open and you never know who’ll wind up in a political appointment in the waning days of an administration; usually it is somebody who really, really, really shouldn’t have the job but wants it on their resume and has some chit or another they can call in. I knew I didn’t want it, but I sure wasn’t anxious to have to break in a new boss either. Turned out they put a former subordinate of mine in it for reasons that had little or nothing to do with her managerial talents and much to do with her other talents and that made the decision really easy for me. I was already disgusted with the Administration and when I looked down the hall at the Commissioner’s Office, I didn’t see anyone for whom I had the slightest bit of professional or personal respect. That’s a good time to quit! Somewhere in those early days here I wrote a diary reporting on the first Republican gubernatorial debate and I wasn’t too flattering to Sarah Palin; that got me a bunch of love from her buddies here in Alaska and sort of set the path of our dealings.
I came to RedState as I was going through a big transition in my life. For twenty years my identity had been inseperable from my job. I really didn’t have any idea who I was without that job. I’d been through all the levels of it from the production employee doing grievance responses and routine hearings, to the tactician in bargaining and the specialist in high-stakes arbitrations and labor board hearings, to finally being the one who pretty much set the State’s policy in its dealings with its employees. I still answered to the Commissioner and the Governor technically but not much really. And in April of 2006 when I first came to RedState, I was beginning to seriously think of giving it all up; color me conflicted. Ultimately, I made the decision in mid-June, gave my notice, and went on with my life, actually discovering that I had one without having that job. Along the way being here for a part of almost every day has just become a part of my routine.
The people of RedState exhibit some of the best social and political thinking and writing available anywhere. The opinion here is generally better than in the magazine and newspaper linked blogs because few here are campaigning for something or trying to be noticied or curry favor as is so often the obvious case in other places. I certainly don’t always agree with all the opinion here, but I know that in almost every instance it is honestly formed and expressed opinion. Along the way I’ve been involved in and generated perhaps more than my fair share of controversy, but I’ve also had perhaps more than my fair share of kind words, complimentary comments, and diary recommendations. I can’t say I’ve much enjoyed the last four years politically, but I have certainly enjoyed sharing the politics of those four years with the people here. Hopefully on my fifth anniversary here we can be talking about how the new Republican majority is doing in one or both bodies of Congress and on my seventh anniversary we can be evaluating how the new Republican President is doing in his, or maybe even her, first four months. It has been an honor and a privilege to be among the good folk of RedState for the last four years and I appreciate the kindness of your sharing yourselves.