There has a been a lot of commentary here at Redstate, especially in the “Comments” sections, about the integrity or level of discourse of this site. Some of it revolves around the musings of some that things changed when Erick Erickson left the site to start “The Resurgent.”
I have been kicking around here at Redstate officially since 2010 according to my profile. In reality and for whatever reason, the real starting date was 2008. I say “for whatever reason” because the original account was deleted although I suspect my technological ineptitude had something to do with it. The main reason for joining this community was that the discourse was civil and informed. We had and still have a variety of conservative voices.
When originally joining in 2008, the reason was my worries about Barack Obama as President. I did not believe the conspiratorial tones of some editorials such as his alleged birth in Kenya, the lack of a birth certificate, his grades at Columbia or Harvard or anything like that. Instead, it was ideological. I researched Obama and found him either a stealth socialist or blank slate upon which socialists would write. I do not think I was wrong in that assessment either way. I could have joined any other online “right of center” website at that time, but I chose Redstate because it seemed the most reasonable.
Hence, I have been at Redstate now through three presidential election cycles. There has always been disagreements regarding the Republican candidate. I remember many an article that were against John McCain or Mitt Romney- some written by me if I remember correctly.
What makes 2016 so different and so extraordinary to some is the bizarre nature of the campaign that year…and its aftermath. What spurs the commentary today is that so many long-time writers and contributors at Redstate had staked out their preferred candidates and very few, if any (me included) involved Donald Trump.
My first choice lost and pulled out early. My second choice lost and pulled out later. My third choice lost and many here were hoping against hope. The mere fact I had three choices better than Trump should bolster hopes for the future if we can get through the present.
Further, besides the number and quality of alternate choices, was the breakdown in discourse during the campaign. In that respect, people here at Redstate who perceive a decline in the level of discourse may simply be seeing a reflection of a breakdown in civil discourse in general. Unlike Berkeley, California I view Redstate as a free and open forum for the exchange of ideas and civil discussion of disagreements.
Comments such as “then don’t read their entries” serves no purpose lest Redstate become a series of mini-echo chambers which does not further the level of discourse. On some occasions, I have been “warned” by moderators and even called a troll although how someone who has written over 1,700 diary entries and made over 1,000 comments and counting can be considered a “troll” is confusing. It is when it gets into outlandish conspiracy theory that the discussion should be shut down. A funny aside: one contributing editor to this site once called my kids “retarded” because I disagreed with them regarding something about immigration policy. Today, I think we are in agreement on most things.
Those who have written comments that “at one time, Redstate…” are off the mark. There have always been disagreements and vehement defenses and indictments of political leaders from across the political ideology spectrum. In many ways, the election of Donald Trump has amplified these disagreements like no one in the past. Opposition to John McCain or Mitt Romney pale in comparison when mentioning Trump. But that is because Trump is perhaps the most polarizing political figure to emerge in many years. Thus, the commentary here is simply a reflection of the polarization at large.
Interestingly, the only other political blog where I add my two-cents is- believe it or not- DailyKos. I often go there for two reasons: (1) some of their statistical data on elections is timely and informative, and (2) I like to see what the nut cakes on the other side are saying. I let them know that I am both a registered Republican and a conservative. Surprisingly, I have not had too many negative experiences in “debate” with people at that website. There are rabid, crazy people there just as there are some rabid, crazy people here. It is the nature of social media and political blogs.
But just as there is strong debate here at Redstate, there is strong debate and feelings on the other side. I do not think Redstate has changed all that much other than the commentary being a little more stringent and the slow creep of conspiratorial thought and language in some cases.
There are some here who would rather leave or stop commenting as if they are beaten down dogs. That is not what free speech and standing on principle is about. It is typical of the Left- not us on the Right- to say, “If you don’t like it, don’t read it.” It is typical of those on the Left- not the Right- to shut down debate with ad hominem comments. It is typical of the Left- not the Right- to walk away from rational debate. It is typical of the Left- not the Right- not to seek common middle ground. It is the Left- not the Right- that thrives on polarization and incendiary commentary.
Let’s not become the Alternet of the Right and the Berkeley of political blogs and commentary. In my estimation- and I have visited virtually all of them from alt-right to libertarian pot smokers to neoconservative sites- Redstate is still the cream of the crop.