Back when I first began the transition into the managing editor role in 2015, everyone in the business of conservative punditry was still struggling to come to terms with how to deal with Donald Trump. He was capturing the imagination of a lot of the people who read blogs and listen to talk radio, and writing positive things about him was sure to get you a ton of clicks. In a business where money is directly correlated with clicks, that meant a lot.
On the other hand, of course, there was the fact that Trump was obviously not conservative. He was on the record as an avid, extreme pro-choicer before announcing a clearly-calculated and obviously-fake conversion to the pro-life cause in 2012. Many conservatives rationalized this by saying that Romney’s conversion to becoming a pro-lifer was not really much more convincing. But moreover, his ideas on trade were nonsense, he clearly had no ideological moorings of any kind, and he was poorly educated on even the basic issues facing America.
Many people believed that Trump was not a serious threat to win the nomination. If I am being perfectly honest, I was among those people, having vastly overestimated the Republican primary electorate. But still the question presented itself, “what to do about Trump in the meantime?”
A lot of people decided for strategic reasons to treat Trump and his supporters kindly and with legitimacy for business reasons. To me, that was never a serious consideration. I made a decision right away that I would never say anything I did not honestly think just for clicks. And I’ll be honest with you, a huge part of that decision is that I was fortunate to have a good law degree and a solid career to fall back on if things had not worked out here at RedState. I don’t claim any sort of bravery; I had a luxury many in this business do not have: I never had to make a serious decision that involved either compromising my principles or keeping food on my family’s table.
Perhaps contrary to what many might have expected, this website has experienced tremendous, unprecedented growth since that time. We have more than tripled our traffic from last year and more than doubled our traffic from 2012. But that is not a story about me. It is a story about you, the people who read this site and the other contributors who write for this site every day. It is a story about people who have refused to cave to immense peer pressure and political bullying and accept that the tangerine-faced fraud running for President is a man deserving of any thinking American’s vote.
Thank you all for making this the most professionally rewarding year of my life. Thank you for proving to me that a market still exists for actual conservative ideas, as contrasted to the blind Republican Party fandom. Thank you for proving that there are still people who believe in limited government, increased personal freedom, free market capitalism, and genuine devotion to the pro-life cause.
Today will sadly be my last day here at RedState as I move on to The Blaze next week. After more than 11 years on the front page, it feels more like I’m leaving family than I am changing jobs. But I know in my heart that the site is in the right hands with Caleb taking over, and that you good people will be here will still be here reading and writing diaries and posting comments and sometimes sending hilarious hate mail to the contact form.
As I leave, I can only encourage you all to remain strong. Resist the call to let other people do your thinking for you. Continue to use your own brain and your own reasoning power to evaluate whether either of these candidates or neither deserves your vote. Don’t worry about the end result – the last year here at RedState has been living proof for me that if you stick by your principles, more often than not, the rest will take care of itself. And always remember, you don’t owe anyone your vote. They have to earn it.
Make them do it – this election and every election in the future.
Take care and God bless.