I remember the early discussions about this site. They were contentious, if generally friendly. Were we to be constantly updating with all sorts of news, in the style of Breitbart? Were we to present a handful of headlining essays per week and then hope people would jump in with supplementals, in the style of RedState? We settled somewhere in between. Lenny wrote occasional essays and did television reviews amidst yeoman’s work with images. Steve put up his essay list on what the foundational principles of the country were and posted commentaries about where the government had gone off the rails while keeping the site updated and running. Tiff posted daily news bites and kept track of Trump’s tweets. Beth put up daily news bites and scoured the news sites for daily updates that she’d post as a note compilation, mostly to cover the stuff nobody else did. Me? I just kind of hung around as a catch-all, dropping in essays and news and features as appropriate.
The one thing we were all in agreement upon was that we didn’t want the site to devolve into simply an anti-Trump site. We wanted it to thrive and be around when Trump was gone. Another thing we all agreed upon was that we wanted to have differing points of view, actively discussing issues. We all voiced doubts about whether we could get Trumpers or Berners making reasonable arguments, but that was the intent and hope.
I believe that experiment has failed. I don’t know who, if anyone, remembers anything about Steve’s essays, but for the most part the points he makes in them are being widely ignored. As far as differing views sparking lively debate… I see it very, very rarely. For the most part, the traffic we hoped to see is here, but it’s not debate and it’s rarely anything but anti-Trump. Not even the jokes are present, very often.
I don’t think I’d mind if all of the attacks on Trump were accurate, but they aren’t. He’s an absolute terror of a President, but that was to be part of the value of this place: to differentiate between the valid attacks and those which were invalid. That concern seems to have been abandoned. While many do not participate in the irrational or unproven attacks, a great many do, and there is rarely pushback against them. The mob has spoken.
I started posting the “question of the night” early into the Night Owl (which was Lenny’s idea). The reason for it was not for information harvesting, but to spark conversation and develop a sense of community. That community has formed, but over recent months the focus has shifted to joint hatred, not an embrace of principle or even lively debate.
One of the things about this site that I have loved is the constant posting of relevant information. Gux and Halo and Don have been especially helpful to me in that regard, directing me to offenses and incidents of which I would otherwise have been unaware. But opinions aren’t the same as information, and that’s what I often see flooding the site: catty and hateful comments posted from elsewhere as if our purpose was nothing more than a strainer for Twitter, clearing out all of the ancillary commentary into a targeted gripe about Trump.
Not that Trump doesn’t deserve criticism. He displays that every day through his tweets, and he’s going to put it out for the world to see again this week, starting tonight with a self-arranged cult-a-thon which bypasses the experts who are traditionally tasked with presenting a carefully cultivated infomercial for their candidate. The man is deranged and a clear danger to the continued operation of the country.
But this site isn’t about him… or, at least, it wasn’t supposed to be, and we warned extensively against it becoming about him. It absolutely wasn’t supposed to be anti-Republican, because we recognized there were many day-to-day Republicans, and some in office and prominence, who were pushing back against Trumpism… and even more who wanted to be part of a party without paying too much attention to what that party actually did. Attacking the group as a whole wasn’t just counterproductive, it was fundamentally dishonest. So we didn’t do that, and we tried to cover things other than Trump.
He’s made that difficult, because his idiocy and corruption is rampant and he demands all of the political oxygen, every day.
Steve still keeps the site running. Beth still posts the news notes every day but her news items have reverted to one per week seeking uplifting news… and that item typically pulls about ten responses. Tiff is still doing heavy carrying. Others, like Richard and before him Halo and more, have helped immensely by stepping into roles as regulars. Me? I’m still generally keeping to schedule, but I find myself asking, ever more often… why?
What is the purpose of this site? What do people want it to be?
I understand the argument for setting aside principle for a little while as we focus on achieving a goal… but that’s the same argument that many Republicans who have enabled Trump have made, and I have been rejecting it for years. Do we accept it nonetheless, despite the inherent contradiction? And are we to simply be reflexively anti-Trump and anti-Republican, to embrace the slide away from our moorings?
I don’t want that. I want a return to conservative principles. I’m going to keep fighting for that. I just want to know whether the copious amounts of time I spend here are working toward that purpose, because it seems asinine to continue if not. I’d like to have some indication if “Why are we here?” remains similar to “Why am I here?”. In recent months I’ve been suspecting those two might have different answers.