I’m not great at goodbyes, having little experience with them, but the time has come for one, and I have a major announcement to make: I am leaving RedState after 13 years here (12 of them as a front-page Contributor) and moving my online writing to National Review.
It’s a great opportunity to write regularly for the historic flagship of the conservative movement. Yet the print and online conservative fleet today is much more than a lone vessel standing athwart history, yelling stop. RedState, WSJ/OpinionJournal, the Weekly Standard, the Federalist, the Washington Free Beacon, the Washington Examiner, the Resurgent, HotAir, the Blaze, the Daily Caller, the Conservative Review…different publications have different niches, but all are part of the same larger project, and all will be called upon to clean up the wreckage of the conservative movement after the Trump tornado finishes blowing through. It is a mark of how far RedState has come since its founding in 2004 that the site deserves mention alongside the top tier of destinations for conservative opinion, reporting and activism.
I will miss this place, its writers and its readers. I started here as a diarist in the summer of 2004, in the fifth year of my blogging career and the first of the site’s existence, after The Command Post (a war-oriented site) shuttered its doors as we transitioned, maybe inevitably, from a nation united against its enemies back to a nation of political tribes united against each other. In the fall of 2005, at the insistence of Leon Wolf, I was promoted to a front-page Contributor on the strength of my writings questioning Harriet Miers – a preview, though I did not expect it at the time, of where this site’s posture towards blind party loyalty stands today.
In the intervening decade-plus, I’ve been privileged to work side by side with some fantastically impressive people, and watch as our little website helped change the face of the Republican Party, mostly by bringing in voices from outside the orbit of the Beltway (albeit, in my case, from New York City). We – meaning mostly others besides me – helped launch the careers of many major national political figures, including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley, Rand Paul, and Ben Sasse. And as I leave, I can reflect on how many of our alumni have gone on to bigger and better things:
- Erick Erickson, of course, joined the site near its inception and went on to become its public face and voice before moving on last year to his own site, The Resurgent, having outgrown the job of running this place. Along the way, Erick became one of the nation’s top metro-area talk radio hosts at Atlanta’s WSB, a major power broker in GOP circles, a TV commentator on CNN and Fox and sometime guest host for Rush Limbaugh, and an elected member of the Macon City Council.
- Ben Domenech, one of our site’s founders, now publishes The Federalist and the popular Transom newsletter, and is a fixture as a pundit on national cable TV.
- Hunter Baker, maybe the most decent and even-tempered of all our many Contributors over the years, has carved out a distinguished career as a professor, university administrator, writer on religious liberty, and now a candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 8th District.
- Victoria Coates left us to assist Don Rumsfeld in assembling the massive historical archive supporting his memoirs, and has gone on to be a foreign policy adviser to Rick Perry’s presidential campaign and the chief foreign policy adviser to Ted Cruz in the Senate and his presidential campaign, as well as authoring a recent book in her chosen field (as an academic art historian) on democratic themes in the history of art.
- Amanda Carpenter, who started as a joint contributor at Human Events and RedState, went on to be Cruz’s Senate communications director and now a successful pundit on CNN and one of the RS alumni writing now at The Conservative Review.
- A few of our alumni have become judges and prosecutors, including Chad Dotson, now an appeals judge in Virginia and still baseball blogging his beloved Reds at Redleg Nation, as well as at The Hardball Times and ESPN. I’ve also had two RS writers join me as colleagues at my law firm.
- A number – including some who only wrote here pseudonymously and others who have since departed social media – have done great labors in the public and private vineyards of the conservative movement.
RedState is now in the able hands of Leon, traffic is booming, and the recent addition of new writers on top of the stable of longstanding Contributors means I’ll be leaving this site with no concern for its future. I’ll miss not being a part of that future, but like others before who have moved on from this place, I’ll be taking a piece of RedState and what we’ve learned and built here with me. I’m excited for the future at National Review, and hope many of you will continue to follow me there. The winds may be against us and the fire intense from the unfaithful and the weak-minded on our own side, but damn the torpedos, full speed ahead.