As many of you know, my Father was buried this past Monday (and I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to thank all of you for the overwhelming response my tribute to him received. I wrote it because I believed in my heart he deserved it; the response was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I wept while I penned it; I wept again as I read each of the responses from you each describing your own 'hero.')
This past week was spent cleaning out the accumulation of 60 years of 'I can use that someday' from my Dad's 'barn' (the house, basement and garage are still await me :-). Hauling away what ended up to be a 1,000 lbs of scrap steel (no wonder I'm sore this morning) and enough flammable material to fuel a burn pile for 24 solid hours gives one a lot of time to recount the hundreds of conversation he had with his hero through the years (whilst contemplating just exactly for what purpose dear ol' dad planned on using the "For Sale sign from the house we sold....in 1972)
I mentioned in my eulogy that I could have recounted more pearls of wisdom from my dad that either you or I had time for. Well, you might not have more time this morning, but I do so...here goes with what I will term Life Lessons from Dad:
1) If you have enough energy to complain about a situation, you have enough energy to do something about it;
2) Bosses make rules. Your job is to follow them.
3) Never say anything behind someone's back that you wouldn't say to their face (and it's corollary - don't say anything about someone publicly that you haven't already said to them privately).
4) If someone's paying you to do a job, do it.
5) If you don't like what's going on in an organization, either try to fix it or join another organization. because whining never accomplished a thing.
6) Praise people publicly and often. Criticize them seldom and in private.
7) Judge actions, not motives. There's only one person who can judge hearts and motives, and trust me, you ain't Him.
I obviously haven't been able to spend a lot of time on here this past week but I did get enough snippets off my BlackBerry to know that the RS that I've called home for the past 3 years has undergone some major and painful changes in the past week or so. Now, I'm not going to spend any time recounting whether I think this was/is a good or bad thing (LLfD #2) or why it happened (LLfD #7). Besides, there seems to have been plenty of that done already.
But as I read the Diary entitled "An Explanation," another LLfD came to mind: "Any man who doesn't stand up for the honor of those he calls 'friend' isn't much of a man." So with those words ringing in my ears, here goes.
I was a 10 month member of 'The List' that was described in that diary. I read communications from it almost every day and all I know is an incomplete picture has been painted. In the process, some people who I've come to know, love and respect for their love of country have had their reputations and honor impugned . Why? Don't know. Don't care. (LLfD #7). All I do know is that based on some of the comments in response to the diary, that for whatever reason, it's happened.
The List had as its stated goal to bring about synergy in the conservative movement to help move it forward in tangible and intangible ways. As others have noted, it included regular RSers and some FPers. It also included individuals who rarely if ever visited RS but who worked in other aspects of the Movement. In other words, it was a Network more than it was a List.
While one of the ways in doing this was to find and promote those who articulated well the conservative movement, it was one of many objectives, the other's being more involvement in GOTV, grassroots involvement in the Party, the promotion of conservative candidates and fundraising for such candidates.
Now, I'm not going to tell you that this was a perfect group who never did anything that, in hindsight they shouldn't have. Nor am I going to say that, like in all groups, egos didn't sometimes get in the way (as I recall, there was a certain group of 12 otherwise fine men with whom Christ had to have repeated discussions of keeping there egos in check). And yeah, that sometimes got out of hand as friends rushed to defend friends against what they perceived to be unfair or inaccurate comments.
And yeah, the incident described in the Diary occurred, and yeah, the author did call that incident to light, and yeah, he resigned from the group. But what wasn't described (I'm going to give the author the benefit of the doubt and say he didn't know because he was no longer with us LLfD#7) was that the group had a collective navel gazing moment, and that from that time forward, if there were any dustups between members of The Network and other diarists, they were serendipitous, not coordinated (and, as is demonstrated even in the comments sections of Mr. Wolf's diary, RSers are a rather feisty, independent lot who don't exactly require a lot of encouragement to get into dust-ups with each other; or, in the alternative, just dig out any diary with the words "Sarah Palin" on it).
But the assertion that bothered my conscience the most was the assertion that The Network kept otherwise good material from rising to the Recommended List when my experience tells me that was simply not true. There were people in The Network who almost daily scoured the Member Diary list to bring to our attention well-written but unrecommended diaries from "Non-Network". The folks who did this were people who would be recognized instantly by regular RS reaaders as some of the most genteel and polite of creatures on this site and who were wholly dedicated to the promotion of the sense of Community here.
I couldn't begin to count the number of times I would receive an email which stated, in various ways, "such and such wrote an awesome piece on such and such and it's falling off the diary list; go take a look at it and if you feel it warrants it, give it some lovin'." Not only, IMHO, did The Network not conspire to keep other diaries off the Recommended list, many diaries made it onto the Recommended List because of The List.
And even those who were in the network more often than not inevitably accompanied the announcement that they had written something with the comment 'if you find it worthy, feel free to reco and tweet'. Sometimes I did...sometimes I didn't. And I'm guessing that there were more than a few of my colleagues who took the same approach (Vassar's diaries made it to the top so often because so many of RSers period apparently appreciated his writings because if you go back and look at the number of recco's some of his diaries received, I guarantee you that a significant majority of the hordes of reco's that he received did not come from "The Network").
As I said before, I'm not going to pretend that this was a pristine and perfect group of people who never had lapses in judgement, or who, in hindsight, didn't reflect back on things and make 'course corrections' as to how things were being done. But what I know for a fact, and it's the only reason I took the time to pen this post, is that a more dedicated group of conservatives with deep love of country would be hard to find.
There have been a lot of opinions expressed on here regarding how this matter was handled, the reactions to it, the reactions to the reactions, etc. Personally, I would've preferred to have seen more of #s 3, 6 and 7; but then I recall LLfD #2 and am left with contemplating LLfD #5.
All I know is that it's been a great ride these last 3 years and RS has done much to further the cause of conservatism in the time I've been here. I've met some great friends and being here (which led me to The Network) ultimately culminated, on the Saturday after my Dad died, in my election as GOP County Chair, as a member of my Congressional District's central committee, and, most importantly, as a member of of our state's GOP Central Committee. (my daughter's reaction, upon hearing that we'd have to wait to leave till Saturday afternoon to because the County convention was in the morning, was to burst into laughter and say "so we're leaving late because you have to attend a political meeting. How utterly appropriate that we would leave late for Grandpa's funeral because you're gong to a political gathering. He'd be so proud!) This means that in April, I'll get to cast a ballot to elect our state party officers, and, more importantly, our RNC committemen. (Somehow I know that somewhere in this great land, ColdWarrior's smiling.)
I'm not sure, based on LLfD#5, how much I'll be around here in the future but ya know, that really doesn't matter. The Movement is much more important and all-encompassing than any one person, and that certainly includes some guy who goes by the name 'eburke'. What is important is that no matter who we are, or where we choose to go to advance the cause of The Movement, we focus laser-like on what unites us, not what divides us. The Foe is too great, and our country too precious, to do otherwise. So, whether it's here...or whether it's there...