On most weekdays for the past nine years, I’ve gotten out of bed, usually around six o’clock or so, scanned social media, checked a few websites, and then written about 500 words, usually before 10am. (In the beginning, I read the newspaper, but I haven’t had an N&O subscription in at least a couple of years.) I write about whatever comes to mind. Sometimes, it’s been something that’s been stewing for a while, but usually, it’s just my reaction to the news concerning North Carolina politics.
I started writing because I didn’t think the media was adequately explaining what was happening to North Carolina after Republicans captured both houses of the legislature and the Governor’s Mansion. Democrats, for their part, didn’t know how to respond to the sea change in our government and our politics. They had no idea how to be a minority party. I was frustrated watching the situation, so I put up a website and started posting my thoughts on PoliticsNC.
It took off pretty quickly. Moral Mondays started a few weeks after I launched PoliticsNC and the national media was down here looking for information. The blog became a go-to source and social media made it explode. By the fall of 2013, PoliticsNC had about 20,000 readers per month. Over time, readership settled down to about 12,000 individuals per month with spikes during elections and during politically-charged moments. That’s roughly where it’s stayed.
It’s been a good run, but it’s time to take a break. Over the past few months, I’ve struggled to write in the mornings. The blog has become more a chore than a passion. I don’t know that I’ve added much to the public debate or made many significant observations lately. My focus has shifted more to the broader political environment than just what’s happening in North Carolina.
I’ve also had signs from the universe that I need to at least give it a rest. Last month, my site became the victim of a credit card scam that has, so far, cost me more than $2,000. I’ve had to shut down credit card contributions and I don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a new vendor. While my overhead is low for a small business, PoliticsNC does need a few thousand dollars a year to operate. The money I will spend straightening out the mess will leave me at a deficit for 2022. The blog is too much work to lose money.
I don’t want to shut PoliticsNC down for good and will likely post periodically, just less regularly. I hope Alex Jones will continue to write and I’ll entertain submissions from other people who have interesting things to say. But, at least for now, I want a break from the obligation of posting every day, or even every other day.
While I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, PoliticsNC gave me the discipline to make it a practice. I don’t want to give that up. I just want to write about other things for a while. I’ve had an idea for a book that I’ve been turning over in my head for the past few years. I’d like to give that a shot. I’ve got a novel that needs to be rewritten—and probably rewritten after that. I want to expand my writing horizons.
I can’t stop following or thinking about politics, so when I want to say something, I’ll write it and post it. Maybe it’s once or twice a week. Maybe it’s just every few weeks. I don’t know right now. I just don’t want the pressure of posting every day.
Politics has also changed dramatically since I started the blog. We are a far more divided nation and we’re at a precarious point in our history. I’m dismayed by both of our political parties. The GOP has devolved into an autocratic and authoritarian party in thrall of a conman. The Democrats are divided by a left that’s totally out of touch with mainstream America and an establishment that is ancient and inept. One party seems hell-bent on ending our democracy and the other is too incompetent to stop it.
The stakes are bigger than just Democrats versus Republicans. I find myself cheering for people on both sides who might be willing to stop our disturbing slide into autocracy and dysfunction. I admire Senator Thom Tillis for taking the lead to rid our state of Madison Cawthorn. I think Governor Roy Cooper understands how to make government work at a time when too few leaders seem to get it. I believe Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is a national hero and we should all be pulling for him in his primary. N.C. House Minority leader Robert Reives is quietly making Democrats in the house more effective than at any time since they lost power more than a decade ago. And there are more good people in politics who we should raise up at a time when the goal of most politics is to tear down.
I don’t believe we can go back to the politics of post-war America, but we need to find people who can lead us to a new way of working as a country. We need to find a center that leads by consensus instead of being driven by fringes out to destroy each other. I don’t know the way forward, but it will likely take reform of our political system and compromise that neither side seems willing to reach.
I won’t stop thinking or writing about these concerns, but I need to do it at a new pace. This summer, I want to slow down. I’m going to see my grandson in Sweden and I’d like to take more than a few trips to the mountains to beat the heat. I’ll post when I feel like it and won’t when I don’t. Maybe in the fall, I’ll get back to the routine, but, for now, I’m not going to think too much about that .
I thank everyone for reading all of these years. It’s been a helluva ride. Have a great summer.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >
Thank you Mr. Mills! I look forward to your impending novel & hearing from you again in the not too distant future.
I, too, rely on you, Thomas. Do what’s right for you while I hope what’s right for you is to keep this site going.
Thomas, you have always been a canary in the coal mine for many of us who follow you. You deserve a rest from the weariness of the state of affairs in NC and our country. I look forward to a return of your viewpoints as soon as you get those books published. Best to you and your family.
I will miss your pragmatic, unvarnished assessment of NC politics.
I will miss your blog. I don’t think it needs to be daily. Just keep us posted on the trends over time. Please let us know when you get that book published. I’ll definitely read that.
Good luck to you, spoil that Grandchild properly and enjoy.
As someone who lived abroad for a decade, I’ve appreciated your insightful commentaries about North Carolina politics as I sought to get reacquainted with the state I thought I once knew well. .
As a childhood next door neighbor, and a regular reader, I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to you and your whole family’s respect for a government of for and by the people, and the critical thinking and search for truth such an experiment requires. I will miss your weekly thoughts, even as I look forward to your novel, and any other thoughts you share. Enjoy that grandbaby!
Several years ago, when I accidently came upon your blog, I became an instant fan. I hope that you quickly refresh yourself and feel able to resume writing. You have an outlook that is broad, yet gets to the important issues. Your writing is simple and clear–just what is needed for John Q. Public to view and understand. No matter what decision you make about continuing, thank you very much.
I moved to NC in 2012, although had been in and out of the state as a vistor for decades. I have learned much from your writings and from the site. Whatever you continue to choose, I am sure it will be done with humor and intelligence. Thanks for both the site and your contributions.
Will miss you but certainly understand how you feel. Enjoy your grandson in Sweden. Heck you might find you like it better there! I think I would!
As a PoC with my own biases, your column has been an inspiration to me through the years. I will miss you but only wish you the best!
Thanks, Thomas. Gonna miss your blog.
I will greatly miss your commentary. Thank you for the work you have done and I look forward to seeing your occasional writings.
I will miss your posts. They are indeed a breath of fresh air, civility, and intelligent analysis.
You mentioned that you would be running a deficit this year on your blog. I for one would be willing to chip in to reduce that burden.
Will very much miss your point of view but totally understand the need to step back, given today’s climate. Intrigued to hear more about the novel, as that’s my passion-hustle as well. Take care, Thomas.
Thank you for your work. Your column has been enlightening. Life has phases and it is wise to know when you are entering a new one. I am grateful for your astute observations.
Can’t help bristling at the “both sides” narrative, though, when one side’s efforts are bumbling, blinkered but basically well-meaning, while the other side is working to make us an illiberal, theocratic authoritarian Larger Hungary. The scale is not the same. The both sides narrative hides that fact. Sorry to cavil on your last day.
Thanks for all your good work, Thomas! I and many others who look forward to strengthening democracy in North Carolina will continue to look forward to whatever thoughts you can share with us.
Thomas, enjoy taking some well-deserved time off. You’ve more than earned it!
I will miss your wisdom and insights. And I know what it means to spend time with Grandkids. Enjoy! And when you are ready to write again I’ll be ready to listen. Thanks!
Thank you, Mr. Mills, for your energy and insights…I agree wholeheartedly that you have made our lives better.
Thank you for this blog. Please come back after appropriately recharging!
Sounds like a plan. Enjoy some time away and know that the neighborhood likes the flag on your fence! I bet you will have more to say come September!
Thanks so much for your thoughtful insights thus far. Your views are generally close to my own, and the added benefit is that you often focus on my own state of NC. I look forward to reading whatever you post, but, having just retired (in the nick of time) from a career in higher education, I understand burnout, or whatever you want to call it. Take care.
You have made us all better. Thank you.
Thank you for your incredible work, analysis and wry perspective. My in box won’t be the same without you, but what a good idea to take up new writing challenges. Best of luck.
Take care of yourself, Thomas. Maybe you will have time to write the book about our neighborhood dogs. love you.
Perhaps now you will have time to read or listen to “Invisible Hand” so you can understand why humanity has been reliving the same needless suffering and deaths for thousands of years. The explanation is not one you have ever considered before. (There are no ads at the website.)
Please continue to blog at your own pace and when you have something you feel in your heart that you need to share with us. Nobody expects a blogger to post every day! I bet you will feel more energized on a more reasonable and flexible schedule. I very much appreciate your insights and hope that you can continue in this endeavor. So sorry about the scam. What a bummer.
I’m sorry to hear about this Thomas. You’ve got an important voice there.
Is there a way to make a contribution to the cause? Paper check?
All the best from a fellow Ansonian …
Julie (Trowbridge) Martin
I just read your column with a mixture of sadness and joy, but mostly sadness. If there ever were a tiime when your voice is needed, especially in North Carolina and the Southeast, it is now. Gracious golly! What has come into people? What happened to character and decency and civility?
You have addressed those and related concerns. You have done so with candor and eloquence.
As someone who has strung together words for years, decades, really, I hear you. I know where you are coming from. We all need a break. I have not had one since I began as a boy reporter and editor in Asheville. 50 years ago.
I find this is the most critical time for our country in my nearly 80 years. Those of us who believe in democracy must stay the course and not back down and not withdraw.
Enjoy your break, but I hope, for the sake of my native state, you will return soon re-engaged and ready to face the darkness that is surrounding us all. As the flag on my weekly newspaper proclaims, “Don’t let democracy die in darkness — or in broad daylight.”
Your faithful reader and admirer
Editor and Publisher
The Crewe-Burkeville Journal
Yeah. Absyehst he said
I remember meeting you and your family at Helen Post Mils when your running for office. I’ve followed your posts ever since. I’m going to feel much less informed now. Thank you
Thank you,Thomas, for this insightful, sometimes troubling, and often inspiring contribution you’ve made to my political and social awareness (and behavior) over the past two decades. You’ve made generous, beneficial, astute, and sometimes brilliant observations about and to North Carolina political consciousness. Thank you very much.
Thank you for this work. It is very meaningful, and you have done it without rancor. Enjoy your change!
Thomas, thank you for your dedication to providing North Carolinians with your insights and perspectives. I, for one, always enjoy reading your posts and look forward to reading more, even if they occur with less frequency. Good luck with your book(s).