Not too long after I first started PoliticsNC (eight years ago this month), I brought on a young writer named John Wynne . John provided a thoughtful conservative perspective because I wanted this blog to be a place of respectful debate in an increasingly disrespectful political arena. During that time, I had a lot of conservatives who reached out to me to say that they don’t really agree with me, but appreciate what I write. More than a few sent financial contributions.
Since John left (Thanks for your time with PoliticsNC, John), the number of responses I get from conservatives has dwindled. Maybe it’s the nature of a blog running its course. Maybe it’s the increasingly polarized political environment. But I believe not having a conservative voice to counter my progressive one made PoliticsNC less appealing to them. I miss the feedback from conservatives.
My core readership has always been people who largely agree with me. I am honored that my readers include some of the people I consider North Carolina’s most prominent public officials and leaders from both the past and present. I suspect I mostly validate their views or offer new arguments to shore them up. While I hope they continue to read and continue to give the feedback that keeps me writing even when I feel ready to hang it up, I also want to change minds.
In that spirit, I’ve brought on Rick Henderson whose libertarian, center-right perspective differs from mine. After I introduced Rick, several people pointed out that conservatives have plenty of platforms and that twitter makes them accessible to everybody. True, but it’s not my platform and not enough conservatives are reading what I’ve got to say. Call it ego, but I believe I can offer arguments that will make my conservative counterparts reconsider, or at least question, their positions.
I’ll also be publishing other conservatives who send me thoughtful responses. I hope their work will bring me more conservative readers because that’s who I really want to influence and debate. For me, winning the public argument, or at least fighting to a draw, is the point of politics.
I also want to elevate conservative voices who can counter the populist ones that have taken over the Republican Party. It’s easy for progressives to lump all Republicans together, but it’s also intellectually lazy, if not dishonest. The Trumpists running the Republican Party and the conservative movement are in the midst of a very public divorce. I want the movement folks to again become dominant, not because I agree with them, but because the Trumpists are part of the illiberal white nationalism that has historically divided this country with very ugly and deadly consequences. The traditional conservatives believe in democracy and freedom and the institutions that protect them.
I believe we are undergoing a political re-alignment that will likely benefit progressives for the next few years and, possibly, decades. That said, we need a responsible opposition party that believes in the rules of engagement, not the undermining of the democratic process. People who disagree with the more activist government that I support need a place to go that does not advocate violence as a political tool or condone lying as political rhetoric. I will promote some of those voices I believe are reasonable and responsible. I also hope their readership will read me.
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 >