A tree falls in the forest
We launched Scholars & Rogues in April of 2007. In the six-plus years since I have been responsible for over 1,500 posts, with more than 500 of them touching upon politics (see them all here and here). Before that I led the charge at S&R’s now-defunct predecessor, The 5th Estate, and probably was doing about the same volume there that I have over the past six years.
That’s better than one per week, and by just about any reasonable standard I think it’s safe to say that I have been an active “political blogger.”
It’s been an … interesting … run. Highs and lows, moments of vague hope generally outnumbered by rage and near-despair. Posts that confront this conflict and ambivalence, posts where I’m debating with myself as much as I am others. Posts that ignited fierce reactions and thoughtful debate, but more often posts that either lured the trolls and idiots out from under their rocks or simply set the crickets to chirping. Posts where I offer guidance and others where I realize that I have nothing to say that amounts to more than a sneeze in a windstorm. It’s been rewarding at times and frustrating at others.
Most of all, though, it’s been exhausting. I can’t describe the toll it has taken on me emotionally and physically, save to say that my health has suffered noticeably at times and it has occasionally fostered in me a toxicity that inflicted serious damage on important personal relationships. My attempt to be a better person, and to use what I know to the benefit of others, has frequently had precisely the opposite effect. I’m just about positive that I’m less likable than I was seven years ago.
I have carried on, though, because I was fighting what struck me as a critically important battle, and I felt like I had useful insights to offer. Doomed or not, this was my mission, and if I failed, at the very least I’d go down swinging. You can insert your own self-involved martyr joke here.
Obviously I’ve been thinking a lot. And I have reached some conclusions that perhaps I should have acknowledged long ago. For starters, while I can stroke myself all I want about how prolific and intelligent and noble I’ve been, I’d be hard pressed to point you toward any place I have made a mark. When I look coldly and objectively at all those passionate and informed and educated and enlightened commentaries, I see trees falling in a forest, a forest with no one to hear them.
Wasting my breath. Tilting at windmills. Preaching to the choir. All the while generating a caustic bile that eats me alive from the inside.
Enough is enough. So today I’m announcing my retirement from political blogging. I don’t expect the world to care or even notice, of course, and I don’t expect my absence from the grand debate on the dumpster fire that is contemporary America to be any more affected by my absence than it was my presence. But this last six years … that’s a significant chunk of time, isn’t it? Arguably those political writings will define my life over this era moreso than anything else. So I’ve chosen to pause and mark this spot in the road with a small cairn, metaphorically speaking. It’s who I am. Even when nobody else is paying attention, I have to live as though I matter.
This doesn’t mean that I’m through writing. No, no. I remain dedicated to the idea that if we take care of the culture, the politics will follow along in due course. I’ll keep commenting on music and sports and all the other things I’ve been known to address, and since I am who I am, it’s a certainty that my writing will continue to reflect the principles that have driven me as I flailed away at the depressing state of our republic. It will also give me more time to concentrate on my photography, which has become my great new love over the past year.
It also doesn’t mean that I’m going to go out quietly. No, this particular end is going to be characterized more by bang than whimper. First off, I’m going to do a brief goodbye letter to the citizenry, with some remarks on conservatism and progressivism and so forth. Nothing you haven’t heard from me before, I’m sure.
Then will come the swan song. I’ve been noodling on a project literally for a decade, and maybe more. I knew the day would come when I’d sit down and firm it up and publish it, and that day is almost here. I won’t give too much away, other than to say it will be a three-week series where I take all my years of bitching and complaining and turn them into a clearly stated solution. You may not like it, but you’ll have to admit that I took at cut at the upper deck.
I expect it will antagonize people. Either that or I’ll be walking away to the sound of crickets.
The rationale piece will be along later this week, and The New Constitution will begin Sunday.