I first met Erick Erickson at a burger joint in downtown McDonough, Georgia called Kirby G’s. It’s owned by the former president of Mercer University (Erick’s law alma mater), R. Kirby Godsey. I stepped on Godsey’s brown dress shoes as I spun to greet him. Godsey didn’t remember me, but I remembered him from the one time we had lunch together at the exclusive City Club in Macon. Erick was as easygoing and casual in person as he is on the radio–and gracious with his time as I was running to catch a flight and he was preparing for his radio show.
There are few courageous people left with both their courage and integrity intact after this threshing floor of election years. But Erick Erickson is one of those few. This weekend the New Yorker published a profile of Erick, one of the very small club of non-beltway, non-New York, uncelebrity power brokers of conservative thought. Where the steel meets the rails, Erick is re-learning conservatism from the ground up, the same ground our founders used, which began at the foot of Christ’s cross.
The seminary course is teaching Erickson, among others things, “how to always have a voice in the back of my head saying, ‘You probably want to pause before tweeting or writing that.’ ”
The Resurgent has one overriding purpose. Like Google’s corporate motto is “don’t be evil,” I believe The Resurgent’s motto should be “Truth to Power”–as in we are not afraid to tell the truth in all things, to represent a transcendently-based, absolute morality worked out through logic, compassion, love, and the facts in evidence about humanity, history, and competing world views.
Erick tells the truth without apology. That’s why I write here.
Were the stars aligned differently, I might have been one of Erick’s law classmates. Alas I was a few years late in getting to my LSAT, and never enrolled at Mercer Law despite having the test scores and stellar endorsements. It took another nine years for me to find him writing for a little-known blog called RedState and still pitching in at Peach Pundit (which he did, even until the end). We had a brief discussion about a local mayoral race for which I was the dark horse’s campaign manager. Erick’s instincts were dead right.
Even then, Erick told the truth. He got into radio, taking the morning gig at WMAC Macon when my friend Chris Krok took Kroktalk to the big market in Dallas. I listened to Erick’s first Good Friday show when he gave his testimony of God’s grace, of sitting in the mud, tears and rain on his face (you must listen if you’ve never heard one, this is from 2015).
Donald Trump was invited to the 2015 RedState gathering, to speak off-site at the after-party Saturday night. I attended the Atlanta event, but wanted to get home to my kids and and early wake-up Sunday morning for church, so I had planned on leaving before the party. I was very shocked when Erick disinvited Trump over the “blood coming out of her wherever” remark, but even more shocked at the disgusting and disturbing reaction to it.
This was a nothingburger–a single-speech two days after the first GOP debate. Nobody had to care, but Trump made this into a national issue, and made Erick into a target for his many cult followers. It would have been easy for Erick to just recant, or to patch things up a month later. Even Ted Cruz succumbed to pressure. But Erick never did, even when Trump tried to characterize Erick’s leaving RedState as a result of the disinvite. (It wasn’t, as his decision predated any of that. I have proof as do many others.)
In 2013, after a long run helping to build a business, the other owners and I sold to a multinational public company. I got a nice but small payday and a rather safe (and by most standards, cushy) job with the new owners. Writing had always been one of those back-of-my-mind gifts I’ve had, somewhat more useful than channeling Strunk & White by memory and having a preternatural ability to spell correctly, but not like Bob Dylan’s songwriting or Solzhenitsyn’s dead-eye perspective.
Then one day, I had written a motivational talk for my employees and my boss told me if I wanted a second career, I should consider writing. He was probably half-joking. But I started blogging daily and building my anemic vocabulary and flaccid style. Then I started writing a diary at RedState. What a concept: the People could blog and read each other’s stuff. It was like a pickup basketball game for political nerds. I made it my goal to become a front page writer on RedState.
I sent Erick a handwritten note to his home (which is 18 miles from mine, front door to front door), asking if we could have lunch one day, thinking how intrusive and absolutely obnoxious that is. He emailed me how handwritten notes were a lost art, and it took about six months to finally get lunch. He paid and left early for a radio interview.
Most celebrities would think that someone who looked up to them the way I did with Erick was at best an annoying sycophant and at worst a nascent stalker. But Erick was always gracious. I was shocked in late 2015 when we had our second lunch (in 2 years), at a local pizza joint which the Acela citydwellers at The Atlantic would have written was “painfully quaint and trying hard to be city-hipster” if Erick hadn’t taken them to Wild Wings Cafe instead. (The pizza joint has been around for nearly 25 years–it’s quintessential artsy Macon and serves great food.) Erick told me he was starting The Resurgent and showed me the burnt orange and ash gray phoenix-eagle.
Erick told me I’d be welcome to write for The Resurgent.
We are not here to lie to you, or spin, or hurl clickbait down the big memory hole into which the truth disappears never to be seen again. Erick and The Resurgent are here to tell you the truth–the truth as we see it, led by the best boss to ever run a blog, period.
I told Erick that I had left my corporate job at the end of September (2015). When I spoke to my pastor about this, he had asked if I was planning to support my family as a writer. “Certainly not!” I lied. I actually didn’t lie, because I planned a new company, for which I had some investors lined up and projects waiting to deploy. I still have the company, but we haven’t made any money with our products. So I join the long line of successful entrepreneurs who change the world and lose their shirts (like Jack Dorsey). But we still have some projects up our sleeves, so I’m not technically lying.
For all those people who say Erick does this website for the money: I am not authorized to disclose the site’s finances. Mostly because I don’t know them. But I can tell you that when people claim there’s a million dollars floating around, bitter tears fill my eyes from ironic laughter. Nobody here is getting rich, or buying Maybachs. I drive a Subaru. Erick tools around in a Suburban. The writers here get paid less per thousand words than the hourly cost to feed 100 monkeys replicating War & Peace on manual typewriters.
In other words, if my small business doesn’t provide, I will be faced with the wonderful prospect of being a very well educated Wal-Mart greeter at 52 years old as the alternative to supporting my family with my writing. I learned career management from Hernán Cortés.
The Bible says that we shall know real believers by their fruit. Erick left RedState to start The Resurgent. He left the old site in the hands of Leon Wolf. Leon turbocharged RedState beyond anything Erick had seen, traffic-wise, and that propelled his career to his new position as managing editor of The Blaze. And Leon is about to do for The Blaze more than he did for RedState (the new design is functional and clean). Leon’s move opened up a slot at RedState for Caleb Howe, who now takes the reigns at a very well-established and powerful voice.
Do you see how people are not crushed in Erick’s wake, but instead they are lifted and elevated? The truth will do that for you.
I write at The Resurgent because I get to tell the truth here. Sometimes we writers don’t agree on the facts or the conclusions, but we always agree on telling the truth, and arriving to that truth through the same lens of wisdom, humility, and honor our founding fathers relied upon.
Hillary Clinton is a nonstarter as a presidential hopeful. Donald Trump is anathema to conservative thought and the cause of liberty. This is the truth.
Back to the New Yorker:
Erickson admits that his stoking of anger and distrust has helped enable Trump’s rise—and thus Hillary Clinton’s likely victory. He’s no fan of Clinton, of course. “If somebody put a gun to my head and said pick Clinton or Trump, I’d have to pick the bullet,” he told me.
None of us are going to eat a bullet. But we owe this to you and to ourselves: to keep telling you the truth, before and after November 8th.
Truth to power.