a small sign of hope - a mud-stained and tattered American flag stands in a pile of debris left by Hurricane Katrina in Chalmette, Louisiana

When the World Seems Upside Down

(Originally posted at Medium)

I suppose I should put this at The Resurgent, but friends keep coming to Medium for these sorts of things, so I’ll follow the herd. It is ironic, in a way, because I am less and less inclined to follow the herd these days. The herd, the one I have long identified with, seems to be headed off a cliff.

Right now it seems the world is upside down for those of us who for so long thought we were surrounded by friends of principle. Many of those friends have drifted away. I have heard others often say they were standing still and the world or their party moved on. I often think of them, “No, you moved and just don’t realize it.”

So I wonder if I have moved or has the conservative movement moved. My conclusion is that I am still standing where I’ve always stood. My views have not changed. The things I say on radio today and write at The Resurgent are the things I was saying last year and the year before and the year before that. But friends of mine have changed completely.

What happens when you’re standing straight and the world turns upside down? Right now, I do not think there is much that can be done. The things I got wrong, so very wrong, this year, were based on a belief the polling was wrong and a belief that Republican voters were better than they apparently are. Trump has allowed a lot of people to feel comfortable in their prejudices and has shown a lot of good people to not have the courage of their convictions.

It turns out, in fact, that the world is vastly more tribal than we sometimes realize. There is the Democrat team and the Republican team. If we do not go along with the team, we are not on the team. But I am okay not being on the team right now. I find both to be morally reprehensible.

So here I stand. I stand up in an upside down world. Gravity dictates that a world upside down will crumble down all around me and those of us with convinction who have refused to yield to Trump. Some of us will have to pick up the pieces. We are commited to ideas. Those ideas are grounded in the faith of an absolute truth and the belief that we are all sinners, so government and society will work best when we have as few sinners in charge of us as possible.

We believe no one strong man can fix anything and Washington does more than it can or constitutionally should.

The one potentially personal toll has been in my radio career. To be sure, while I love filling in for Rush Limbaugh and it literally was the only goal I have ever had (I don’t believe in setting goals), that is certainly off the table for now. He’d be lighting himself on fire if I guest hosted for him right now. It’d be a terrible business decision and I do not blame him one bit. When I filled in last December, when I was still considering possibly holding my nose and voting for Trump, program directors across America were inundated with angry Trump supporters. Now that I’m absolutely not voting for him, there’s no way I’d even fill comfortable guest hosting for a national radio program, be it Rush or Herman Cain or anyone else. It would put them in a terrible position.

Every day locally my program director gets angry emails from people claiming they will never listen again from 5pm to 7pm. I get those emails too from kind all Christians telling me they just can’t take me being “for Hillary” because I’m against Trump. The same happens in social media, on both Twitter and Facebook. Some advertisers have quietly stepped back after sustained harassment from Trump supporters. I spend time reassuring other advertisers that everything will be fine.

It is enough to make me wonder if I should turn myself upside down to save my career — tell people what they want to hear, whether I believe it so or not. But that’s not me. My business is, at its essence, entertainment, but I truly don’t believe I could sacrifice my soul to entertain people who really need to be told the truth. I can’t be engaging if I cannot be me.

Thus far it has not actually affected me in radio. My cumulative listening audience has increased about 70% since I planted my flag against Trump. I am the most listened to talk radio program in Atlanta. In fact, even with all of this, more people are listening to me in Atlanta than any other program in evening drive time and in the much coveted demographic that advertisers love, only one adult contemporary station regularly gets ahead of me. I keep waiting for the bottom to fall out and I’ve been waiting since February. It has not happened yet. Maybe it will now that he is the nominee. But maybe it won’t.

The Trump people keep talking about a silent majority and how Trump is their man. My interaction with people suggests otherwise. The silent majority are those who want an alternative to Hillary, but are horrified by Trump. These are people who dare not speak up because they see the harassment so many others sustain and see friendships put in jeopardy. And they want the sane voice in the wilderness not afraid to still tell the truth.

And so here I am. I find myself beset on one side by the left that hates my ideas and the other by the right that hates my rejection of their candidate because of those ideas. I’m just not willing to surrender intellectual honesty in the name of winning because a dishonest win is a loss of character and conviction.

What does it profit a man to gain the White House and lose his soul? The Republicans are working hard to find out. I’d rather sleep well at night knowing the temptation was offered. The money was there. The free trips to Mar-a-Lago came up. The career acceleration was possible. And I turned it all down putting everything at risk because it was the right thing to do.

The world is upside down right now. Gravity will pull it down and in the rubble some of us are going to have to help put it back together again on the right. There will be a season of blame where the voices and competition that built up Trump blame me and others for his loss. I don’t expect those voices to go away. But I suspect I’ll be able to withstand their barbs.

Already I can tell some failed radio and TV hosts and some up and coming local hosts hoping to get into syndication are using me as their whipping boy, proving their loyalty and fealty to Trumpism. I think what no one really has ever understood about me is that I do not really care. I never planned to be on television or radio. I just go where the good Lord leads and he has provided all this thus far. I find myself in new and excited adventures I never wanted or expected.

Those trying to use the perceived destruction of my career as a way to get ahead may be successful. But I do not know how much long term success someone can have when they base it on the perceived collapse of someone else — particular one who has not actually collapsed.
Me? I’d love to do syndicated radio, but I don’t think I’m ready yet and I am in no hurry. I’d love to do more television too. I still want my cooking show where I talk politics, drink beer, and cook with people across the ideological spectrum.

Tomorrow, however, I’ll just be on radio and at The Resurgent. I’ll be saying and believing exactly what I’m saying and believing today and yesterday. These other folks will not. And that’s a shame. The here and now profit is temporary. But we are eternal creatures so character, conviction, and truth must matter more than Trump vs. Clinton.

The world is upside down. But gravity will correct that.

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Erick Erickson

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