Goodbye, GOPLifer

The GOPLifer project has reached its end. I have created a new site called PoliticalOrphans.com, where I’ll be joined by a few friends in posting new material.

At GOPLifer I’ve tried to avoid first person writing. Now that it’s time to pack up to move on, it might be good to describe some of the personal history and reasoning that gave rise to this project.

John McCain represented the Republican Party’s last chance to turn the tide against white nationalism. It wasn’t much of a chance, but it was all we had. On election night, staffers managed to stop Sarah Palin from delivering the concession speech, but no one could stop Palin from steering the party toward madness. With McCain defeated and a black man in the White House, our collective pathologies came scrambling into view like roaches crawling out of the walls.

I had been active in Republican grassroots politics for longer than I had been eligible to vote. In high school I had dinner with my Congressman and gave speeches at public events. In college I interned at the Texas Legislature. I met Rick Perry right after he left the Democratic Party. In Houston I was a donor and volunteer for Associated Republicans of Texas through which I worked on state and local campaigns. And in suburban Chicago I became a local Republican precinct committeeman in 2006.

With McCain swept to the margins and radicals firmly in control, by 2009 one could no longer be a Republican in good standing without serious moral qualms. It still seemed possible that the party could right itself, but the Tea Party movement had ushered in a wave of racist rhetoric and policy unprecedented in the party’s history. To remain in the GOP with a clear conscience meant finding an outlet through which to describe and work toward an alternative Republican future.

My wife suggested I start a blog. I resisted. A blog seemed like an ideal platform for posting pictures of yourself drinking great coffee. It seemed like a lousy environment in which to wrestle with complex ideas. And the comments. Jesus, the comments…

Worse, there was no way to coherently express my thoughts on current events in a blog without creating a record that would ruin my standing in the party. Any hope I might have of one day taking a prominent role on a campaign or even running for office myself would be destroyed. Ideally, I would have preferred to develop and express these ideas behind the scenes, but all receptive forums had been burned to the ground. Any dissent would have to be public and nothing poisons a political career like candor.

I didn’t read or follow blogs. For the most part, I still don’t. But faced with a lack of alternatives and a very persuasive wife, I kissed my political career goodbye and built a blog.

Across the spring of 2009 I began writing out my thoughts on the state of the Republican Party. The first posts appeared on a goofy little free WordPress blog that still exists, awkwardly titled ‘Building a Better GOP.’ The effort had two objectives. First, I hoped that I might take a place among a growing chorus of Republican reformers. I hoped that we might link our efforts and steer the party back toward sanity. Second, I wanted an outlet for dissent, a means to gain absolution. If the party couldn’t be reformed, then I at least wanted proof that I hadn’t been a spineless collaborator.

Later in 2009 I began posting some material in the Houston Chronicle’s public blog section. That’s when things started to get interesting.

There’s a commenter still posting at GOPLifer who was the first person to comment on one of those Houston Chronicle posts. Others soon joined, many of whom are still engaged here at the Lifer blog. Though I produced some good material, it was the comments section that really stood out. Thanks in large part to activity from the community on that blog, posts from the ‘GOPLifer’ occasionally topped the Houston Chronicle’s list of most active pages.

In 2013 the Chronicle made some changes to its blog platform that undermined the usefulness of the comments section. This frustrating development required me to consider a new direction. I ginned up a logo using photoshop, bought a domain, and launched GOPLifer.com. For a while I posted pieces in both places, but by this year the flow to the Chronicle had dropped to a trickle. GOPLifer had become the home for this new community.

Right up to the summer of 2016 I still felt some hope that Republicans might change the party’s direction. However, by late spring it looked like a worst-case scenario was taking shape instead. In June I had started drafting a potential resignation letter, but I still hoped I could delete it. That’s not how things turned out.

After the convention I sent my resignation letter to our local party chairman and posted it on social media. I cut my last ties to the Republican Party. The ‘GOPLifer’ project was over.

After a few months spent mourning and exploring new directions, PoliticalOrphans.com is now ready. I have no idea what comes next for me politically, but I at least have a place to wrestle with that question. Joining me are a few collaborators who have offered to provide advice and content.

As I close up the GOPLifer blog I want to acknowledge some of the support I’ve enjoyed over the years.

Dwight Silverman played a key role in getting this project off the ground. When he headed up the Houston Chronicle’s interactive journalism efforts he fostered this blog project. Thanks to David Frum for giving me a place at FrumForum and guiding me past some bad writing habits. Thanks to the company I work for and my clients who have patiently tolerated my occasionally public personal project. Thanks to Avik Roy who has offered me a new forum at Forbes from which to opine.

A special thanks to the hundreds of people who consistently participate in the comments section. You have created something remarkable there which I hope will grow even richer on a more suitable platform.

I want to thank all the friends and family who supported this effort by encouraging me to write and by posting GOPLifer articles all over social media.

Most of all I want to thank my wife and family. This was her idea and she pressed me to make it happen. Then she endured the toll this has taken on my free time and hers. She has tried to edit out my most glaring grammar errors and talked me out of some poor concepts.

We’ve had a great run here together. Time to move forward. Hope to see you all at PoliticalOrphans.com.

Thank you.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

Posted in Uncategorized
46 comments on “Goodbye, GOPLifer
  1. Andy Crosier says:

    Chris, You spring forth with a touch of hope and inspiration. I too did just as you many years ago, now at 75 I realize it was for the good of hard working, honest people. I too was a Repub. chairman but found the path they were on contrary to my conscience. Thank you but don’t stop there. Be a part of the solution not a by stander. Andy

  2. Jaime says:

    I just happened to find your blog, a link from another site brought me to your resignation letter. Then I just kept reading. It was so refreshing to read level-headed posts from a Republican, or former one. There wasn’t a screech in the bunch.

    I will follow you to your new site. I look forward to reading more from you.

  3. Nick Danger says:

    I only found this site a year and a half ago, when someone pointed to the Blue Wall post. The writing has been revelatory because you answer questions that I hadn’t even thought to ask.

    It’s worth following someone who has a moral foundation. I think that’s why you’ve attracted such a great comments section.

    I’ve been so angry at the Republican party since they surrendered to the loony right that reading your blog is the only time feel sad about their decline. It is sad, but it took you to remind me.

    Thanks for the good work.

  4. Thanks! Your blog has been very illuminating about the GOP and american culture generally (especially american southern culture).

  5. flypusher says:

    I clicked the link on my activation e-mail, but I’m getting an “invalid activation key” message on the site.

  6. Yankee Arkansawyer says:

    Another life long Democrat here. I discovered your blog some time ago & have reposted some of your observations with due credit and a link to your work because your ideas deserve wider circulation. I appreciate your thoughtful analysis of the current state of political affairs. Good luck at your new site. I’m going to try to register there tonight.

  7. Patrick Dean says:

    Chris, can you send me another email about the political orphans registration number – I deleted the number by mistake. While I never commented on your blog, I have enjoyed reading it for the past year and a half – and largely agree with your arguments. I myself tried to keep Trump from the nomination by voting in the VA primary against him. Unfortunately, that did not happen – and since there is no place for what is called “moderate Republicans” in the current GOP, I’m going to leave it after only one primary. Thanks, PMD >

  8. Steve Larson says:

    My first and last comment. I randomly came across GOPLifer last winter and have been reading every post since then (and a number of your older posts). I will certainly be following your new site (where I might get around to commenting more often…). Thank-you for your many brilliant insights and dedication. Intelligence, humanity and true patriotism. All the best to you and your family.

  9. lomamonster says:

    I am really glad that you are still “leaving a light on for us”. Without it, I’m sure the roaches would overrun the blogosphere and we would be truly lost. See you over the next mountain, eh Chris?

  10. Liz Webber says:

    Hey Chris… thank you for welcoming a Canadian who believes that ‘line’ is mostly a figment of our imaginations! See you in the ‘basket’ of ‘orphans’!

  11. Crogged says:

    I’m very, well, I can’t use the word ‘happy’…….about all this news of the year for you. I’ve commented very little for some time, beginning with the unreality of Huey P Mussolini turning into reality. You deserve to have more of your writing reaching a bigger audience and this country needs more of you. What you did here changed me and made me think. Thank you. I’ll check in over there, if the other writers are half as thought provoking I may lose even more time every day.

  12. Griffin says:

    Just registered at your new site I look forward to pestering you there! Really though Im pretty sure you’re my favorite pundit at this point.

  13. bubbabobcat says:

    Good luck Chris.

  14. Chris,

    Are your old posts going to be available to us? I ask because some, hell. most, are great to revisit and some are gems!

  15. tmerritt15 says:

    Chris,

    I am sad to see GOPLifer closed. I hope your comments here will remain accessible. Your thoughts on the future of the GOP will be worth reviewing as the future is revealed. I continue to hope that a new center-right political party appears. If that is a resurrected GOP so much the better. But for the foreseeable future, I have limited hope.

    I will be joining PolitcalOrphans. Hopefully many of the other commenters here will also. I began reading GOPLifer following the 2014 election and found your commentary and the other comments very enlightening, particularly with the central US orientation of many of the commenters. Living in Seattle and the Pacific Coast, we can get rather isolated in our thinking, even though the eastern and rural sections of the three states are rather conservative. After all there is a reason we are sometimes referred to as the “left coast”.

    Good Luck!

  16. Archetrix says:

    Trying to create an account profile at the new link and it tells me that my password doesn’t match no matter what versions I try. I am on an ipad using Safari but I’ll try again with a desktop and use Chrome later once things get a little more stable.

  17. Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

    I hope to see folks somewhere on the other side.

    You all have been tremendous drag on my overall productivity through the years, but terribly fun.

    • rightonrush says:

      I found that I was more active on the blog before I retired. Now my wife keeps me so busy that I have to catch up when I can.

      • 1mime says:

        Yes, I have noticed your absence, Righton. Please ask your better half for a little more R&R so we can enjoy your company more frequently.

      • rightonrush says:

        Thank you Mime for you kind words. Savannah (wife) has a bucket list of things she wants us to accomplish before we kick the bucket. Most of it is fun stuff that we were not able to afford when we were younger.

      • 1mime says:

        Do it all while your health permits. Too many people hold on to savings for their “golden” years only to be limited in their physical ability to enjoy their lives. I have no doubt Savannah has your best interests at heart!

    • 1mime says:

      Aw, Homer, you know you got a “buzz” from the blog, and your humorous personifications always brought a chuckle. See you at PO!

  18. flypusher says:

    What first caught my eye about this blog several years back was here is a Republican actually calling out the Tea Party faction!! That was the hook, and since then I have found education, political therapy, and even entertainment on this blog. GOP Lifer is now dead, but long live PoliticalOrphans. I’ll get registered at PoliticalOrphans this evening to participate in the next phase- catch you on the other side!!

  19. Stephen says:

    Thanks. You and the posters have taught me much. People who visit your blog have been all over the country. This is the power of this new media , people of like interest can find each other easier and engage. You are so right in your last post, what the conservative movement and the GOP need to do is find their humanity again.

  20. irapmup says:

    Thanks. Good luck, good management and congratulations.

  21. sheila Anderson says:

    I have appreciated your wise observations and look forward to hearing what you have to say in the future. I am a lifelong Democrat but was intrigued enough by the GOPlifer label to give it a go. I am glad that I did. Your observations are prescient and have made me think. Thank you!

  22. 1mime says:

    Bravo and Hello PoliticalOrphans.com!

  23. goplifer says:

    I think the registration issue is resolved (in a duct-tape sort of way). The main menu now includes a “Join” link. At that page there is a link to the wordpress registration form. Let me know if you see issues with that workaround. Thanks.

  24. goplifer says:

    First day problems. You can register to participate at this link: http://politicalorphans.com/register/

    For some reason the prompt in the menu wasn’t working. Still don’t know why. And once you’ve logged in you can’t see the registration page anymore. Funky.

  25. goplifer says:

    Yup. Working on it.

  26. Bobo Amerigo says:

    account problems at the new site

  27. Alan Gross says:

    Activation link not working on new site. Please check.

  28. As a life-long but disillusioned Democrat, I greatly appreciate you. I look forward to your new gig.

  29. Chris,

    Thank you for all your hard work! You have been a breath of fresh air for this aging X Republican! Good luck with the new site!

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