Daily Kos' second decade comes to a close, and a friend rides off into the sunset
I started Daily Kos in May 2002. Can you believe it? A dinky blog created to blow off anger, frustration, and steam at an incompetent, corrupt, and murderous regime turned into something no one could’ve ever predicted. Remember? When we couldn’t imagine anyone worse than George W. Bush?
Daily Kos din’t grow linearly, but with sudden bursts of passion and energy. There was 2003, around Howard Dean; 2004 in opposition to the Iraq War; 2007 in support of Barack Obama; 2011 rallying around Occupy; 2015 around Bernie Sanders; and then the biggest burst of all in 2017, as a key hub of the anti-Trump resistance. The culmination of all that effort and energy has created a place that delivers the party’s super activists to causes, campaigns, and issues like few others. In any given cycle, the Daily Kos community funnels around $50 million in value to the progressive movement, in addition to providing boots on the ground for protests, voter registration efforts, get-out-the-vote campaigns, and other volunteer opportunities.
2020 will be the culmination of everything we have worked to build. The future of our republic is literally at stake. Every election is “the most important election in our lifetime,” and maybe that’ll be perpetually true for the rest of our lives. But can anyone doubt that it’s particularly true next year? And if you’re not anxious about it, you’re not really paying attention (and I know you are).
I am certainly anxious, and as such, we have tweaked a few things at HQ to allow me to be more present around here. That means I will have more time to write! I will also be doing a regular newsletter and making myself more available for TV. I hate doing that shit, but people say I’m okay at it, and it is frustrating that certain ideas still have scant representation on the air. Regardless, I am thrilled at the opportunity to get back to a more public orientation. I’ll be giving you guys so much to get angry about! Well, at least until the convention. Then we can all get on the same page, no matter who our nominee is, and work our asses off to get rid of Trump and Mitch McConnell.
The end of the year also marks the end of an era at Daily Kos, as executive editor Susan Gardner is headed into retirement.
Susan is among my dearest friends, and the first person to shoulder some of the load of this site for me. She emerged from the community in 2005 as a contributing editor, or a diarist chosen to help provide weekend content for the site. I had been burning out from carrying the site on my own. I took a Saturday off, and I got an angry email from someone saying, “I thought this was the DAILY Kos!” But soon thereafter, I took off on a 40-city book tour promoting Crashing the Gate, and Susan pretty much took over the site (unpaid!) for almost two months.
The end result? Traffic grew during my absence. It was then I realized that 1.) I wasn’t that important to the site, and could and should trust others to help run the place, and 2). Susan was the person to be running stuff. So when it came time to make my first hires, there was no better option than Susan. She even lived a block away, while Will Rockafellow, the site’s president, lived two blocks away. The early Daily Kos “office” was whatever living room we landed in on any given day. Good times.
Susan isn’t leaving-leaving us. She gets “emeritus” status, which means she can stick around if she wants to continue sharing her advice and wisdom to the team. She’s on the board of our nonprofit c3 Prism. And after she has had some time to decompress, I may yet convince her to start writing again.
I have so much love and affection for Susan and her family, who are among my dearest and closest friends. We did some amazing stuff together, and I’m excited that she gets to enjoy a little more rest in retirement.
I haven’t written much about Prism, as it is in the process of staffing up, but I am beyond excited about what we’re building. This is what the organization is about: “The non-white population in the U.S. is nearly 40 percent and growing, and yet people of color make up only 20 percent of Congress. If we are going to solve the problems facing our community then we need leaders who truly reflect the people they serve, and whose life experiences mirror those of their communities. That’s why we are building a Reflective Democracy. By amplifying the stories and voices of people from diverse communities, we’re challenging long-held ideas about who is a leader and what issues are important, moving us closer to a democracy that actually reflects America.”
As such, Prism is assembling an all-star cadre of writers of color to cover those stories ignored by a traditional media seemingly obsessed with tracking white rural Trump voters above all else. Note that while Prism will use Daily Kos as a publishing platform, we don’t have (nor want) exclusive use of their content. If you are a publisher, you are free to republish any Prism article. The greater the reach of those stories, the closer we are to achieving our mission. Prism is also on the continued lookout for writers who can help it fulfill its mission. If you think you qualify, please don’t be shy about pitching or applying.
Thank you all for an amazing 2019, an amazing decade, and an amazing 18 years of helping me build what Daily Kos has become. I can’t wait to head into electoral battle, shoulder-to-shoulder with you all, as we reclaim our country next year from the corrupt, cruel, and contemptuous Republican Party.
Have a wonderful holiday season.