The End of the Beginning
When we started this effort back in 2006, Barack was two months from announcing his candidacy, and Sarah Palin had just been sworn in as Governor of Alaska. I registered the domain name in mid-December, with only a vague idea of what to do next. As I waited to get inspired, I stuck a Republican elephant on the site's blank homepage, and figured that I had at least until the middle of 2007 to get things into gear.
About a week later, Ken emailed me. He figured I was just sitting on the site, and he wanted to buy it so he could begin creating an online resource for Republican Obama supporters. I declined the offer, but we agreed to work together to begin building this effort.
After a while, Barbara and a handful of others began showing up. Most users at that time would drop a comment or two and then move on, but I was not going to let that happen with Barbara. After weeks of my begging and promising her free reign to post whatever she wanted she finally agreed, and the quality of our daily content got an immediate upgrade. Shortly thereafter, Evan came on board, pitying our pitiful amateurish site and offering to revamp the entire operation.
The lean days of 2007 became even leaner as the summer wore on. The Navy called me up and sent me to Afghanistan, and Obama was still way behind Hillary in the polls. With Obama fighting for name recognition and our manpower down, RFO kept forging ahead, slowly climbing in the Google rankings and picking up members as they found us out there.
Then Iowa happened, as the rest is history.
When this effort began, we knew that there were Republicans out there who were just like us. We were disillusioned with how our party had been behaving during the Bush years, and we were sick of how political bickering had replaced an interest in working together for the common good. In Obama, we saw a candidate who spoke openly and passionately about putting our partisan divisions aside. Yes, we probably would have preferred that Obama were a Republican, but that was not going to stop us from giving him our support. Unfortunately, our party was not running an optimistic, intelligent, patriotic candidate who promised a new way of doing politics in our country.
There is no doubt that RFO has played a big part in this race. Like the thousands of other spontaneous, grassroots efforts getting behind Barack's candidacy, we've been an example of regular old (and young) Americans coming together to help shape the future of the nation. After all the votes are tallied next Tuesday night, we have no plans of stopping our efforts. Our party will need constructive, respectful venues for its members to share ideas, as we try to find our way back from the abyss. Barack will still need support from the passionate Republicans who have supported him throughout this campaign.
I like to remind those who call us traitors that we're the Republicans who have not left the party; that while millions of people leave the GOP each year, we're the ones who want to stay and help us rediscover our greatness. The two-party system may go under a little shake-up after this election, but it's not going away, and the Republican party itself is probably not going away. Over the next week and over the next eight years, there's still much we can do to help our party regenerate itself, as we help the Obama presidency be everything it can for America.