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Troy Senik on What Ricochet Means to All of Us

Troy and I exchanged a few emails this morning–just routine matters about who might be posting later in the day, topics that might prompt good conversations, and so on. My fellow White House speechwriter–as you’ll recall, Troy wrote for Dubya, just as, an even 20 years earlier, I wrote for the Gipper– closed our exchange with a couple of paragraphs at once so lovely and so powerful that I’d like to share them:

Re: this weekend, it has been tough sledding, though I’m glad to hear things are potentially looking up. One thought to keep in mind, though: We can spend our lives writing presidential speeches (which — the good ones, anyway — matter greatly) or penning op-eds (which matter a little), but I hope you, Rob, and George Savage have paused for a moment in this maelstrom to consider the fact that what you’ve created here may, in some respects, be your most meaningful professional accomplishment (well, maybe not Dr. Savage — in his day job, after all, he saves lives). 

You set out to start a conversation. Instead, you started a family. The bonds of affection run so deep on the site that we basically had a virtual wake for a member of Ricochet this weekend because we’d all come to love Kennedy Smith. That’s something to be proud of. When everyone was hand-wringing about how the internet would isolate us, you guys came up with something that actually brought strangers closer together. And in that way, you’ve contributed your bit to human flourishing. I’d be proud.

I can’t thank you enough, Troy. Honestly, I can’t. And I am proud.

  1. Yeah...ok.

    In that photo, Troy looks like he just got away with cheating on his taxes.

  2. Troy Senik, Ed.
    Yeah…ok.: In that photo, Troy looks like he just got away with cheating on his taxes. · 2 minutes ago

    It’s not cheating if you don’t pay to begin with.

  3. Whiskey Sam
    Yeah…ok.: In that photo, Troy looks like he just got away with cheating on his taxes. · 19 minutes ago

    And here I was wondering why Peter had added a picture of Carlton Lassiter from Psych to his post.

  4. Whiskey Sam

    Kidding aside, Troy is dead on with what he said about Riocochet.

  5. Yeah...ok.
    Whiskey Sam

    Yeah…ok.: In that photo, Troy looks like he just got away with cheating on his taxes. · 19 minutes ago

    And hear I was wondering why Peter had added a picture of Carlton Lassiter from Psych to his post. · 0 minutes ago

    I thought Snidely Whiplash.

  6. Percival
    Yeah…ok.

    Whiskey Sam

    Yeah…ok.: In that photo, Troy looks like he just got away with cheating on his taxes. · 19 minutes ago

    And hear I was wondering why Peter had added a picture of Carlton Lassiter from Psych to his post. · 0 minutes ago

    I thought Snidely Whiplash. · 2 minutes ago

    Needs a mustache.  And the hat.

  7. flownover

    Absolutely, thanks for the friends .

    It’s a fine club with high standards. (thanks to the CoC)

    And the members goad each other to be intelligent . (see above)

    And the editors challenge us to craft a message that stand next to theirs, however tall . ( Regrettable Food is the iron fist in the kitschy glove that I fear)

    Thank you Ricofounders . 

  8. Scott R

    Something did seem meaningful in the passing of Kennedy and the outpouring here just as all our minds were being concentrated by the possible demise of Ricochet. Troy captured why. 

  9. Aaron Miller

    Agreed. Ricochet is an admirable community. Now, allow me to temper your enthusiasm with a dash of realism.

    First, some of us have been participating in online communities for many years now, and Ricochet is not unique in the closeness of its members. I have witnessed similar connections on many free forums devoted to content not half so serious. I have seen spontaneous charities, such as the one for Linda’s van. I have seen virtual wakes after the death of a member.

    What makes Ricochet unique is that we are united politically. We are not just friends and associates, but allies in a very serious struggle.

    Second, Ricochet’s management would be foolish to assume that the recent uptick in membership will persist long past the present cry for help. Ricochet’s business model still needs reconsideration even if you gain enough members this month to endure for another year.

  10. Spin

    Hear hear…

  11. GingerB

    Would it help if I joined twice?  

  12. Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    Touching, truly. (On the other hand, no one has yet responded to my e-mail to info@ricochet regarding investors — albeit very small-scale investors.)

    And I’d like to add that Troy looks like he’s wearing eyeliner in that photo.

  13. Tom Lindholtz

    That is really the only reason I’m still here.  Politics is an important facet of life.  But it is a facet, not life itself.  Ricochet started as a one-faceted stone, but the place you built has turned it into much more.  The politics waxes and wanes, and thus is an unreliable foundation for a “business”.  But by making it possible for relationships to flourish, you have created something of far greater import.  I hope it will remain commercially feasible.

    I read that you’ve eschewed turning to foundations, etc.  I can understand that rationale, but offer a contrary perspective.  If there is any hope for conservatism to be restored, I’d argue it will be restored “relationally”.  The Founders may originally not have all known each other, coming, as they did from disparate locales.  But by the time they’d signed away their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor”, they were relationally connected.  In our more complex age, it may be that entities like Ricochet are more important than you can imagine to the future of conservatism.  Perhaps even more important than funding some enterprise of institute.

  14. Keith Preston
    Tom Lindholtz: 

    I read that you’ve eschewed turning to foundations, etc.  I can understand that rationale, but offer a contrary perspective.  If there is any hope for conservatism to be restored, I’d argue it will be restored “relationally”.  The Founders may originally not have all known each other, coming, as they did from disparate locales.  But by the time they’d signed away their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor”, they were relationally connected.  In our more complex age, it may be that entities like Ricochet are more important than you can imagine to the future of conservatism.  Perhaps even more important than funding some enterprise of institute. · 11 hours ago

    yes.  The “no turning back” moment in the American Revolution was the foundation of the Sons of Liberty and the Committees of Correspondence.  Were they “foundations?”  I think we shouldn’t be so restrictively “principled.”

  15. Jim Chase
    Whiskey Sam

    Yeah…ok.: In that photo, Troy looks like he just got away with cheating on his taxes. · 19 minutes ago

    And here I was wondering why Peter had added a picture of Carlton Lassiter from Psych to his post. · 2 hours ago

    Edited 2 hours ago

    That was my first reaction to the photo, too, WS.

    In all seriousness though, Troy’s on the mark, and his observation is well stated.  I’m already on record for my appreciation of this community we have here.  No matter what happens, I’m the richer for it.

  16. Doctor Bean

    Well said.

    Would this be a good time to beg for more “Young Guns” podcasts, or have they disappeared for good?

  17. rosegarden sj dad

    I love ricochet and it takes up way too much of my time. And I, too, am sad about possible demise. As a marketing exec who’s worked for far too many online community sites, I feel the founder’s pain. Setting the ‘civil’ parameter in the business model decreases eyeballs by an order of magnitude, and the question is: can you make that up with increased membership prices? And does that drive away your contributors when you decrease eyeballs. 

    I have no easy answers, there are smart guys running this shop and they’re running up against many of the issues we’ve all run into before.  Great product, high quality, but will people pay for it? That’s the question.

  18. Robert Dammers

    Now I get it – cash flow.  So I renewed five months early (I was just being selfish trying to reduce the length of time I had two subs to NR Digital).

    The thing is, one can feel tremendously engaged in the community even if one contributes only occasionally (time zones mean that I often find that someone else has said what I would have said by the time I have time to say it :) ).  I listen most podcasts assiduously (some flagships on multiple occasions – its the nearest thing to a Bleatcast Lileks is still doing), and one ends up referring to Rob, Peter, James, Jonah and so on as if they were people with whom one spoke every week.  Which is what it feels like, in a totally non-creepy way, honest.

    I’m slightly concerned about the scalability of the enterprise, though.  Will the community still function at 10K plus members?  Will it segment and lose the familiarity which is such a pleasure at present?  That says to me that changes should be incremental and organic (which is why going from 1% to 2% rather than 10% us a good goal) rather than revolutionary. We are, after all, conservatives.

  19. Jimmy Carter

    A few have mentioned that if We never had opposing opinions Here, then We’re just “preaching to the choir.” Well, I have a different perspective:

    In My world, Family and Friends are simply politically apathetic. Conversations wind up with Me speaking and Them nodding agreeably. So, to a junkie such as Me it’s equivalent to a mathematician discussing 2+2 all day.

    To Me Ricochet is the political Family and Friends I never had. Ricochet is a Life, evidence that I’m not the only One Who has such thoughts or sees such things, articulated in words I can’t.

    I start My morning and end My evening with Ricochet.

    Thank You, RicoFounders.

    Besides…. where else could I go to get “[redacted][?]”