Alexander's Column

From The Federalist to The Patriot Post

The Journal of American Liberty

On Constitution Day of each year, we observe the launch anniversary of The Patriot Post. September 17th of 2016 marks our 20th in operation. We were the first, and thus now the oldest of conservative policy digests on the Web, and we owe that success to our fine editorial, technical and support staff, and to those who have supported this venture -- YOU fellow Patriots.

Mark Alexander · Jan. 1, 2016

A Retrospective on the Internet’s First Journal of Liberty

“Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them.” –Thomas Jefferson

On Constitution Day, September 17th of each year, we observe the 1996 launch anniversary of The Patriot Post on the Web. We are a young news and policy analysis organization, but the oldest of conservative policy digests on the Web. It is hard to believe that, back in 1996, there were only a handful of conservative organizations breaking ground in what was then, a “new medium.”

Rush Limbaugh was leading the conservative charge into talk radio and Fox News was charting new territory for conservative perspective on cable television, but Liberty was waiting on its Internet voice.

From our 1996 inception, with sage advice from conservative protagonists William F. Buckley (National Review, Emeritus), Ed Feulner (Heritage Foundation, Emeritus) and our National Advisory Committee, The Patriot has been steadfast in our mission advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values.

Our Internet influence was soon recognized by Harvard Political Review, which noted, “The Patriot Post is leading a surprisingly well-organized charge into the world of Internet politics.” And we continue to lead today, as noted by the current president of Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint: “With the best in conservative commentary and a tremendous wealth of historical resources, The Patriot Post sets the record straight, keeping Americans informed about what’s at stake in the political debates today.”

Thanks to our fellow Patriots across the nation, and our devoted team of editors, technical and creative staff, and support personnel, The Patriot Post has grown from its humble beginnings into a highly acclaimed touchstone of Liberty for conservative leaders across our nation, and the leading online resource for First Principles.

Our objective remains to equip the current generation of American Patriots with the right information to more effectively “Support and Defend” the unalienable Rights of Man, as enumerated in our Declaration of Independence, and codified by the Rule of Law enshrined in our Republic’s Constitution. Since our first day in circulation, The Patriot has been an indispensable resource for the force multipliers in our ranks, who have enlisted many others to the eternal cause of Liberty.

The Patriot Post frames current political and policy issues in the correct constitutionally constructionist context established by our Founders and supported today by the plurality of Americans who uphold the most basic tenet of our Republic: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” As our friend Cal Thomas noted, “The Patriot Post interprets current issues in the conservative context of history.”

In every year since 1996, The Patriot’s mission and operations budget has been sustained entirely by voluntary financial support from Patriots like you. We are not sustained by any political, special interest or parent organization, and we do not accept advertising in order that our editorial content remains free from commercial influence.

Many of our young readers don’t remember a time when the Internet didn’t exist, when Facebook, Twitter, texting and smart phones were not the primary means of communication, and entertainment was not streamed to a laptop or loaded on an iPod. A few decades ago when I was their age, completing an essay as an undergraduate student involved going to a library, searching though actual card files to locate actual books I needed for research.

Of course writing that essay also involved word processing, but the software I used was handwritten 3x5 cards rearranged on a large table until I was satisfied with the order – at which point I could begin typing that essay on a modern Smith Corona with electric keys. (Thank goodness for White Out correction fluid.)

Information creation, management and dissemination have changed dramatically in the last two decades. As we approached our 10th anniversary, many readers asked me, in my capacity as The Patriot Post‘s publisher, to write an essay about our inception and how we attained our success. I did just that, but before sharing that retrospective, I should highlight some of the major initiatives we have completed in the last five years since our 10th.

For any Internet-based operation, currency is king, not only the legal tender variety our fellow Patriots donate, but staying current in every aspect of what we do and how we do it. We have been very successful in maintaining currency because we have outstanding team of very bright and capable Patriots.

But more important is the currency of our mission, and we remain well ahead of the curve in regard qualifying and quantifying threats to Liberty, and providing strategic solutions to render those threats neutral. To that end, our Daily Digest provides exceptional analytical coverage of current news and policy, along with quick-reading Right Hook posts, and both distinguish The Patriot Post from the ubiquitous political opinion emanating from inside the Beltway and elsewhere across the Web. Of course, our editors also provide in every edition, our Top Headlines Review and the best selection of conservative columnists in our Right Opinion section. These featured resources are supplemented each week by our outstanding Humor Edition published Monday afternoon, and my own column, published on Wednesday afternoon.

We also offer one of the most comprehensive Historic Document collections available on the Web, along with many other resources. Additionally, we now offer high quality products for great prices at The Patriot Shop. All purchases promote our Mission of Service to America’s Military Patriots and their families.

In 2005, we launched The Patriot Foundation Trust, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational trust supporting Essential Liberty, the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and the promotion of free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. Our objective is to restore the Principles of Liberty enshrined by our Founders in our Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.

In 2008, we launched The Essential Liberty Project, a grassroots enterprise to support the restoration of constitutional integrity. We have distributed millions of Essential Liberty Guides as a primer on the origin of Liberty and the foundation of our Republic.

We also launched the Patriot Declaration – a “Declaration of Cause and Necessity” which stands on its own as an timeless touchstone of Liberty, a resolution of intent and due notice for those who would abandon their oath to “Support and Defend the Constitution” and abuse their office to the detriment of individual Liberty and states rights. It serves as an outline of solutions to the current constitutional crisis.

These initiatives and our continued success are the result of the voluntary support of the Patriot’s Annual Fund. Freedom is not free…

From humble beginnings

The Patriot Post was conceived as The Federalist back in 1996, (though I had published policy papers as The Federalist Perspective since 1981). We experienced immediate success, inspiring this assessment from the Harvard Political Review: “The Patriot Post is leading a surprisingly well-organized charge into the world of Internet politics.”

The Federalist owed its name to The Federalist Papers – a collection of 85 essays written in 1787 by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. These essays made the case for the ratification of our national Constitution.

Given that Madison drafted our Constitution, it’s fair to say that The Federalist Papers were, and remain, our Constitution’s most accurate explication. It is for this reason that we turn to them regularly in order to interpret correctly the document which made us a Republic – a nation of laws, not men – in defense of which so many have died.

The Federalist Papers were published under the pseudonym “Publius” in order that the ideas they expressed would be central, rather than the personalities who authored them. Accordingly, each part of our weekly editions – the Brief, Chronicle and Digest – note Publius as the author at the end of each publication.

Soon after we began publishing on the Internet, some readers expressed puzzlement as to why we chose “Federalist” for our name. As they correctly noted, the original papers argued for a strong central government, and constitutional conservatives today argue against government centralization and growth. The answer to this question really clarifies our mission.

In brief, we believe, as did our Founders, that the role for our central government, as defined by the Constitution and outlined in The Federalist Papers in 1787, was and remains the correct role. But our Constitution was grossly violated during the 20th century by both political opportunists and judicial activists. These forces progressively eroded constitutional limits on central government power – especially those outlined in the Bill of Rights – under the egregious assumption that this venerable document is a so-called “Living Constitution.”

It is for this reason that we have advocated, above all else, the return of constitutional constructionists to the Supreme Court – and we are but one justice away from a constructionist majority right now.

Though we adopted “Federalist” as our name, we know, consistent with our Statement of Principles and our Statement of Faith, that individual Liberty, the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and the promotion of free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values can be secured only through the exercise of individual rights and responsibilities as ordained by God and established by our nation’s Founders in our Declaration of Independence and its subordinate guidance, our Republic’s Constitution.

Indeed, when James Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson in the year of the Declaration’s 50th anniversary, he wrote of its supremacy over our nation’s Constitution: “On the distinctive principles of the Government … of the U. States, the best guides are to be found in … The Declaration of Independence, as the fundamental Act of Union of these States.”

When we launched The Federalist, our mission was to provide grassroots activists, those who embody the spirit and tenacity of our Founders, with much-needed perspective and analysis in a concise weekly format that was unavailable in any other medium. We chose to be an Internet-based journal because we knew this to be the fastest and least expensive means of publishing for a very large readership.

Then, as today, our national editorial team produced a hard-hitting rebuttal to contemporary political, social and mainstream-media protagonists on the Left, written for those who seek a brief, informative and entertaining analysis of the week’s most significant news, policy and opinion. The result was a comprehensive synopsis of reliable information drawn from reputable media, research and advocacy organizations.

As is the case with most entrepreneurial enterprises, our first few years of operation were characterized mostly by long hours (read: sleep deprivation) and financial challenges. But we persevered, as did our families. In the years that followed, our readership grew much faster than we anticipated, and, fortunately, our donor support kept pace so we could add editors and staff.

We did not, however, attain this success by following a conventional business model for publishing. In fact, though our business practices are very much refined, our business model is unique. Though ours is a “for-profit” enterprise, we are donor based, operating on a not-for-profit ministry model. We elected for-profit corporate status to prevent the IRS from dictating limits on the editorial content of our publications. But we chose to depend solely on donations from our Patriot readers so that we could offer our publication free of charge to students, military personnel and those in the mission field.

For profit we may be, but none of us are motivated by personal gain. Rather, our team is wholly motivated by mission.

As our long-term readers know, we are not sustained by any political, special-interest or parent organization, nor do we accept any online or e-mail advertising. However, thanks to the voluntary support of our readers, we have operated in the black since our inception.

Clearly, our success hasn’t come by promoting views that comport with pop conservatism. In fact, we regularly confront those views, and, consequently, we have to remind some readers that we are not an instrument of any political party. Instead, our readership has grown because we dependably interpret news and policy from a constitutional constructionist perspective, and because we provide analysis consistent with that interpretation.

Perhaps the greatest unforeseen benefit of publishing to a national audience by way of the Internet was that out of our readership would arise the majority of our editors and staff and notable members of our National Advisory Committee. These are men and women who, from coast to coast, bring to our team impeccable professional, academic and military credentials.

Though the content of The Federalist has, since its inception, remained steadfastly loyal to our Founders’ vision, our publication has undergone one very notable change: its name. The Federalist became The Federalist Patriot a few years back, with the longer-term objective of dropping “Federalist” entirely before becoming The Patriot Post.

This change, however, wasn’t due to reader confusion over the meaning of federalism. It came about because we were accused of creating confusion between our organization and one with 25,000 lawyers – The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. While we support the latter’s mission and know many outstanding members of this organization, its Beltway society managers were chagrined to find that when the word “Federalist” was mentioned, more people were thinking of us than them.

The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back came when my colleague, John Leo, then a nationally syndicated columnist, quoted The Federalist extensively in one of his columns back in 2003, but mistakenly cited “The Federalist Society” as the source for those quotes. John apologized, indicating he clearly knew the difference, but the Federalist Society was not amused. So they did what any self-respecting organization of lawyers would do: They sent their best trade- and service-mark attorneys after our Federalist mark.

Though our lawyers believed that we had a strong defense and would prevail, their lawyers were providing unlimited services at reduced (read: free) rates and undoubtedly were prepared to subject us to appeals. Consequently, determining that defending our mark would not constitute good stewardship of our donor revenues, we elected to abandon our mark.

Some have suggested that the action taken by the Federalist Society’s managers was hypocritical – that it amounted to “extortion by tort” which most Society members find so repugnant; but we harbor no bitterness…

As all good entrepreneurial business practitioners know, every crisis affords opportunity if one looks hard enough. Changing our name after so much branding as The Federalist was difficult, but transitioning to The Patriot Post in 2006 has served us well.

Though our target readership was, and remains, grassroots activists from the heartland, our readers today include high-level policymakers in the executive and legislative branches who hunger for a perspective beyond the ubiquitous claptrap inside the Beltway. We have thousands of readers who are leaders in state and local government, key thinkers in the community of conservative research and academic policy organizations and thousands more who are state, county and district political coordinators.

On any given day, commentary and analysis from The Patriot Post is the subject of national talk-radio outlets, and we are quoted in speeches delivered by candidates and national leaders. Consistent with our mission, we welcome the broad dissemination of analysis outlined in our publications.

Most important, however, we continue to be a primary news source for thousands of military personnel, students and missionaries around the world.

Today, The Patriot Post is the Internet’s “Voice of Essential Liberty” for the conservative revolution inspired by Ronald Reagan, whose Executive Order on Federalism serves as a touchstone for the proper role of the central government. We are, thus, eternally indebted to Ronald Reagan and all those Patriots whose sacrifices ensure that we are still able to exercise our First Amendment rights as a publication. We are also indebted to those who, subsequently, have renewed their commitment to our founding principles.

We remain in the lead because we have never wavered in our steadfast advocacy of Essential Liberty and our nation’s First Principles, which codified Rule of Law. Our mission is more critical now than ever.

Our readers are Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and public servants standing in harm’s way at home and around the world, who are loyal, first and foremost, to your revered oath to “support and defend” our Constitution.

You are mothers, fathers and other family members nurturing the next generation of young Patriots.

You are grassroots leaders and local, state and national officeholders who, likewise, honor our sacred oath. You are farmers, craftsmen, tradesmen and industrial producers. You are small business owners, service providers and professionals in medicine and law. You are employees and employers. You are in ministry at home and missionaries abroad. You are students and professors at colleges and universities, often standing alone for what is good and right.

You are consumers and taxpayers … and voters.

You are American Patriots, sons and daughters from all walks of life, heirs to the blessings of Liberty bequeathed to us at great personal cost by our Patriot forebears, confirmed in the opinion that it is our duty to God and Country to extend that blessing to our posterity, and avowed upon your sacred honor to that end.

You “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

You are vigilant, strong, prepared and faithful.

Throughout history the burden of keeping the flame of Liberty bright has fallen on the shoulders of a few men and women. In difficult times, let us recall the words of Founding Patriot Samuel Adams: “Let us consider, brethren, we are struggling for our best birthrights and inheritance… Let us disappoint the Men who are raising themselves on the ruin of this Country.” Thank you for joining us in this defense!

Recall these words from George Washington in one of the darkest moments of the American Revolution: “We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times.”

Gen. Washington declared, “Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” Indeed, and it is that charge which The Patriot Post advances every day.

On behalf of our editorial staff and National Advisory Board, we thank you for allowing us to serve you, and we’re humbled to count you among our Patriot ranks. Rest assured that our mission and operations will always reflect our motto: Veritas vos Liberabit – the truth will set you free (John 8:32).