Erick Erickson’s Struggles

The erstwhile Republican firebrand and current NeverTrumper shares his personal struggles.


Erick Erickson has a rather remarkable post at his newish site, The Resurgent.  It begins:

In April I went into the hospital and stayed there a week. Subsequently, I have gone back numerous times. In fact, I have spent more time in the hospital this year than all the rest of my life combined. My lungs were filling with clots and I could barely breath. By the time I got admitted, my blood-oxygen level was below 90%. While I was there, doctors found a tumor in my wife’s right lung. In June, she had it removed and on the day of surgery the doctors found a new growth on her left lung. The one was removed on a Tuesday and the other that Friday. My wife, it turns out, has a very uncommon form of lung cancer that only affects non-smoking women.

This has been a year. It started with angry Trump supporters showing up at our home and at my office. It continued with angry people harassing my advertisers and station. And while the professional toll has been something to behold, it is nothing compared to the personal struggles my wife and I have had to deal with this year and will now continue to deal with.

For the first time we have had to actually dwell on the possibility that we could leave our children in the world without us long before any parent should have to depart. Between the weight of this political season and the struggles of health, I have spent a lot of time thinking. If my wife and I were to die, what would we want our children to know. What would we leave them with? And honestly, it is hard to separate the struggles of this year from each other. It envelops my thinking.

The rest, about struggles between his faith and his politics and between his politics and his livelihood, is well worth reading. It’s unlikely to be read with much sympathy from opponents who blame him for his part in coarsening the American political debate. But that’s a pity.

I don’t know Erick particularly well but met him a couple times at CPAC and similar gatherings in the early days of our blogging ventures, a decade or more ago now. I found him smart and likable.

Over time, our politics and tone diverged. He rose to the head of the RedState empire whereas I remained an independent. While I was always openly partisan, even in the earliest days of the site—which coincided with the most bitter part of the Iraq War fight—I was always an analyst first and a politico second. Partly because of my academic training and partly because of the relative smallness of my platform, it never occurred to me to slant my commentary for the good of a greater cause. RedState, by contrast, was conceived of as a Republican answer to Daily Kos and other community sites on the left. As it and Erick became more prominent, he also became a radio host, including filling in on Rush Limbaugh’s show occasionally; a regular paid television commentator; and even a local politician.

The pressure to become more outrageous and less nuanced was naturally very intense; few resist it and fewer still do so while maintaining a major player on the national stage. While he’s of course responsible for his choices in that regard, I certainly understand them.

I don’t share Erick’s religious faith but hope it comforts him and his family while they go through this struggle. I hope fervently that he and his wife recover quickly and fully from their ailments and that they can see their children mature into adults and enjoy their grandchildren.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. C. Clavin says:

    I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
    But the fact that he, especially while claiming to be a christian, would gladly deny similar care to the less fortunate tempers my sympathy somewhat.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    As a 62 year old man with kids I of course sympathize with his concerns.

    Aside from that, we have here a man with a shovel in his hands, and dirt on his clothing, standing at the bottom of a hole whining, “How did this happen?”

  3. barbintheboonies says:

    I would be a liar if I said I did not wish this on some radio talk show host`s. I never heard of this guy, but reading this story makes me sad. Sometimes facing mortality opens your eyes to what is right and what is very wrong.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:

    It’s axiomatic of Republicans that they are incapable of sympathy with anyone not directly related. It’s a working definition of a Republican: gives zero sh!ts about anyone but himself and his family.

    I’ve always thought the essential thing lacking in conservatives is imagination. Imagination is the underpinning of empathy, an emotion unknown to conservatives. It’s why there are almost no conservatives in the creative fields. They have a hole in their brains where healthy people keep imagination.

  5. dxq says:

    Dear Erick–you spent hours, days, weeks, months, years of your life trying to make sure that poor people couldn’t get the health care you’ve been using. Now you’re sad because even with those services, you might not have enough time left with your kids?

    I’ll stop talking right there.

  6. Chip Daniels says:

    I think its axiomatic that as we mature, we become more aware of our mortality and frailty, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

    There are several ways of adjusting to this.

    For many, it is a growing empathy and understanding of others, an awareness of our connectedness and interdependence.

    And for many, this translates into an appreciation for societal norms and public policies that provide support, physical and financial, for those who struggle.

    It would be nice to think that Erickson will develop in a similar fashion.

  7. al-Alameda says:

    I wish Erick and his family only the best.

    Maybe this transformative experience will cause him to see healthcare and our very basic human condition in a new and different way?

  8. Franklin says:

    I hope his and his wife’s health recover.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    I would not wish the Ericksons’ health issues on anyone. They have my sympathy. As I’ve noted before in these threads, most conservatives of my acquaintance are good people, devoted spouses and parents, generous, and honest until they get into politics. The small company I retired from were mostly Tea Party types and I’d have loaned any of them a hundred on their word. Conservatives are mostly good people who have been led into error by a party and movement whose core principles are such that hey have to deceive people.

    Although Erickson is Never Trump, he did a lot to create the swamp that spawned Trump. Something to contemplate when commenters paint Trump as something mainstream Republicans created, not something that fell out of the sky on them. As for any personal or professional injury Erickson has suffered over Trump, bwhahahaha, payback’s a bitch.

  10. mannning says:

    I wish Eric and his wife a speedy recovery.


  11. Peterh says:

    I believe Lee Atwater had his moment of clarity….on his deathbed….I’ll just leave it there….

  12. Patrick says:

    Karma’s a real bitch. Just sayin’

  13. Jay Gischer says:

    I am a Democrat and a liberal because of my empathy, not vice-versa. One of the experiences that shaped that empathy and concern for out groups was my experience with religion, evangelical Christian religion, of a form not all that different from the one that has shaped Erickson. We’ve certainly taken it in different directions, though.

    I’m certainly not about to withhold my empathy for him based on political affiliation, because for me, the empathy came first anyway.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    His is a very tough situation. Whatever I think about him politically doesn’t really enter into it. He and his wife have my sympathies and well wishes.

  15. I hope fervently that he and his wife recover quickly and fully from their ailments and that they can see their children mature into adults and enjoy their grandchildren.

    Agreed. There’s a time and a place for arguments over what are ultimately in the grand scheme of things petty political disagreements. This isn’t one of them.

  16. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Not according to Ed Rollins:

    [Atwater] was telling this story about how a Living Bible was what was giving him faith and I said to Mary (Matalin), ‘I really, sincerely hope that he found peace.’ She said, ‘Ed, when we were cleaning up his things afterwards, the Bible was still wrapped in the cellophane and had never been taken out of the package,’ which just told you everything there was. He was spinning right to the end

    That said, I don’t wish evil on anyone, even evil people. I hope his family makes it through these trials.

  17. Laurence Bachmann says:

    @michael reynolds: “I of course sympathize with his concerns” and then you go on to negate the sympathy. Why bother to say anything? You needn’t express an opinion about everything.

  18. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It’s why there are almost no conservatives in the creative fields.

    Oddly enough one of the most creative and talented people I’ve ever worked with is a staunch Republican. We have gotten into screaming matches and had to leave the room to cool down. And yet I’m proud to say he won’t be voting for Trump.

  19. C. Clavin says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    petty political disagreements

    Sorry…denying quality health care to people is NOT a petty political disagreement.
    And pretending to be a christian, while doing the same, speaks to the mans character, not his politics.

  20. michael reynolds says:

    @Laurence Bachmann:

    Oh what horsepoop.

    I do not accept this absurd notion that I have to pretend not to know the evil a person has done just because they are having trouble in life. It’s nonsense. Was I supposed to feel sorry for Osama having to be hidden away in a compound and flinching every time he heard a plane? If Kim Jong Un gets sick shall I send him a Get Well Soon card? If Assad drops dead do I have to spend the first 24 hours talking about all his good qualities?

    It’s superstitious nonsense on a level with knocking wood. Erickson is a nasty political cheap shot artist. I am genuinely sympathetic with his health and family stuff, but I am actually capable of holding two thoughts in my head at once:

    1) I have a family, I worry about health and kids and understand that it can be terribly hard to bear.
    2) Erickson is a dick.

    It’s a feature of liberals that we can sympathize even with people we despise. It’s called empathy. But empathy does not require dishonesty. And if Erickson doesn’t want people to think he’s a dick he should try not being a dick.

  21. Peterh says:


    Well….that burst the little respect that I had for him….thanks…I think….

  22. DrDaveT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    what are ultimately in the grand scheme of things petty political disagreements

    No. They are petty political disagreements for affluent white boys like you and me with the leisure and insulation to treat it all as theory and principle. For the people at the pointy end of the stick, it’s no access to health care and no way to earn a decent living and recurring sexual harassment and maybe getting shot by a police officer who was frightened by your skin tone and maybe losing your legs and/or your mental health by getting shipped off to a stupid war that someone lied us into as part of their “petty political disagreement”.

  23. Laurence Bachmann says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I repeat: you needn’t express an opinion about everything. Particularly since yours are rarely interesting, usually tediously smug and always bursting with self-congratulation. We get that you think you’re really great, and really, really smart, and really, really, really better than most other people. It’s clear in your endless postings.

    Which leads to my next suggestion….why not start your own blog instead of permanently parking yourself on Joyner’s site? He was expressing support and condolences to a colleague and fellow blogger: it would be nice not to be embarrassed by people like you, but I guess he expects it to come with the territory.

    FYI, The concepts I’m trying to express are called restraint and courtesy. Try them some time. Parituclarly, the former. PLEASE!

  24. grumpy realist says:

    Erik Erickson has definitely gone through a personal journey, and I hope that he and his wife get better.

    On the other hand….geez Louise, couldn’t you have woken up earlier? I see no need for extra plaudits for someone finally discovering the moral responsibility involved in being adult..

  25. Kari Q says:

    My mother, also a non-smoker, developed lung cancer at a very young age. She was only 27 when diagnosed, and her greatest fear was that her children, my sister and I, would grow up without their mother. She was fortunate. She lived for several decades; long enough to see us graduate college, get married, see her grandchildren. Through the years, at every milestone of my life, I would think how lucky I was that she was alive to share it with me. After she died, I felt the loss, but her presence in all those moments became even more precious in my memories.

    To Eric and his wife, I wish their family similar good fortune. May their children go through life as aware of the blessing of having their parents alive to share the big moments in their lives, and may they not know the pain of losing them for a very long time.

  26. michael reynolds says:

    @Laurence Bachmann:

    If James wants me gone, I’m gone. He has my email.

    But you really aren’t going to manage to bully me through my laptop. And I’m not quite sure just who you think you speak for. Do you represent James? Have you been appointed as spokesman for every other reader? Or are you just a guy posting an obviously unnecessary opinion when you could start your own blog?

  27. stonetools says:

    I wish a speedy and complete recovery for him and his wife. No one deserves this kind of sickness. During this testing time, I hope that he will meditate on his role in fostering the kind of toxic conservatism that led to Trumpism. This is a man who referred to gentle, reclusive Supreme Court Justice David Souter as a goatf#cking child molester. That was the most notorious of the many bombs he threw, and thus paved the way for the politically incorrect, race baiting Republican Presidential nominee.
    So maybe he can go through this “Night of the Cross”( as he would describe it) and come out a more forgiving and reflective man. Let’s all hope so.

  28. JohnMcC says:

    What a rotten turn for him! Almost Job-like. I don’t hold any brief with his politics and have said nasty things about him in a political sense but have been aware that he’s on a faith-journey and have hoped that he would find a destination that blessed him and opened his heart. That hope is doubled now.

    Thank you for the news, Dr Joyner.

  29. Barry says:

    I have sympathy for his problems, and will refrain from criticisms.

    Thanks for keeping us informed.

  30. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    There’s a time and a place for arguments over what are ultimately in the grand scheme of things petty political disagreements.

    Um, no. The fact that those on the right want to deny health care and aid to the most vulnerable in society is not a “petty political disagreement” – in fact, if you’re at risk of dying or being maimed or losing your house because you can’t get medical care, there’s nothing petty about it at all. These arguments have real world consequences, life and death consequences, for millions of people. The fact that some people are so comfortable, and so unable in their comfort to see the needs of others, is a big part of the problem here.

  31. cian says:

    There’s a time and a place for arguments over what are ultimately in the grand scheme of things petty political disagreements.

    Jesus, Doug, tell that to the pre-ACA family who went bankrupt because their child’s leukemia was classified as a pre-existing condition. Sometimes your moral deafness is astounding and disturbing.

  32. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    There’s a time and a place for arguments over what are ultimately in the grand scheme of things petty political disagreements. This isn’t one of them.

    When a man who has spent a large part of the last decade trying to deny life-saving medical care to millions suddenly finds he needs it himself is, actually, exactly the time and place for this disagreement.

  33. An Interested Party says:

    Sometimes your moral deafness is astounding and disturbing.

    Well, he is a libertarian…

  34. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    How… compassionate.

    If you oppose Obamacare, which is already falling apart, then you deserve to get sick.

    If you oppose gay marriage, then you deserve to lose your job and deprived of your livelihood.

    If you question global warming, then you deserve to be silenced and, possibly, locked up. (Haven’t seen that one here, but it’s certainly been making the rounds.)

    How remarkable. The modern left has managed to transform itself into a proto-theocracy while keeping God out of the picture.

  35. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    STFU and go grab someone by the pussy.

    You don’t get to talk morality. It’s like Bernie Madoff teaching ethics.

  36. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @michael reynolds: Mickey, you’re the one who wants the law to enforce morality.

    As far as grabbing someone… your mother sends her regards.

  37. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    You’re a pig, just like your candidate. Thanks for making my point so effectively.

  38. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @michael reynolds: You toss around vulgarities like that, then call ME a pig?

    News flash, Mickey: you can’t criticize someone for using a vulgarity that you yourself use.

    News flash #2: I though the left was all about not using politics to enforce morality.

    But let’s take Trump’s words and apply some of the standard Clinton defenses this time:

    1) That’s all ancient history.

    2) We all knew what Trump was, so this is no big surprise.

    3) It’s just about sex, and what’s your obsession with sex?

    Even more to the point, nothing Trump said was worse than what Bill Clinton actually did, and Hillary’s role was in trying to destroy the women who caught her husband’s attention.

    You don’t even see the paradox, do you? You and yours spent so long denouncing those who wanted to use the law to impose their morality on everyone. Now it’s clear that it wasn’t a matter of principle, it was because you wanted to impose your morality on the rest of us.

    And your morality says that anyone who doesn’t support the same causes you do — and with sufficient enthusiasm and at the right time – is EVIL.

    I thought you were too sophisticated to think that simplistically, Mickey. Guess I was wrong.

  39. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    Oh my God, even you can’t be that stupid? You think this is about the word, “Pussy?”

    Go shoot yourself and raise the ambient IQ of the human race.

  40. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable: Trump bragged about committing sexual assault, dearie. That’s what this is all about.

    And his so-called “apologies” are nothing of the sort. It’s what a battering husband says to his wife after he has beaten her up: “sorry, but if you hadn’t provoked me I wouldn’t have done it.”

    Some apology.

  41. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable: Yes, you are, aren’t you?

  42. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @grumpy realist: I get it. You’re so upset about what Trump said, you have no choice but to support the woman who was in charge of destroying the lives of the women who were the (often unwilling) object of her husband’s affections. You poor dear. Can I get you a fainting couch?

    But back to the topic of sympathy and empathy, I think I understand your position here. If a woman finds herself the target of a man’s unwanted attention, you need to check his political credentials. If he’s sufficiently powerful and progressive, it’s the woman’s patriotic obligation to lie back and think of England. And hope that simple submission will suffice, and that he doesn’t have a vindictive wife who feels she needs to protect his political viability so she can promote her own political career.

    There’s progressive sisterhood for you.

  43. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    If you oppose rational thought and a fact-based world view, your name is probably Jenos

  44. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:


    Ah, so today you are “make up annoying names for other commenters” Jenos.

    Who will you be tomorrow? “Show respect for our hosts” Jenos?

    “Try to stay on topic” Jenos

    “Wildly off topic, name calling, infantile” Jenos?

    I’ve got an idea. Instead of all the various pathetic personas that you present, why not simply try to be a reasonably intelligent, reasonably grown up person who has something to offer beyond shrill commentary that is the blogging equivalent to getting your teeth drilled?

  45. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @anjin-san: Anyone who starts a conversation with me with “STFU” and other vulgarisms isn’t interested in substantive dialogue.

    One other sure indicator that the other party isn’t interested in substantive dialogue is when the other party is you.


  46. wr says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable: If anyone had any doubts of how much trouble Trump is in, look how pathetically Jenos is struggling to find a way to defend him. This assclown thinks George Zimmerman is a hero for shooting a black kid because he was carrying Skitttles and he can’t explain away Trump’s bragging about multiple sexual assaults.