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I had been ranting for years before I signed up at Daily Kos. As my outrage grew at President George W. Bush and his administration's actions during his first term, I transformed from a quiet, studious, politically inactive person into someone who ranted. A lot. So I paid close attention for the first time ever during the 2004 presidential election campaign. And for the first time ever, I went to hear a presidential candidate, Senator Kerry, when he delivered a speech in Houston on Earth Day. For the first time ever, I bought and wore t-shirts and buttons for a presidential campaign and put a bumper sticker on my car. I was a huge supporter (it's okay--go ahead and laugh at me now).

What I read and heard in the mainstream media infuriated me as I recognized they were protecting their buddy in the White House and enabling the swiftboating of John Kerry. Every evening leading up to the 2004 election, I sat on my couch and monitored the news coverage, yelling at the television and launching throw pillows whenever someone made me really mad. For the first time ever, I sat down at my desk, with my cranky old desktop computer and dial-up connection, and wrote and sent emails calling out the tv news media for their biased coverage.

For the first time ever, I sat up to watch the election returns, having somehow deluded myself into believing that the American people wouldn't send that dangerously incompetent man back to the White House. Suffice it to say, I was stunned that it was even close and ultimately blamed the media for the outcome.

A few days after the election, President Bush then had the audacity to claim a mandate and went on to boast that he had earned political capital and planned to spend it. I thought my head was going to explode. Much to the dismay of my family and friends, I spent the next few years much as I had spent 2004. Ranting. Monitoring the mainstream media. Throwing things. Sending emails.

Fast-forward to the 2008 Democratic primaries. I watched the Democratic debates and eventually decided to support Senator Barack Obama's candidacy. I bought campaign t-shirts, buttons, and bumper stickers. I was an enthusiastic supporter who was planning to vote for the first time ever in a Democratic primary election.

For the first time ever, I donated to a political campaign. I also subscribed to OFA's email list and learned of the Texas Two-step's existence. So, for the first time ever, I attended our precinct caucus and was elected as an Obama delegate to our Senate District Convention, where the Obama delegates in our precinct took advantage of our chair's OFA training and managed to elect her as our precinct delegate despite being outnumbered by Clinton delegates in our caucus. See, even though Hillary Clinton had won the Texas primary, OFA had taught us how to win our caucuses, so Obama ended up with a greater number of delegates from Texas.

When Barack Obama accepted his party's nomination at the Democratic National Convention, I was so proud to have played a small role. Then John McCain announced his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, and I was shocked and angered by such a breathtakingly cynical ploy for women's votes. After Hurricane Ike struck Galveston and the Houston area that September, though, I had to devote most of my time and energy to my job when I returned to work 2 1/2 weeks later. So I donated a few more dollars and continued my previous pattern of yelling and throwing things, especially when the media covered Palin's remarks.

I anxiously watched the returns on election night and was elated when the media called the election for Barack Obama. Between that night and his inauguration, though, I saw the huge mess that President Bush and the Republicans were leaving, and knew that the early years of Obama's presidency would be spent cleaning that up.

Fast-forward to the disastrous 2010 elections. In Texas, the GOP maintained control of all statewide offices and ended up with a super-majority in the Texas House of Representatives, where they proceeded with one of their favorite hobbies here: gerrymandering. And what had I done in the time leading up to the 2010 election to elect Democrats? Practically nothing, even though I supported Mayor Bill White's campaign to unseat Governor Rick Perry. See, I was back to my old habits of mind, thinking that Texans wouldn't be dumb enough to re-elect Perry, even though the media had allowed him to get away with not debating White. Plus, no one had contacted me, and I didn't have confidence in my ability to help rather than to just waste organizers' and other volunteers' time.

In the following months, I finally began to focus on what I could do rather than on what others could or should be doing. My efforts to reform the tv news media had had no perceptible impact, so I decided there was no point in continuing to focus my attention on what they were doing. But I didn't know how to be an effective political activist, so I began to focus more attention on Daily Kos. During July 2011, I finally signed up here and planned to continue ranting among like-minded people. Eventually, though, I ended up posting my first diary during last December's impromptu gift subscription drive and found a community full of warm and wonderful people.

So here I am today, asking readers to consider spending $40 for a 1-year subscription for themselves, or to give a subscription to one of the kossacks in the list below, or to donate to the site. I'm doing this because I want to thank Daily Kos for everything this community has empowered me to do.

See, I came here to rant, but I've stayed because of the politics and the community. I've stayed because I went to Netroots Nation for the first time this year and learned so much. I've stayed because of series such as Black Kos, The Inoculation Project, Election Diary Rescue, and Obama Nightly News. I've stayed because I want to continue running New Diarists to help empower others on the left to be heard. And I've stayed because navajo is now helping us to find and organize kossacks in Texas.  

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