Today would have been Andrew Breitbart’s 44th birthday; he passed away last year on March 1, 2012.
I think there’s another facet of his experience that we ought to appreciate on his birthday.
Andrew spoke often of his conversion from living a life outside of the political world to one completely immersed in it. He wasn’t like some of us who have been grinding against the establishment left (and right) since the beginning. Rather, he had an “awakening,” much as many of the Tea Party activists did, and entered into the world of politics.
One of my favorite memories was when I traveled with him in April 2011 in the “Bloggers Flotilla for Peace II,” as we called our caravan of cars driving up to Madison, Wisc., to a Tea Party rally held during the height of the anti-Walker protests. We picked Andrew up at the airport in Milwaukee and made our way to the Capitol building where he was due to introduce Sarah Palin.
While we were waiting for the rally to begin, Andrew came up to me with a twinkle in his eye, wondering if I thought a certain joke he had in mind was as funny as he thought it was, and if he should tell it to Governor Palin when he met her. It was the first time he would meet Palin in person, and he was excited and nervous. As I recall, Palin was wearing a particularly shiny silver suit (see at 5:30 in this video), and he had an astronaut joke in mind. He opted not to say it.
It was particularly freezing as he addressed the enormous crowd that had gathered on the Madison Capitol lawn. He told the people there that they were “the most peaceful, law-abiding, clean-up-after-themselves group in the history of the American protest.” He addressed the power of big labor and Trumka in particular, saying, “Go to Hell. No, serious. Go to hell. Go to hell.”
He introduced Palin, “The reason why they hate Sarah Palin isn’t because of her human flaws, it’s because of how effective she’s been at calling out the Community-Organizer-in-Chief Barack Obama.”
On the whole car ride down to Chicago, he kept turning to us and asking, “was that ok that I said ‘go to Hell?'” Then, he would smile and say, “I had to say it.” It seemed like a perfect example of the challenge he faced of maintaining his genial temperament whilst in the middle of a war.
Here was a charming, likable man faced with taking on the institutional left and the media that protects them. How does a wonderfully nice person go about fighting what he (I agree) thinks is the ultimate threat to freedom and justice not just in America but around the world?
So many more of our friends and family will be like him in the next 10, 20, or 30 years. People who are aren’t the typical political junkies, but (no offense to the rest of us), are the normal Americans who have been staying out of it, living their lives.
I spoke with a friend of mine, a sort of political historian, who believes that our country may be in for some of the darkest times it has seen since–and even surpassing–those of the Civil War. But, he thinks, what we’ll find is that the doctors, lawyers, stay-at-home-moms, mechanics, investment bankers, accountants–all those who have been living their lives, will reenter the political arena during these time, just as Andrew did.
The wealth-creators of today who are not involved in politics will enter into politics because they’ll have to. And with their help, we will be able to take on the myth that progressivism is the dominant culture in America.
Andrew sent a jolt of lightning into politics, partly because he wasn’t part of the Capitol Hill blue-blazered, Senate-bean-soup-eating professional political class. He never got much into the “game” of politics, who was next in line, etc., but took a more macro, fresh look. Because he trusted the American people to make the right decisions, he instead wanted to reform the way information gets to the American people: the media.
If you haven’t seen Hating Breitbart yet, try to get your hands on a copy. It exceeded my expectations in showing not just Andrew the man, but describing his mission and the elements coalescing to exclude warriors like him.
It would be a fitting tribute to Andrew to incorporate his “happy warrior” disposition, which was essentially powered by an abiding hope in the American people, even as we fight on, as he did. If we have more Andrew Breitbarts entering the fray, then that is reason enough to look upon our fight and our future with a smile.