When I first saw the news of Andrew Breitbart’s death, upon opening my folder of “re-check all day” blogs and clicking the Big Journalism tab, I thought I misread it. Then, I thought maybe it was one of Mr. Breitbart’s jests, but my heart fell, knowing this would be much too serious a matter about which to joke, with a wife and young children involved.
Drudge didn’t have it right away, but other blogs did, and it began to sink in, and I felt an emptiness in the pit of my stomach. I knew immediately a great presence and leader had been taken from us, and the vicissitudes of the campaign season would be less easy to handle without Andrew to fight on our side.
Truly, a great and shining sword for the cause of conservatism in popular culture, the internet and social media has been forever sheathed.
There is no doubt Andrew was an honest man, a visionary, an outspoken and passionate defender of conservatism and by all accounts (of those who actually knew him, that is) a great and wonderful person. Contra what some bitter and mean-spirited lefties have said, the world is poorer without him.
That said, I was always of two minds about how much he actually advanced the conservative cause. Like Ann Coulter, he believed in taking the fight to the libs using their weapons and their terms. But I think the American public is smarter than most scribes, pundits, journalist or politicians, or even political junkies give them credit.
After being propagandized for decades by network and “public” media, nearly all the print, tv and cable sources, Hollywood, celebrities of all stripes, most historians and all of academia, in league with leftist elites on both coasts, we are still a center-right (and I think more right than center) country philosophically.
Americans still value freedom over government handouts traded for liberty. We still believe in self-determination and individual spirit over collectivism and the need for government to guide and protect, and therefore control, our lives.
Part of this is because Americans have come to discount the leftist attacks, calling people racists, ranting about global warming, demagoguing against Christians and spewing alarmist talk about a theocracy or a right-wing fascit take over of the government, or alternatively the grassroots rise of an armed right-wing militia, overthrowing Federal power and starting another American Revolution or civil war.
They don’t believe the constant claims Republicans are bigots, racists, homophobes, haters of the poor and evil, purposeful polluters of the planet. I think conservatives and the GOP get a certain amount of credit for not being the dirty hippie party, where we are just as uncivil, hateful and dishonest as the left (I do realize the irony of a blog which regularly attacks leftists in the most vulgar and asinine terms decrying the tone of anyone else’s rhetoric, but I’ll get to that in a minute, bear with me).
I think conservative commentators with large megaphones like Coulter and Breitbart have a responsibility to hold to a certain degree of civility and level of discourse to which the left refuses to adhere. It sets the right apart from the left. Just like the Tea Partiers eschewed violence, law-breaking and destroying venues at which they protested, the right has higher standards, which we should. Our ideals and our mores are superior to the left. Our belief in God and submission to the tenets of the many sects of his Church guide us on issues and how we pursue those political issues.
Breitbart, like Coulter, believes that the way to defeat the left’s advantage in controlling popular culture is to get down in the dirt and fight them with their own filth. An example, Andrew’s comments upon the death of Teddy Kennedy made me cringe, not only for their crassness, but for the light in which they painted conservatives. I knew his reaction would be posted far and wide as an example of conservative extremism and hatred.
Why does it even matter? Because the point of everything, all the posts and websites and protests and campaigns, and drives, and polls, and conventions and awards dinners and books and papers and everything we on the right do is: to win voters to our side.
We can’t do anything if we don’t win elections. To win elections, we must convince unaffiliated voters of the righteousness and strength of our side of the issues. You can’t buy them: the dems have that locked up, and it doesn’t really work for them, there’s not enough money to buy everyone, for one thing, and voters don’t stay bought. You can only convince them.
The left is unabashed about being the dirty hippie party. No one was surprised to see an occupier shit on a cop car. That’s what they do. Democrats since the ’60s have believed that the American system is unfair and flawed, that American power is corrupt and evil, that religion is the greatest evil, and that one by one American institutions, other than the bureaucracy, must be degraded, torn down, trashed and destroyed. Lowering the level of discourse and wallowing in the mud serve their cause. They can be blasphemous, vulgar, obscene, hateful, dishonest and even un-American and no one faults them for it, because it’s what they are.
We are supposed to be better than that. If we surrender the high ground of decency, moral standards, civility, honesty and respect for tradition and history, we lose the very essence of our self.
I know Andrew Breitbart disagreed with this. You can honorably disagree.
However, as much as a loss he, as a person, is to his family and friends and to those of us to admired him, I don’t agree with those who think it’s a disaster for the conservative cause, and are looking for someone to take up his mantle as “punk rock republican”.
The other thing is, I never saw this from Andrew, but Coulter is showing anyone who doesn’t whole-heartedly back Romney what it’s like to be on the receiving end of her banal asininity. I personally don’t think she’ll recover her popularity after Romney gets absolutely destroyed in the general election, and that’s a good thing.
We need more Thomas Sowells and less Ann Coulters. I respected and admired and really liked Andrew Breitbart (at least what I knew of him from his public persona, I never met the man in person). However, I think he sometimes damaged the conservative cause with his tactics and style, and I don’t share the feelings of a great many conservative commenters who seem to think we should take up his tactics and style on a wide scale, which they seem to feel that, when mastered, will finally slay the leftist dragon of big media and big hollywood.
You’ll never convince those people, and it’s folly to try. You’ll lose the cachet and reputation you do have, and you’ll lose what makes your side special and believable and victorious, while gaining nothing of value.
Again, none of this is meant to in any way disparage or attack Andrew Breitbart as a person. I don’t think I’ve felt this sad about the death of someone who was not personally known to me.
I have young children myself, and the loss to his family is a terrible, terrible thing. My most fearful nightmare is leaving my young children without one of their parents in this harsh, unfeeling, uncaring world. No one will ever love, protect or care like your parents, unconditionally and unfailingly. The loss of that love the bereavement and sorrow they must be feeling is almost too much to bear. My heart goes out to them. To have their husband and father’s name and reputation bandied about would add to the emotional and physical pain they are feeling now.
Personally, I’d be angry and prone to lash out in retaliation, but they have shown grace and dignity, and that makes my heart go out to them even more, and is a tribute to Andrew as well.
I don’t think we’ll soon forget Andrew Breitbart, and our best tribute is to keep up the fight, if not exactly on the same terms as he might have. I don’t think any one of us could duplicate his energy and style if we wanted to, but perhaps we can harness some of the passion. We certainly need it in the next 8 months.
Lastly, in answer to those who wonder at anyone on this blog talking about lack of civility, vulgarism and level of discourse, if we had even 1/100th the influence or eyeballs Coulter or Breitbart commanded, we’d clean up our game. Ad it is, no one may even read this jeremiad.