Friday, March 2, 2012

Andrew Breitbart (1969–2012)

I haven’t been blogging at all in months, and I’ve been meaning to pick things up again for the last several weeks. Now seems like as good a time as any.

Like most conservatives, I find myself saddened at the passing of Andrew Breitbart. He was a couple years younger than me, and that has me thinking of my own mortality again. I wish I could say that I have accomplished half as much as he had, but I still have time to catch up. I can’t say that I ever sat down with the man, or really knew him. I did have a couple brief Twitter exchanges with him. And I think my happiest moment in the Twittersphere was when he retweeted something I had said.

I think we need to be careful of how we remember this giant of a man, and how we react to his death. We have a problem in the conservative blogosphere/twittersphere. It’s not unique to conservatives, but to many groups. We’ve formed this clique requiring that you show you conservative credentials for admittance. Among us, there’s this smaller percentage, maybe 1%, that actually spend time engaging, leading the conservative agenda. We tweet, we blog, and we talk about what we see wrong with this country and how to correct it. Some of us do original research and break news. Others are more like me, and analytical in nature, and can break down a CBO report into something that real humans can understand. We lambast some politicos, and cheer for others. Occasionally the same politico might receive cheers and jeers in the same week. Those of us that are particularly witty or pithy or engaging get repeated and reposted by conservatives all over. We’re happy about this, and feel like we’ve accomplished something and we pat ourselves on the back for it and move on to the next thing.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a bad thing by itself. It does help articulate our message, and if we can use our blogging to simplify complicated messages, that makes it easier to motivate people to spread the word, GOTV, etc.

But…

There’s a word for this type of closed system, self-congratulatory thought process.

Groupthink.

And now that I’ve written a page of what was supposed to be a memoriam to Andrew Breitbart, it’s time I actually mentioned the man’s name.

This is where he was different. Yes, he and his Big sites broke news. Yes, he and his Big sites often did some deeper analysis as well (and we hope that continues without him). But Breitbart was never content to just shout his words to his own little fan club and get the pats on the back for being particularly well spoken.

Breitbart understood that we need to grow the conservative movement, not just reinforce it. He understood that to do that, we need to take out message outside of our clique and face the enemy head on. He understood that when the left lies, we need to call them out on it, not just in our little conservative blogosphere, but right to their faces. The way we grow the movement is to get more people to stop blindly accepting the lies of the left, and begin to question their words, actions, and the motives behind them. This, not breaking news, not stories about ACORN or Anthony Weiner, was his strength.

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people with anything like his influence that understand these simple facts, and are willing to go out and battle every day to expand the conservative movement and shut down the lying left.

This is the problem.

If you’re wondering who is going to step up and be the next Breitbart, you never understood him.

Who should be the next Breitbart? Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, John Nolte, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio are all good lieutenants. Maybe one of them could even replace him. But to remember him properly, we should think about accomplishing his goals, not replacing him. Breitbart didn’t want to be irreplaceable or even unique. He was a great champion for our cause, but we don’t need another champion like him. As Glenn Reynolds says, we need “An Army of Davids”.

Who should be the next Breitbart? You. Me. All of us.

Thank you, Andrew Breitbart, for showing us how it’s done. You’ve earned your rest in the next life and you’ve now passed on the baton to all of us. Wherever you are, sit back, relax, and watch us as we accept your challenge and try to follow the example you set for us.

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