I need my intellectual icons dashed with an irreverent streak, or I will wander away. Andrew Breitbart captivated me with his intricate expositions on radical Islam as much as his gleeful threat to catapult horse feces onto OWS protesters. He kept it interesting.
Breitbart continues to be roundly dismissed as a provocateur (a charge leveled most often by failed provocateurs), but this guy illuminated the capabilities of an energized media like no other. Just as important as the style he jangled our nerves with were his targets. Irreverence only works when it's aimed at hypocrisy and malfeasance parading as authority. Utopian government is the enemy of a thinking people, and this fact resonated through every syllable Andrew sneered and sputtered for the masses.
He gave us the obstinate grit of Pat Buchanan, the cocksure antagonism of Bill Buckley, but above all, he was an original. Unafraid. I'll fondly remember his rough hewn prep school uniform, the ice in his eyes and the steady joy he effused when delineating his goals.
Breitbart's gusto was summarily backed up with factual decimation of morons, usually by their words alone.
Since I'm barely online during Lent, I will long have the memory of my husband finding me amongst the morning chores yesterday to give me the news of Andrew's death. He heard it on the radio. It reminds me of the day he found me among the same shuffle of dishes and hair dryers four years ago with the stunner (also gleaned from our trusty kitchen radio) that Sarah Palin had been chosen by John McCain as his vice presidential candidate. I joined the Republican party because my governor was running, and I wanted to vote for her in the primary and beyond. I'm not ashamed of that (and it's hardly material --- I've been a Green Party member, officially Undeclared, and most recently, a Libertarian. For reasons of misdirected teenage passions, rugged Alaskan whim, and a scruffy boy with a clipboard in a sunny mall skybridge, respectively.)
This newest incarnation of my single vote had similarly shallow roots. In fact, I arrogantly recoiled at hitching my wagon to the stars presented me by the mainstream GOP. The last thing I wanted was to align myself with the unfair caricature of the country club set or backwoods misogynists which prevail through most thirtysomethings' lexicon as defining the Republican party.
In Andrew --- not to mention Sarah --- I reveled at the depth of their patriotism, their love of life's earthly gifts, and the quixotically sharp elbows which marginalized them, propelled them and defined them. More than their quirks, their flaws or even their talents, it was their insistence that America is special and unique that hooked me. I can't say I'd ever been taught that, except in the most inoffensive platitudes. In this assertion I found a conservative party ideal that met logical and emotional standards. We are a grand experiment, the USA.
In the wake of Sarah Palin's public ascendancy, I came to terms with just how reviled a Christian mother who adores her husband, knows her place, and speaks her mind is by the self-appointed philosopher kings in our country. They hate her, and they hate me. Within a few months, by the late Spring of 2009 I understood that this nod by John McCain had threatened to dismantle the well-crafted narrative of Gloria Steinem and her coven of confusion. Men and babies will ruin your life, doncha know? Lots of talk about rights, nary a mention of corresponding responsibilities. (Better to beg for estrogen-laden scraps from the federal government, apparently.) Rather than acknowledge individualism as the currency of the American dream, Palin was vivisected as a fluke and a fool.
In the hours since Andrew Breitbart's death, the same smug chorus likely sings. His bravery is foreign to them. They have only this clown, capsizing his way between obscurity and Havana, interspersed with red carpet forays and shows of Occupy solidarity, of course.
A man briefly opined yesterday that he sagely warned Andrew Breitbart about the forces he so vocally opposed; they could swallow him whole. He had implored him to find journalistic success without all the personal baggage. Surely both Andrew Breitbart and Sarah Palin had simpler career paths available ... if only they'd be a little quieter. I thank them both for turning up the volume instead.
Here is where my tea party loyalty, and indeed, latent Republican affection, rises to full staff. Let's get together and make some noise. Not that effete, wannabe Eurotrash kind, either. Rev your engines and join the chili cookoff. We are loud and spicy, and our duty to keep yelling was won by mostly nameless heroes we must not forget. The Tea Party is America. No frills, no stagecraft, more Larry the Cable Guy than Larry David, and accepting of any person's path of liberty. The tri-corner hats (often with sweatpants and workboots!) are plentiful. I close my eyes to them and listen to the stories of a crowd so diverse it humbles this writer every time. Diversity, too, is of little lasting value without unity.
Each of us must double down and recommit to our role in preserving this unity. Whether you're called to be noisy cog or not, you sew a vital thread into our flag: raising a family, working for peace and justice, dogged fidelity to the tenets of freedom, protecting those without a voice, and praying for the future before us.
Andrew's work revealed the nobility of the American way of life just as squarely as it invited the craven sadness of extreme liberalism to show its face. He raged in the wimpy countenace of No, We Can't dressed up as Yes We Can. The machine is gunning for you too, if you're one of us. Mount up.
Godspeed, dear Breitbart. I promise to name my next Rottweiler after you.