The Legacy of Andrew Breitbart

Why people loved the iconoclastic warrior.

When Andrew Breitbart died suddenly at the age of 43 last week, America lost a beacon of liberty – and just as importantly, a beacon of hilarity. What Andrew brought to the political debate can’t be duplicated. He infused people with enthusiasm for the fight. It reminded them that it was up to them to vet their candidates, to speak truth to power, to fight the media narratives – and to have fun doing it.

Politics is deadly serious, but it is also fun. Andrew recognized that simple truth because he didn’t take himself, or anybody else, all that seriously. It was that genius for laughter that made him an iconic figure. Take, for example, his famed strategy for dealing with hate on Twitter: retweeting. For those who don’t engage in this vast chat room, Twitter can be a brutal experience: accusations and jokes flying fast and furious, your reputation on the line with each 140-character tweet. Andrew was a master of invective, of course – one of my favorite Andrew tweets came just before his death, when he called out David Brock: “Knew about David Brock’s party boy lifestyle. But the $8,000 Louis Vuitton suit bag & painted bust of a Roman soldier?! What taste!”

But he was more famous for retweeting the hate that came raining down on him daily – distributing the hate far and wide for everyone to see. His point was simple: nasty people deserve broad, not narrow viewing. Transparency is key.

That was a theme for Andrew. Don’t trust the media. Don’t trust the narrative you’re given. Figure it out yourself.

It was a perspective drawn from Andrew’s life experience. He grew up in an upper-middle-class Jewish household in Brentwood, where he breezed through school without much effort; during college he was a slacker fed a steady stream of Frankfurt School critical theory. When he got back to Los Angeles and entered the real world, though, he realized that the hypocrisy of the left was endless. He recognized that political correctness was a weapon and, more importantly, a shield for the left.

His first true eye-opening experience came during the Clarence Thomas hearings, when he was stunned to find the media – the same media that had defended Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct with the fiery sword of righteousness – jumping on Thomas with both feet. Andrew could never tolerate bullies, and the bully tactics of the thug media bothered him to no end.

He soon realized that it wasn’t a single case. It was systemic. And it had to be fought. That’s when he hooked up with Matt Drudge. That’s when he honed his political philosophy, which was iconoclastic and individualist, but eternally optimistic. Andrew never despaired of the country. He despaired of our political leaders, but never our people.

And most of all, Andrew wasn’t afraid. The left assaulted time and time again. They attacked him out of context on the Sherrod issue. They called him a racist. They said he was an angry man – an absurd characterization for anybody who knew him. Andrew’s emotions were written on his face almost constantly, and injustice angered him – but overall, he was incredibly joyful. That’s why people loved him.

And he taught us not to be afraid. He stood for citizen journalism, and told us that it was our job to do what the media wouldn’t. He empowered us, rather than preaching at us. He taught us that it was okay to stand up – the sun would always rise in the morning, no matter how dark the night.

And he taught us to joke. He wore roller blades down to rallies of his political opponents to drive them batty. He went on Red Eye and poured water on himself. He had dinner with domestic terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, and he joked about how their food was “the bomb.” That was Andrew, in the lion’s den, and having a blast doing it.

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