Andrew Breitbart passed away six years ago today at the all-too-young age of 43. His death was a monumental loss to his family, friends, the conservative movement, and the country as a whole.
I had the privilege of getting to know Andrew, especially during the last year of his life, and considered him a friend. There has been a lot said and written about him over the years, but what I want to emphasize today is the power he had to encourage and uplift others.
You are reading my byline here today because I knew Andrew. I met him when I was just starting to get involved in conservative activism and had started my own little blog, focusing on local and state politics in Florida. He was incredibly generous with his time, granting me an interview when he launched his book, Righteous Indignation, even though I did not have anywhere near the audience as I do now.
That interview remains one of my favorite I’ve ever done, and one comment he made really stuck with me. I asked him about the many “free passes” that liberals often get from mainstream media coverage and if he wished conservatives could be treated the same. He paused for a moment to think about it and replied, no, he was fine having to fight an uphill battle:
The thing is, I like playing by the rules that they’re not willing to play [by]…they get away with stuff but I’m willing to play by the rules…I actually like being held to a strict standard, I like the idea that I’m fighting them with my hands tied behind my back, because when I beat them, it makes it all the more fun.
It’s a unique perspective, to be sure, in this era where certain conservative media outlets seem to be falling all over themselves to provide the same kind of simpering propagandistic coverage for President Donald Trump that we once mocked the mainstream media when they did the same for former President Barack Obama. In contrast, I’m proud of what we are doing here at RedState; you’ll see a wide range of views on Trump, Congress, various legislation and policies, and reactions to the news of the day.
Just under my byline here you’ll find pieces critical of things Trump has said, some that are just straight reporting about him, and others that praise the administration or appointments he has made. I’ve been very transparent about the fact that I did not vote for Trump and will not vote for his reelection, but truth demands that I acknowledge when things go right.
“Truth isn’t mean,” Andrew famously said. “It’s the truth.” And he was one of the strongest advocates for truth — separate from partisan politics — that I’ve ever seen. Remember, before he launched the Breitbart sites, he also helped start both Drudge Report and the Huffington Post. In Andrew’s view, the more voices that participated in the discussion, the more ideas that were put out in the sunlight for everyone to see, the better.
Of course, he was confident that conservative philosophies were the better ones, and would defeat liberal ideologies in a matchup, but he never shied from the battle, never sought to avoid a debate or challenge to his ideas. The solution to so many problems, in Andrew’s view, was to get as many voices as possible to speak up and the good ideas would naturally rise to the top.
As the updated conclusion to Righteous Indignation stated:
I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the [Mainstream Media] Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and—famously—I enjoy making enemies.
Three years ago, I was mostly a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a very popular website. I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I’ve lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I’ve gained hundreds, thousands—who knows?—of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night.
He did indeed have thousands of allies. And he lives on today in all of us and the work we do.
This video, created by fellow RedState contributor Brandon Morse, sums it up well. As Brandon wrote, “Breitbart’s legacy continues in all those who fight everyday for freedom and we will continue to fight using [his] example…We are Andrew Breitbart.”
(See any familiar faces?)
You have the chance to be Andrew Breitbart too. Find your voice. Find the issues that move you. And just start writing. RedState is one of the best diary forums on the conservative internet, and it’s absolutely free to sign up.
As John Donne’s famous poem “Death Be Not Proud” begins:
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
Death cannot overthrow the works of Andrew Breitbart, nor silence his voice, much less the thousands of voices he launched, as Rick Hornsby so perfectly described him in this video.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.