COTTO: The spirit of Andrew Breitbart lives on

The late right-wing provocateur has achieved an odd sort of political immortality
Photo: Andrew Breitbart/ AP

OCALA, Fla., November 18, 2013 — Fewer things are more rewarding than devotion to something larger than oneself. Certain people choose to become parents. Politically incorrect as this might be to admit, parenthood — or at least wanting to have children is often rooted in the desire for immortality.

It is easy to see the promise in watching one’s descendants grow as old age approaches. Others opt for a lifetime of activism. They believe that through their professional efforts, which have deeply personal underpinnings, a better, more satisfying world can be built. This too is anchored in a vague, if not subconscious, yearning for the infinite.

What could more rewarding than, amidst one’s twilight years, reminiscing with the knowledge that a real difference has been made? Yet more try to have their cake and eat it as well; namely raising a family while building a career. The results usually speak for themselves.

It is at the crossroads of family values and entrepreneurialism that our country’s conservative movement has stood for quite awhile. Social conservatives and fiscal watchdogs have never enjoyed an easy relationship.

Since President Obama arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, though, the Republican coalition has caved drastically. While this feud has been disastrous for both the GOP and America’s political process, it worked out nicely for one man: Andrew Breitbart saw a meteoric rise in popularity as dismay over U.S. liberalization grew.

Through his now-venerable alternative media network, stories ignored by mainstream outlets found a trumpet and, consequently, prime time on the national stage. The spectacular downfall of Anthony Weiner’s congressional career is proof of this bar none.

Breitbart managed to unite social reactionaries and fiscal conservatives in a way that no figure has since Ronald Reagan. He harnessed anger about a changing American society and directed it at a political-journalistic establishment believed to be unfair. He communicated with disaffected voters and movement operatives on an indescribably deep level.

Most shockingly, Breitbart pulled all of this off while claiming to be a reporter.

The better half of two years after succumbing to a fatal heart attack, Breitbart remains highly polarizing. Just after Breitbart’s passing, center-right pundit David Frum, writing for The Daily Beast, noted that it’s hard even to use the word issues in connection with Andrew Breitbart. He may have used the words left and right, but it’s hard to imagine what he ever meant by those words.

Breitbart waged a culture war minus the culture, as a pure struggle between personalities. Hence his intense focus on President Obama: only by hating a particular political man could Breitbart bring any order to his fundamentally apolitical emotions.

Frum later said that for Breitbart “(t)he attack was everything, the details nothing This indifference to detail suffused all of Breitbart’s work, and may indeed be his most important and lasting legacy. Breitbart sometimes got stories right….More often he got them wrong. He did not much care either way. Just as all is fair in a shooting war, so manipulation and deception are legitimate tools in a culture war. Breitbart used those tools without qualm or regret, and he inspired a cohort of young conservative journalists to do likewise.”

Veteran GOP operative Fred Karger, who made history in the 2012 elections as America’s first openly gay presidential candidate, tells The Washington Times Communities that “(u)tilizing new media, the late great Andrew Breitbart did for the conservative movement what no one had done before or since and he did it with flair and a certain amount of compassion.  

He was not just a pit bull on the right, but instead was thoughtful and smart while making his points. His message also resonated with a younger conservative audience and they loved him.  His premature death at only 43 years old created a huge void.”

With Breitbart’s untimely demise came legions of fans who pledged to carry on his work. Nowadays, Breitbart Media holds immense power over right-leaning America. Beyond that, however, an entirely new crop of conservatives are set on remaking U.S. politics in their own image — even at the direct expense of the Republican Party.

Breitbart gave them the courage they needed to jump out from the shadows and into the spotlight. This is a spectacular display of career-based immortality. Breitbart is very much alive; at least in spirit. He made a career at the American right’s most dangerous intersection and profited handsomely.

Although the nation as a whole suffered for it, Breitbart stood out from the crowd and grasped the infinite; refusing to let go in the face of all rational concerns. Without the rightish movement he facilitated, there likely would be no federal government shutdown or primary challenge to GOP U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell.

Our media circuit and political realm never saw a character like Breitbart until he came along, and hopefully never will again. In such uncertain times, though, an educated prediction seems next to impossible. In any case, this much is for certain: Breitbart lives.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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