I put off reading Andrew Breitbart’s Righteous Indignation for some time now because I felt as though I didn’t need to. I followed him for years, was lucky enough to speak to him when he visited The Heritage Foundation a few years ago, and knew that his transformation from a default liberal into a conservative in many ways mirrored my own. I thought the impact he had on my life was complete. I was wrong.
On Friday night I asked God for help. I needed to know what my next step should be. Over the years I’ve met incredible people within the conservative movement, from academia to media to grass roots activists. Professionally, I’ve been blessed, yet I wanted to know what I should build with the tools I’ve been given. On Saturday I woke up and literally felt compelled to buy Andrew’s book. Imagine my surprise to find out he (as an atheist!) turned in the same direction when he most needed guidance:
“I’m not the most religious guy. In fact, at the time, I considered myself an atheist. But that pent-up frustration caused me to say aloud, in my car, ‘Please God, give me something to do that I’m passionate about. Please give me a mission.'”
If not for a night shift I pulled at work, I would have finished Righteous Indignation in one sitting.
The most important chapters of Breitbart’s book are those detailing his “lost” years, when he considered himself a liberal, and his ideological transformation upon graduation from Tulane. The chapters on Drudge, The Huffington Post and ACORN scandals are interesting, but they don’t particularly cover new ground. Conservatives know the media is biased. What they don’t know is how to relate to young people. Andrew’s epiphanies hold the key to unlocking a relationship with younger voters at a time when their political identities are still forming.
Just a few of Breitbart’s observations include:
- Pop culture matters. What happens in front of the cameras on a sound stage at the Warner Bros. lot often makes more difference to the fate of America than what happens in the back rooms of the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.
- Humor is a weapon to be deployed as often as possible — it is almost impossible to defend against. It is the weapon the Frankfurt School lacked — their seriousness made them boring an inaccessible. [Saul] Alinsky is no such thing. He is hilarious, and that hilarity breeds the sort of social change only a Jon Stewart or a Stephen Colbert could bring about rather than a Noam Chomsky.
- You must provoke your enemy into reacting so that you can work off of the reaction. If you do a good enough job, you can force them to make a mistake. When they do, you must be ready to exploit.
- The psychic high from standing up for what you believe in and being attacked for it far surpassed the comfort to be derived from [a] bath of praise. … Revel in the name calling — it means you’ve got them reduced to their lowest, basest tactic, and the one that carries the least weight if you refuse to abide by their definition of you.
- Don’t pretend to know more than you do.
- Don’t let them pretend to know more than they do. … You can always puncture their balloon with one word: why.
- Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.
As I read passages of “Righteous Indignation” to my wife (I’m sure she was thrilled), she deadpanned, “That’s you. You love when they call you names.” She’s right. And I loved Andrew Breitbart because he “got it.” In fact, perhaps the only person within media who gets it even remotely that well … is Greg Gutfeld. We need more Andrews and Gregs. A lot more. And the blueprint for accomplishing that goal can be found in Righteous Indignation. Reading the book has inspired me an has given me a better focus. I’m confident that it will do the same for you.
God bless you, Andrew. We miss you.