"Did you hear who died now? That's our third." I was speaking to a friend on the phone today, referring to the theory that celebrities die in groups of three. I'm pretty sure you know who the "first" one was this time. Yesterday, after singer Davy Jones passed (a childhood idol for many of us who watched The Monkees on Nickelodeon in the 80s, 20 years after it originally aired), we wondered aloud together who the third person would be.
I got my answer this morning, when my husband routinely checked out Internet headlines before going to work. "Breitbart died!" He said it as if the story was about a family member we had lost touch with, but held dear nonetheless. He said it that way because that's who Breitbart was to us -- someone we talked about, followed on social media and loved "hearing from" (seeing on TV appearances, YouTube-ing his CPAC speeches and hallway confrontations). We always said we'd go see him at a public appearance if we ever had the chance. And we did have a few chances, because we live in Southern California, about two hours from where Andrew Breitbart lived and worked. In the past couple of years, he had made several appearances we could have driven to.
But we never did. And now, we never will.
Image: © Ron Sachs/DPA/ZUMAPRESS.com
To me and to thousands of conservative Americans, Breitbart was more than just another conservative blogger. He was more than yet another Internet opportunist. If you read up on his background, you learn that he was actually a co-founder of The Drudge Report -- and if you know anything about the early days of The Drudge Report, you know what that website did to alter an American presidency. To us, ordinary American conservatives in our mid-30s, he was the person we aspired to be: outspoken, fearless, speaking truth to power and embracing life. In the literal, wearing liberal fashion (graphic tees, Converse sneakers, hole-y jeans) on our bodies - while in the figurative, wearing our conservative beliefs on our sleeves.
If you're a left-leaning type, you have an equivalent. His name is Barack Obama. What the President represented to those who voted for him in 2008 is who Breitbart was to us: Hope. Change. Yes, we can.
Conservatives lost more than a blogger. More than a talking head. So much more than an activist. They lost a friend, whether they ever met Andrew Breitbart or not. I lost a friend.
As for my real-life friend on the phone this morning, she didn't know who Breitbart was. She's like a lot of your friends: She watches reality shows and gets her news from Good Day LA (fill in your local equivalent). Thanks to the news ticker today on the networks that broadcast those shows, she knows now. The watered-down, pop culture worshipping reality show culture that Breitbart actually had an affinity for (no, I'm not bashing my friend or the culture here) knows who Breitbart is now, and what his life's work was all about. Just a day too late.
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