I mourn the death of Andrew Breitbart. I didn’t know the guy personally, aside from the exchange of a few mutual admiration emails, so I have no further insights into the man or his personality beyond what his many friends and colleagues have already written.
But my mourning is mixed with a sense of frustration. Great men like Andrew Breitbart are not great simply because of their own personal actions and achievements; they’re great because they show us the way to be just like them.
A good father goes fishing and feeds his sons every night. A great father teaches his sons how to fish so they can feed themselves.
A good muckraking investigative journo-activist breaks shocking stories that change the political landscape. A great muckraking investigative journo-activist — like Andrew Breitbart — shows us that anybody can do what he does.
Because that’s the secret of Andrew Breitbart’s career: He rose to the top despite not possessing any unique skills.
He wasn’t a great writer. Not bad; just serviceable. He didn’t have a PhD. He personally wasn’t very handy with a camera. (Though he certainly knew what to do with newsworthy photos or footage once he got his hands on them.) He wasn’t an economic theorist. He wasn’t a beacon of moral purity. He wasn’t a deep philosopher. He wasn’t even a professional journalist.
But whatever he did, he did with gusto. And not just run-of-the-mill gusto: extreme gusto.
When he got the ball, he never fumbled. He sent would-be tacklers flying. And even if his team wasn’t on offense, he’d snatch the ball anyway and score a backfield touchdown before the other guys even knew what happened.
One thing we must learn from Andrew’s life: If Breitbart could do it, anyone could do it. We no longer have any excuse. America’s bloggers and citizen-journalists and new-media mavens need to get off our collective asses and make news happen.
Every day, you need to ask yourself: What Would Breitbart Do?
And then do it.
Too many bloggers and pundits are responding to Breitbart’s passing with an air of resignation and deflation. Instead, we should look to him as an inspiration, a model of how we all should act. That’s what Andrew would want.
Imagine not one Andrew Breitbart smashing the status quo on a daily basis, but a million Andrew Breitbarts. (Heck, I’d be satisfied with a hundred, but following my own blandishments, I’m reaching for the stars.) The oppressive, smothering narrative chokehold of the entrenched media-political-academic monopoly would be decisively broken once and for all.
And so I mark Breitbart’s death by announcing The Million Breitbart Project. It has no official membership, no organizers, no infrastructure. The Million Breitbart Project is instead a state of mind. Every blogger and activist and citizen journalist must henceforth strive to emulate Breitbart’s verve and attitude in everything we do.
Don’t ask permission. Don’t take “No” for an answer, either from your inner pessimist or from anyone else.
Think strategically. Act boldly. To do otherwise would be an insult to Breitbart’s memory and show that we didn’t learn the lesson of his too-brief life.