I just read the horrible news that Andrew Breitbart has died. I send from Jerusalem my heartfelt condolences to his widow and children.
I watched Andrew’s speech at CPAC on YouTube and have to admit that I thought he didn’t look well. He had put on some extra weight and to my eye seemed a bit short of breath. After watching, I found myself concerned that he may have a heart problem.
And I was concerned. Because Andrew was the sort of person we can’t afford to lose. He was an unapologetic political warrior. He was a conservative, American patriot and friend of liberty everywhere. He was also a big friend of Israel.
I met Andrew two or three times over the years and each meeting was a pleasure. His no nonsense, “let’s get straight to business,” attitude was a breath of fresh air in a world where we are more judged by how polite we are than what we actually do. He knew who I am and I knew who he was and so each of our conversations went immediately to the point, whatever it was.
Andrew understood the truth that eludes so many conservatives in the US and Israel. That truth — that if you want to win in politics you have to be good to your friends and bad to your enemies — is what motivated his every move. He understood that right wingers never win any points for their side by trying to ingratiate themselves with the Left. The Left believes its job is to defeat and destroy the Right and will pocket any concessions the Right makes and use them as a means to divide and conquer their enemies.
In Israel and America alike, the reason the Left wins even when it loses is because so many powerful forces on the Right are afraid to stand up for what they believe. They justify their meekness by claiming that the public won’t support them if they are unabashed about who they are and what they stand for, often citing focus groups and polling data to back up their claim.
But just as in business the only way to get people to buy your product is to sell it, so in politics, if you don’t seek to convince people that your views are correct, then you’ll never convince the public that your views are correct. If you surrender the battlefield of ideas to the Left because you’re afraid the Left won’t like you if you say you disagree, then obviously, they will continue to win the war of ideas.
This was the insight that guided Andrew’s work. It was also the key to his success. As it turns out, there is a huge market for conservative ideas. Indeed, as the 2010 midterms showed, most Americans are willing to support them. And as most elections in Israel show, the majority of Israelis consistently support them.
I can’t believe that Andrew is no longer with us. His death is a huge loss to the conservative movement in the US and to his fellow intellectual warriors throughout the free world. I hope and trust however that his energy, courage and success will live on through the thousands and thousands of people who were empowered by his work.