My seminal political moments occurred in Berkeley, California in 1969. It was about a little square of land known as People’s Park. I was, at that time, the proverbial flower child and about to graduate. Governor Ronald Reagan sent the National Guard to protect the land which the University of California owned and intended to convert into a parking lot. They erected a fence around the park and installed National Guardsmen with bayonets inside the fence.
I wasn’t particularly political, but I did go there once, looked briefly into the eyes of those soldiers and at their weapons, and strategically placed flowers in the fence.
Classes were cancelled, but I was in a play. You know – the show must go on.
I ventured onto campus for our scheduled rehearsal. The Berkeley campus is gorgeous, comprised of hills, fields, brooks, and majestic trees. On my way to the Theatre Arts Building, something caught my attention. I turned and saw a guardsman perched on a high branch of a tree… with a gun… pointed at me.
I did not attend my graduation. In the midst of the debacle over People’s Park, I accepted the largesse of my parents and flew to England, planning never to return to the police state I had left behind. I became an expatriate.
I spent over a year in Europe. When the parental support ran out, I got a job selling paintings to tourists dining along the lungomare on the Italian Riviera. I lived in a sort of young artists’ commune in Rapallo, south of Portofino, which included French, Italian, German, and American kids. There was nary a political thought among us.
But Kent State happened while I was there. Four dead in O-hi-o.
I felt guilty.
And “Easy Rider” came out. I watched the film in Italian with English subtitles in a little movie house in Rome and was devastated.
Both events tugged at me to come home.
Eventually, I came to see the light, taking the aptly termed Right Turn coined by my high school classmate Michael Medved. As Winston Churchill said,
“If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”
I profess to have had both.
Once the brain kicked in – and marriage, home ownership, children on the way – I gravitated to conservative candidates to lead this country. With no small measure of irony, I enthusiastically voted for former nemesis Ronald Reagan. I devoured print media (as was customary in my family) and talk radio. A spark was ignited. Love of liberty, country, and traditional American values came over me like a steam roller. My husband, Robert Marlow, led the way. Then Alex, our incredible first child, picked up the torch as Managing Editor of Breitbart News. I am proud to say I work here now as well.
Have a reverent and joyous celebration of this Independence Day, 2012.
Breitbart lives here.