It’s fitting that the only place you’ll find this exclusive excerpt of my new book, Finding Mr. Righteous, is on Breitbart.com. Below is an excerpt where I describe one of the many times when Andrew Breitbart inspired a conservative to break the rules set by politicos and engage in the culture. This was my first moment.
The second moment was writing this book. It’s pure guilty pleasure reading about all the things we’re not supposed to talk about in polite company – sex, God, and politics. But, as Ann Coulter described it, “It’s a Christian story disguised as racy Chick Lit.”
Finding Mr. Righteous isn’t for everyone, but I hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt on how Andrew inspired me to reach people outside my conservative bubble. Who knows, maybe you’ll want to share it with someone outside your bubble.
That summer I made my usual trek to Palm Beach. I was able to tack on a trip to the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Charlotte at the beginning of the trip, giving me almost a full month away from the office.
Being alone at a conference wasn’t fun. I was used to having Simon or Thomas as my armor. I was quickly reminded of school field trips, when I was the only one who didn’t pair up with a best friend or group of friends. Sometimes I could pair up temporarily with another loner, but it didn’t last. On top of that, I didn’t have the cool sack lunch like the others. Every week my mother gave me a check to take to the cafeteria. She paid for my sister and I for the week. (Years later, my sister thought we were poor enough to qualify for free lunch, not knowing I had taken the money to the lunch lady every week.)
So, when it came time to bring a lunch on a field trip, I didn’t have a cool lunch box or cool lunch items like chips and fruit roll-ups. It seemed I always ended up with a sandwich with at least one end piece, fifty cents so I could buy a Diet Coke (though there almost never was a Coke machine once we got there), and the most humiliating part–carrying my lunch in an empty bread bag.
Thankfully, I got through the conference and was on the road early Sunday morning so I could get to Palm Beach with minimal stops.
After settling in for a few days, I had the idea for a column that would highlight conservatives’ pop culture interests, hopefully making them more appealing to the masses. Having run the conference for four years, I already had a pretty good bank of people I could interview. But first I wanted to reach out to activist and pop culture nut Andrew Breitbart. After an hour-long conversation (there were only hour-long conversations with Andrew), I was convinced that this was going to be a great column. I was itching to do something creative in addition to my event-planning duties, and this would be a perfect fit.
It was also a good opportunity to pick John’s brain about the questions to ask. He didn’t disappoint.
Dear Conference Cutie,
OK — here is my advice on your nascent column and your expanded service to the VRWC. Because of who you are, you are getting the “full Batman treatment” — but you are under no obligation to heed any of this advice. Even though it’s solid platinum.
What the movement (and movement leaders) need more than any additional topical analysis is an outlet or device to humanize the personalities of its major activists. Anything that reveals a sense of humor, irony, self-reflection, poetry, child-like innocence or savage wit would make political or cultural warriors more appealing — and thus more persuasive — to the masses. Think about those individuals whose opinions you value. Are any of them unrelentingly angry? Humorless? Dull?
Most movement activists are so focused on the issue / battle du jour that they bury these qualities in themselves. Or actively seek to disguise them for fear of appearing “non-serious.” But by de-humanizing themselves they become, over time, “school marm-ish” — and instant excuses to change the channel whenever they appear.
Why is there such rabid interest in the performances at the annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner or Gridiron or Alfalfa Club soirees? Because serious players have a serious need to see serious players be non-serious.
This is not an invitation to frivolity. Rather, an appeal to a leader to offer a brief glimpse of what they’re like on Saturday mornings with their children or grandchildren. Or what they daydream about when not saving the world. Or simply how they re-charge their creative batteries.
He got it.
Naturally, I started with Ann Coulter, the conservative movement’s most famous and witty woman. Coincidentally, a friend and mentor.
After I got back from Palm Beach, the grumbling about the gays started. For years the conference had been home to all facets of the conservative movement. That’s what made it the largest conference in terms of attendance and sponsors. However, in late 2010, a group of social conservatives decided that a group that represented gay conservatives should no longer be welcomed. While only a handful of past sponsors participated in a “boycott” of the conference, at least a dozen groups that had never participated in the conference signed on, elevating the boycott’s profile beyond its real effect on the conference’s bottom line.
A board vote confirmed that the gay group would be allowed to participate. I was someone who lived and breathed the conference, but I never had the opportunity to speak to a single board member about the real effects of the boycott. The truth was, there was no boycott to speak of. As the conference grew closer, we had more money, attendees, speakers, and sponsors than ever before. In essence, the only reason to oust the gay conservative group was because a small group of people plain didn’t want gays there. But, as I had often seen in DC, it wasn’t about the facts, it was about the power. A handful of board members wanted to prove they had the power to ban a group from “their” conference.
The chairman, who I had supported for years, was likely to retire, and I started to think about what the conference would look like without him. Did I want to be there? Was there anywhere else I could go? Was the movement changing, or just the conference?
As always, I reached out to John for advice.
I know it feels like you’re drowning in your workload. The reason you’re getting all these assignments is because the chairman believes that you can do them — in an environment that doesn’t afford him a ton of other people to trust.
But on a more fundamental level, you seem like you’re still not pursuing a life dream that makes you happy. Try something radical — pray this prayer and heed its answer:
“A Prayer for Joy:
Help me, O God,
To listen to what it is that makes my heart glad and to follow where it leads.
May joy, not guilt,
Your voice, not the voices of others,
Your will, not my willfulness,
be the guides that lead me to my vocation.
Help me to unearth the passions of my heart that lay buried in my youth.
And help me to go over that ground again and again,
until I can hold in my hands, hold and treasure, Your calling on my life.”
Your calling can be a family, a career, a mission overseas — just be honest with yourself about what you WANT, and then use your smarts (and your connections) to chase after THAT.
I read it over and over. I wish I had the clarity to understand my calling. Since I was ten, I said I wanted to be a writer. Then when I met a former coworker with four kids and a seemingly perfect life, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mother who wrote on the side. As I got older, the options for a calling seemed to shrink. Why would God help me? John’s words were perfect on paper, but their message seemed out of reach to me.
To find out how the rest of the story unravels, read Finding Mr. Righteous. I’ll be on Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld to talk about the book on April 16.