Sadly, I did not know Andrew Breitbart as well as some others in the Tea Party and conservative movements. Andrew and I spoke on the same Tea Party circuit and at many of the same events in the Tea Party and liberty movement over the last two years of his life. We would chat at these events and I always admired not just his work but also his vigorous and enthusiastic personality. He was never a defeatist and always took on the challenges of fighting for the causes that he championed–and that many of us now continue.
I want to share with you some personal things about Andrew that stood out when I knew him, and have stayed with me until this day.
Andrew once told me he was floored with how quickly people clamored to him when he was doing well and how much faster they fled when he found himself in trouble. We often talked about being careful not to place much importance on what others say about us and making sure that we are at peace with the work we do for the country we love.
Andrew said that when he visited Tea Party groups around the country he almost never charged for his time, and often covered his own expenses. He said that he wanted to visit these groups so he could help them grow our movement.
He was scheduled to speak at Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit in February 2011, but he had to cancel at the last minute due to personal reasons. Later the next week, Andrew reached out to us to apologize for not making it to our event and check to make sure it did not cause us too much difficulty. That’s the kind of man Andrew was.
Andrew had a young family. And as I can fully understand, he told me once he did not mind traveling because it was important to help spread the message and grow the movement, but he desperately missed his wife and their children when he was away. He and his wife would discuss whether or not what he was doing was worth it.
This struck such a chord with me, because Andrew and I were on somewhat parallel paths. We were so close in age, traveling the country speaking, doing what we could in our own unique ways to make a difference, and hoping that the time away from our families would be worth it in the long run.
Sometimes it’s hard to know whether or not the work we do makes a difference for the country we love so dearly. Sometimes, late at night in yet another hotel room, one wonders if we are doing the right things for our country and our families. That was the way I connected most deeply with Andrew.
From personal experience, and from listening to what my twins say when I have to hit the road for yet another trip, I know it is hard not just on me but especially on my family. No doubt it was the same for Andrew and his family. Andrew’s family had to share Andrew with the country. It is probably not what his wife signed up for when they first married and probably not what they envisioned for their life. Patriots across the country benefited from their sacrifice.
My hope today, as we look back on the anniversary of Andrew’s death, is that his wife Susie and his children know that Andrew Breitbart made a difference! Andrew shaped our national debates. Andrew was a trailblazer in online media. He reminded conservatives of the importance of having fun and using culture to spread our message. He was an energizing and inspiring speaker. His gutsy, brassy, bold attitude when fighting for our values and standing up for our principles set an example from which many elected officials could – and should – learn.