Last year, I criticized Matt Welch’s and Nick Gillespies’s book, The Declaration of Independents, as nothing more than journalistic wishful thinking and buzztalk that was completely irrelevant to the problem of political reform. Politics is not lifestyle consumerism. Political competition is not akin to competition in consumer electronics.
Gillespie only demonstrates the critique with this lionization of Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart clearly was Gillespie’s model entrepreneur regarding the “Declaration” thesis. Writes Gillespie:
t doesn’t matter who we is, kemo sabe. It’s the conservatives at Drudge, the liberals at HuffPo, the leftists at DailyKos, the libertarians at Reason. It’s all of us and Breitbart helped create and grow a series of do-it-yourself demonstration projects through which we can all speak more loudly and more fully.
Breitbart is dead, but the conversation pits he built will live on for a long, long time. A lot of people theorize about democratizing the public square and bringing new voices and sources into conversations about politics and culture. Breitbart actually did it. It wasn’t always perfect and it wasn’t always pretty (ask Shirley Sherrod, the former Department of Agriculture official who sued him for defamation), but he blazed a path that surely leads to a far richer and more interesting mediascape than the one we all grew up with.
I don’t really know what speaking “more loudly or fully means” nor do I quite get what is meant by “democratizing the public square” with “new voices and sources into conversations about politics and culture.” My take is that if you are interested in politicians’ crotch shots or Anthony Michael Hall look-a-likes dressed up as Superfly to dupe “liberal special interest groups,” then Breitbart was indeed your guy. However, I would point to Sacha Cohen as more of pioneer in this media space–and a much more of an entertaining one at that. If, however, you are interested in such mundane matters as secret US military operations in North Africa, the Middle East, Southern and Western Asia, then I would respectfully stick with that bastion of lifestyle consumerist mediascape, al-jazeera. Unfortunately, they ain’t available on my satellite TV, yet. And don’t hold your breath…