By Francisco Gonzalez, JMI Development Director
You know you’re having an impact when pop culture starts responding. And this has begun to happen in some really big ways for several right-of-center activists.Take for example my good friend James O’Keefe and his colleague Hannah Giles. Last year, with $1500 and a video camera, they produced a blockbuster undercover investigation into the left wing interest group, ACORN. Posing as a pimp and a prostitute, James and Hannah revealed systemic corruption in multiple offices nationwide, documenting the facilitation of child prostitution, human trafficking and tax evasion. Spurred by their investigations, the Democrat-controlled U.S. House and Senate quickly voted to defund ACORN, and the U.S. Census cut ties with the group thus forcing ACORN to shut down.Within the next few weeks, James and Hannah’s operation broke into pop culture with several segments of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show defending their actions against a hostile mainstream media. Next came an entire episode of South Park spoofing the ACORN prostitution scandal.Or, take my friend John O’Hara, Vice President of External Relations for JMI’s sister organization, the Illinois Policy Institute, and author of the book A New American Tea Party. As part of his book tour, John was interviewed by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Although Stewart took him to task, he gave John a fair hearing. Staying on message, John came across as credible – and normal – selling books as well as the Tea Party as a credible, mainstream movement to a left of center audience.Then there’s my friend and co-author Brendan Steinhauser, Director of Federal and State Campaigns at FreedomWorks. Last week Brendan appeared on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report to talk about his role as a leader in the Tea Party movement and explain why the Tea Party is “actually at the dead center of American politics.” After Colbert starts picking on some fringe, self-proclaimed tea party candidates, Brendan points out, “I guess anyone can be a Tea Party person. You are probably a Tea Party person,” to which Colbert replied, “I wish I was running for public office, but I have this stupid show to do.”And that’s exactly right. Outside of public office, Stephen Colbert, John Stewart, Brendan Steinhauser, John O’Hara, James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles are all having a bigger impact on public opinion than most politicians ever could.Even Rush Limbaugh, who has spent his career railing against the mainstream media, went on one of the most popular animated shows in prime time and played himself on the Family Guy. “If you can’t laugh at yourself, there’s no reason to be alive,” he said, but we all know Rush wouldn’t participate if he didn’t think it was a chance to get his message heard among a wider audience. And that’s the idea.Kudos to all my right-of-center friends for making their ideas heard in places where they usually are not. Let us follow their example.