The New Testament Gospel of John tells the story of Philip, one of the first disciples of Jesus Christ. With all the ardent fervor of a new follower,
Philip seeks out his brother, Nathanael, and exclaims that he has found the Messiah, “Jesus of Nazareth.” The reader can picture Nathanael looking askance in response, as he postulates, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”
I’m reluctant to admit this, but lately, I share that same skeptical sentiment whenever I hear about any idea or person that originates in California. There was, however, a happy ending to John’s story; Nathanael came around fairly quickly. Similarly, California’s modern contributions to the nation are, thankfully, not confined to the likes of Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer. The Golden State is still producing patriots such as Chuck and Diane Devore, Jenny and Leif Erikson, Brittany Cohan…and Erin Brown.
Technically, Erin does reside in Virginia now, but she was a lifelong Southern California native for the bulk of her youth, until her family
impoverished the area by leaving it. In Erin’s case, California’s loss has inarguably constituted Virginia’s gain. Erin exemplifies what the Democrat/media complex would contend is an oxymoron: a beautiful young conservative woman of deep conviction, tempered by a radiantly sweet spirit and pungently optimistic outlook.
If you aren’t following Erin’s journey as she develops her chops as a writer and journalist, you should be. She has an unerring eye for culture and media stories with a worthy hook, and draws attention to these items that might otherwise escape the scrutiny they merit. We need media watchdogs in the conservative movement who contribute both substance and style to their coverage. Erin fits that bill!
10 Questions for Erin Brown
1. Very few people who work in the conservative movement in Washington, DC grew up there. I presume you’re no exception?
Yup, I’m not a D.C. native. I was born in Orange County, California, and spent the first 12 years of my life in Southern California. I spent 10 years in Lake Arrowhead, California (a small mountain town where lots of celebrities had vacation homes) and it was simply gorgeous up there. Small town feel, above the L.A. smog, gorgeous pine trees and lakes, and living up there, you could experience all four seasons. I was 20 minutes from the ski slopes and an hour from the beach- talk about a perfect location!
My dad’s job moved us to D.C. in 1999 and I’ve been in the D.C. suburbs ever since. Virginia has grown on me and now that we’re under Governor Bob McDonnell, I’m happier than ever. 🙂 I miss my family and the beautiful towns in California, but not the high taxes and ridiculous nanny-state policies those whack-o liberals are enacting. I shake my head and my heart grieves for the good tax-paying citizens of the Golden State that are suffering that kind of political abuse. However, I love being near D.C. and I think God has me here for a reason.
2. You are one of my best friends in the conservative movement who is also a committed evangelical Christian. How does practice of the one impact the other and vice versa?
I am a follower of Christ first and foremost. I wish to be defined as a child of God before I am defined as an American conservative. I use my knowledge of the Bible, my personal relationship with Christ and the basic guidelines He set for His children as principles that rule my life, and a
filter through which I view and discuss politics. That’s not to say I blindly repeat Biblical passages when I get in a political discussion, as if my faith is nothing but a blind repetition of religious text. It’s much more than that. God gave us brains, and He encourages us to engage them and get them out of neutral.
I think the Bible hints at principles of personal responsibility, reaping what you sow, teaching a man to fish, and valuing innocent life above
all else that we see permeating our dialogue in 21st Century politics, and influencing the traditional standards of conservatism. I think there are some very clear cut answers in the Bible, especially for the particularly divisive social issues conservatives stand for, from which we can glean a clear vision of God’s opinion on the subject. But it is not always so cut and dry.
There is not always a perfect intersection where my faith and my conservative principles align. But for those “grayer” areas about which the Bible and Jesus do not speak clearly… well, that’s when I rely on history, common sense, and that thing called a brain, that God gave us. Our founding
fathers were men of great vision, great intellect, and also great faith. I believe we live in a more perfect union BECAUSE our founders were men of great faith AND great intellect. Reliance on God, common sense reasoning, and deep intelligence can all beautifully coexist inside the human mind, and I think our founders were brilliant examples of what its like to have one’s faith impact politics and vice versa.
3. You attended James Madison University (along with another alumnus of this series: @MattCover!). Were the two of you acquainted at that time and did JMU influence your eventual career choice?
I sure did! Go Dukes! Yes, Matt and I met the end of our freshman year in the College Republicans club and have been friends ever since (more than 6 years!) Matt and I have many stories of campaigning for former governor George Allen for Senate in 2006 and placing hundreds of yard signs in the yard of the Democratic Party headquarters in Harrisonburg, VA (where JMU is located). We attended debate watching parties, hosted great conservative speakers on campus like Dinesh D’Souza and just to piss off the hippie liberals on campus, we had a VERY public Animal Rights BBQ in which some awesome redneck hooked us up with roadkill that we threw on the grill. (I did not eat it, for the record). Yeah, that got our liberal counterparts up in arms.
I picked JMU for a few reasons, some of them more shallow than I’d like to admit. It was in state (yay for in state tuition and graduating without debt!) but more importantly, it had great connections in DC and a fantastic journalism and political program. But what really solidified my decision to attend JMU was the fact that I knew many JMU alumni, and not a single one regretted his or her decision to attend Madison. Not one had a bad word to say about it. I completely echo their sentiments – I feel blessed to have attended James Madison University, whose namesake is my favorite founding father.
4. How would you describe your role at the Media Research Center?
Haha, another loaded question, as I have held three different positions at MRC. I began as an intern, then worked in the development department for a year, and have now been writing full time for more than nine months. I am a staff writer for the cultural division (Culture and Media Institute) and my job changes from day to day. I sometimes spend weeks researching Nexis, reading transcripts and watching broadcasts to expose the liberal media bias in cultural reporting. For example, in 2008, I worked on a Special Report that documented the character
assassination of Sarah Palin by the mainstream media and it got picked up on Brett Baier’s Fox News show, “Special Report.”
Depending on the day, I’m either monitoring the bias on “The View,” reading the Washington Post, flipping through Entertainment Weekly, watching “Good Morning America,” reviewing this week’s episode of “Glee”, or like I said, up to my ears in research. But to boil it down, my goal is to document and expose the cultural media bias that exists in the mainstream media – I cover faith, family, patriotism, life, entertainment
5. What entertainment options do you enjoy in the following categories: Books, Movies, Foods, Musical Artists and…whatever other random fields you’d like to add?
Books: The Bible (specifically Ruth–her loyalty is inspiring). Pretty much anything by Ann Coulter (I’ve read almost all of hers), and the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe.
Movies: Top 2 = The Count of Monte Cristo and Gone with the Wind.
Food: Chilean green grapes. (Yeah, it’s in my twitter profile). I could eat them every day for the rest of my life. I often tell people that I think God created them just for me. I love coffee, Midori sours, a good rack of tender baby back ribs, and I’ve never met a salad I didn’t like.
Music: My style is entirely eclectic. I enjoy everything from Steely Dan to Michael Jackson to Three Days Grace and Muse to Steve Miller band to Tenth Avenue North to Jerry Lee Lewis to Bruce Hornsby. Oh, and I love the Rippingtons. (late 80s and early 90s smooth jazz ensemble – they’re amazing).
Dangerous Activity: using my extended tire pressure gauge to play the air drums on my hour+ commute home on the Beltway
Form of therapy: playing anything on my baby grand piano
Toilet Paper: Charmin
6. You’re not exactly a newlywed, but you haven’t been married a terribly long time, either! Tell us about your husband.
Yeah, somewhere between a newlywed and old married woman- married three years this August. Wow, where do I start? Kyle is a tender man and the most amazing provider. He’s been with me for over six years and has seen me cry, yell, throw up and get in a minor car accident. (I took a turn too fast in the rain!) He’s heard me pray, seen me weep, watched me sin and held my hand through it all. He’s the most solid, predictable man I know, and I value how God has blessed him. He’s goofy and sweet and an amazing chef. What can I say? He completes me. Oh and he’s a freakin’ stud.
7. What does it mean to be a cultural conservative?
At the core I think it means that you value and do your utmost to uphold the principles set by our founders, respecting everything that is traditional and sacred about America. Cultural conservatives value innocent life, freedom of religion, and above all, personal responsibility.
8. How do you feel so far about the 2012 field and our chances in general, especially given the brand new unemployment number (9.2%)?!?!
I am a waiter, so to speak. There is WAY too much time between now and November 2012 for any serious pontificating, in my opinion. There is too much time for the Chris Christies to join the race, the Jon Huntsmans to come out of left field and the Newt Gingrichs to commit gaffes. That’s not to say I don’t have my favorites right now, but as far as the field is in general, it’s somewhat exciting, but very diverse. We have scholars, lawyers, career politicians, parents, business owners and solid conservatives all represented in the candidates we see playing the field right now. I’m encouraged by the prospects I see, but I’m also a pessimist at heart. I know the power the media has to influence the race and we have unfortunately witnessed the sheep-like cowardice of the American people to be swayed by a shallow slogan and desire for that ambiguous “change.” My fear is that the GOP will not solidly unite behind a single candidate and that there will be infighting in the party, which will present an unattractive option to the independent voters, therefore splitting the vote, with the majority going to reelect Obama. I PRAY that is not the
case. However, the American people are strong, vibrant, and generally very smart. If a conservative candidate with a strong record and presence at the podium takes the nomination, then I think we have no problem ousting the current occupant. If the candidate takes a page from the playbook of Carville and Stephanopolous circa ‘91 and ‘92 by hammering home “It’s the economy, stupid” (or as of this week perhaps, “It’s the jobs, stupid”) our chances improve significantly. Only time will tell.
9. Who are 3 prominent conservatives that you admire today?
I’m going to avoid the typical “Reagan” answer. Haha, that is just too easy. You said “prominent” so here goes.
Rush Limbaugh – I grew up with Rush. No really, I did. My dad listened to Rush when he was just beginning his radio career out of Sacramento, California – I had his call-in number (1-800-282-2882) memorized before my home phone number – while still in my car seat. And I would apparently recite it along with Rush. The man has endured every kind of attack on his character and his person, and he still brilliantly continues forging a path of conservative thought. He distills complex concepts into nuggets that the masses can feast on, and THAT is no easy task. He’s a
master of his art, and he refuses to compromise.
Ann Coulter – Sorry to mention her AGAIN, but the woman has basically no filter and in a politically correct-obsessed society, she is a refreshing voice. She speaks the truth without love – and that takes guts.
George W. Bush – in the most clichéd of ways, he was a true leader. He went with his gut, trusted those around him and made decisions he thought were right, even if they were somewhat unpopular. His faith in God and true humility are qualities that we lack in leaders today, since what defines a “leader” in 2011 is someone who steps on others in order to climb to the top. Bush was a deep man who weighed heavily the decisions he made as commander in chief, ceding ultimately to a higher authority. He used the courage of conviction, not the money floated by lobbyists or direction of opinion polls to make decisions. In my opinion, that is admirable.
10. I’m always especially interested in what twentysomethings think they might be doing in 10 years…so this seems like the proper place to conclude?
In ten years I’ll be 35, so I will hopefully be wrinkle-free and still 113 lbs. Just kidding. Seriously though, if God wills, I would love to be a mother, and still actively involved in the conservative movement in some way. Writing is my passion, so I can’t ever foresee giving that up. I’d love to write campaign speeches, but I have a long road ahead of me if that is to be accomplished. But ultimately, I want my life to glorify God. If He is being reflected in my life in any way, then I can say I’ve accomplished what I’ve set out to do.