CRTV’s The Dan Bongino Show has recently been ranked number 6 on Top Charts for “News and Politics” podcasts. It began as a modest, once a week show published only on Sunday’s, but has since been downloaded tens of millions of times and is one of the fastest growing podcast followings in the country. While his life is an inspiration in itself, he is developing into a new breed of conservative, one that is trying to bridge the divide between the aging establishment and the passionate millennial contingency.
Dan Bongino’s life of service began with the New York City Police Department from 1995 to 1999, after which he joined the Secret Service. He was assigned to the U.S. Presidential Protection Division during George W. Bush’s term and continued to serve throughout the Obama administration. Describing his time in the Secret Service he said, “I didn’t just like being a Secret Service agent, I loved it.”
Bongino explains that he is a conservatarian who wants to advance the ideology, but whose political advocacy was stunted by law, specifically the Hatch Act of 1939. The Hatch Act is a Federal law that forbids employees in the Executive Branch from engaging in particular forms of political activity. After years of compelled silence, he left the Secret Service in 2011 to transition into a life in politics. He explains, “I gave up everything– I walked away completely because I just felt like I couldn’t fight the fight with that job, due to the simple restrictions.”
He was quickly stunted again. He ran for the U.S. Senate in Maryland in 2012 and won the Republican primary, but lost the November campaign. In 2014 and 2016, Bongino ran two different times to be a congressman. Bongino lost the election for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District in 2011, and he lost Florida’s 18th congressional district in 2016. He questioned his resignation from the Secret Service.
A third career presented itself to him. He said, “I remembered reading an article saying how all of these young kids, that they were abandoning terrestrial radio and the car radio was dead and it was all going to be about podcasting.” He thought this might where he could help the younger generation hear a different message. Bongino continued, “So I said to my wife ‘well, ya know, we’re always talking about how to influence the next generation and how to get our ideas across. I mean, they’re saturated with left-wing junk everywhere else they turn. I think we should start a podcast.’”
That idea, he explains, was controversial. It cost about $10,000 in equipment and the family did not want to deal with yet another loss. It took three to four months before the show finally took off. After that, it grew substantially each month. Dan Bongino says that his ability to take complex concepts and simplify them set his show apart. “We would deep dive into economics stuff, the housing crisis,” he said. “I would give a kind of common sense, everyday man, economic approach to what went wrong.”
His show originally focused on what he was passionate about, economics. Bongino has a graduate degree in business and finance. His background also gives him the knowledge and ability to do deep, investigative work. His biggest spike, what really blew his show out of the water, was episode 628 where they dove into the Trump-Russia spying scandal. After that, downloads spiked. With a smile, he said, “Last month we did over two million downloads and even today’s show now, we may cross over 100,000 downloads today alone.”
What keeps his audience listening? Why were they drawn to his political analysis? Dan Bongino explained that after 500 or so listener emails, “I’ve heard this comment more than any other comment, ‘ya know, I never quite thought about that that way.’ I think it’s my way of breaking down the news of the day using stories and analogies and simple explanations to explain why the left does what it does.” By focusing on the why part of a story, his show climbs above the rest. Because of his background in law enforcement and education, Dan Bongino can speak with authority on multiple topics that are relevant in the news cycle today.
When looking back at his runs for office and his service, Bongino explains that he is confident in where he is today, “I’m done with politics. I tried that route, I thought it maybe would be a good avenue to shake up the system a little bit, but it wasn’t for me.” Bongino accepts the three losses he faced in politics, explaining that it was “the greatest thing that could ever happen to me. I wouldn’t trade a seat in Congress right now or the Senate if you gave it to me. I don’t want it. We have found a voice, we have found a following, [and] we have found an avenue to advance conservative ideas that we would have never had as a member of Congress.”
In the end, he may become a significant voice to college aged conservatives. His life shows what dogged individualism and an entrepreneurial spirit can accomplish– even in the face of consecutive defeats. Perhaps more importantly, he may begin to connect the old and young in the conservative movement, a disparity few are trying to correct.