For a man as popular and influential as Mark Levin, it may come as a surprise that there is no complete biography of him. But, during his many years on the air, some hints about his formative years and views have come through.
More than anything, Mark Levin is a patriot. His patriotism is deeply rooted in his family, many of whom fought in World War II. Levin’s father, Jack Levin, was in the Army Air Corps during the war. His great uncle fought at Guadalcanal and his grandfather fought in Guam and at Iwo Jima. When he was a young man, Jack Levin took a train from Philadelphia to Washington DC for the first time. Washington was a Dixiecrat town at the time, so he witnessed segregation firsthand. It was one of the experiences that motivated him to join the Republican Party.
“My parents are the salt of the Earth. They’re the hard-working, middle class people every politician claims to represent, but few do,” Mark Levin said. “My parents were always patriotic. They’ve always loved this country. They’ve always appreciated the freedom America offers.”
“Everything I am I owe to my parents,” Levin says.
Levin grew up outside Philadelphia.
As a teenager, he listened to his favorite talk shows on his transistor radio. To this day, former host Bill Corsair still remembers when Levin would call into the show. Levin also recalls:
“When I was thirteen, fourteen years old, I used to take the train into Philadelphia, walk about a mile, or two to Independence Hall and I would stand there for hours…. I’d say, wow, these men were here. I would walk on the cobble paths where they would walk. I would look at the chair that Washington and others sat in.”
Levin says he “must have done” this trip “fifty times.”
When he was about 18 or 20 years old, Levin received a scholarship to travel around Europe. In Germany, Levin took the opportunity to board a bus into East Berlin. The bus went down one street for four blocks. On that street there was a series of fake shops. Levin asked the tour guide, “Why don’t you take us a few miles into the city?” She pretended she couldn’t understand. The last stop was a souvenir shop, where Levin bought something to remind himself of the hell that was Communism.
The memento is an ugly little doll. Even 40 years later, while showing it to his LevinTV audience, Levin can barely contain his disgust: “Number 1: Look how crude it is; Number 2: Look at the stereotype! LOOK at the stereotype!!! And they were proud of this!”
In 1976, Levin supported Reagan for the Republican nomination, but Reagan was narrowly defeated. During the campaign, Levin met Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada, who warned him that “each day Congress meets, we lose a little bit of our liberty.” Levin supported Reagan again in 1980.
“I came to Washington at the very beginning of the Reagan administration, and I worked for the director of an agency called the Action Agency,” Levin reflected. The agency made grants and worked with poor communities. Under Carter, the director of the agency had been a radical leftist, Sam Brown.
Levin found “a bunch of cartons. Big boxes. All kinds of radica
l literature that had been purchased by the federal taxpayer and sent to these poor communities by VISTA. And in those boxes were hundreds of copies of Saul Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals’… In other words, our government was paying for a revolution in our inner cities through this agency.” The radical leftists “feared me and they had every reason to fear me. I went through their databases, I found things that would stun you, and we defunded them.”
Within a few years, Levin was working as chief of staff to the Attorney General, Ed Meese. Perhaps the most important legacy of Meese and his staff was reviving the judicial philosophy of originalism. This battle remained a central issue of Levin’s work after leaving the government in 1988. He became president of Landmark Legal Foundation, where he fought for conservative causes in court.
On May 5, 2002, the Mark Levin Show went on the air for the first time. And the rest is history.
I’ve always leaned towards conservatism. But, having grown up surrounded by liberals, I had not heard an articulate explanation of the conservative philosophy until I was introduced to Mark Levin’s book, Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto. Levin sounds a call to battle in the final sentence of his book: “We Conservatives need to get busy.”
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.