One of the more passionate Ron Paul activists I met in the course of researching my out-soon book Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired was Los Angeles-based corporate trial lawyer Rick Williams, who is now running for the federal Senate, challenging incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein.
Because of California's new post-Prop. 14 primary system, he isn't really vying for the nomination of the Republican Party. He's merely one of many candidates, including Feinstein, on the primary ballot on June 5. And the top two, of whatever party, will be the ones on the ballot for the general election in November. Feinstein will almost certainly be one, and Mr. Williams, who called himself a "Ron Paul Republican" when I interviewed him for my book, hopes to be another.
I talked to him by phone yesterday. Here is an edited transcription of our conversation.
Reason: Introduce yourself to our readers.
Rick Williams: My name is Rick Williams and I'm a candidate for U.S. Senate. My background is in finance and law and I believe the most pressing issues by far our country faces are the runaway deficit and debt culture created by politicians and bankers in D.C. and I'm running to put a stop to that. I'm all about cutting spending and ending the counterfeiting in D.C. Financial issues are my expertise.
I graduated from UCLA Law School where I was on the board of editors of the UCLA Law Review. I've been a law professor at Pepperdine, written two legal books, I've been on the board of trustees of the Pacific Legal Foundation, a property rights public interest law group in Sacramento.
My primary expertise in many years as a trial lawyer has been as a business trial lawyer in many of the larger business and corporate lawsuits in the history of the state of California. I bring that trial lawyer expertise and passion and strong trial lawyer voice to my U.S. Senate campaign.
I've been a liberty activist my entire life, supported many candidates over the years. I ran as a slate leader for Republican Central Committee in L.A. County in 2010, but this is my first run for a public office. I'm running as a citizen politician, not a life politician. I'm still very much a practicing lawyer. We need in D.C. politicians that aren't dependent on politics for their livelihood.
Reason: Do you consider yourself in the Ron Paul tradition?
Williams: Ron Paul stands for many of the values I stand for: limited constitutional governance, sound money, noninterventionist foreign policy, a lot of the vision of the founders of our country is being expressed today through Ron Paul. I got started with him in '07, and supported his campaign again in 2012 and still am very much a believer in the philosophy he stands for and I have tremendous respect for the way he has rallied young people and people of all ages around the country to this message we need to cut the size of government.
Reason: Do you find 2012 a propitious year to jump into politics?
Williams: All we have to do is look around us to see the financial collapse of governance at all levels. The federal government is bankrupt. The government in California is bankrupt. In the city of L.A. we are bankrupt. As a result of big government policies over decades the whole system is falling to pieces. That's why I decided to run as a voice for fiscal responsibility and sanity.
I started thinking about it two years go and formed an exploratory committee and I found a lot of support all around California, saying someone has to step forward and do something about runaway government. I got the nomination signature work with the county recorder, got paperwork filed, then for the last several months I have been going speaking to Republican Tea Party groups and general audiences all around California. I speak several times a week, as much as I can, meet people, shake hands, that's what politicians do.
Reason: How's fundraising?
Williams: I've raised a significant amount, but nothing close to the millions and millions we've seen candidates spending in past here in California. I think that model failed, that idea of coming in with 20 million and buying the election. That hasn't worked for Republicans in California. I think politicians are going to become more organic, if you don't have a base of grassroots support you won't make it.
My base of support is certainly the Ron Paul supporters who are trying to get him elected. They are out working phones, going precinct walking for Ron Paul coming up to June 5 primary. I'll be on the same ballot with Ron Paul so my campaign and Ron Paul's campaign are running parallel and people who vote for Ron Paul in the primary can also vote for me. That is a starting point but I've made real attempts to reach beyond the Ron Paul community, it has to be broader than that.
Reason: How do you get the message out?
Williams: I'm planning a radio blitz over the last month of the campaign, that's the most cost effective tool to get the message out. I have the money to do that, voters will hear my radio ads very soon in major population centers. The ads message is cut the spending, cut the spending, end the counterfeiting, end the counterfeiting, that's what I have to say to D.C.
Reason: How have you been received?
Williams: I think most of the people I talked to have found my message very refreshing. You don't find many politicians actually talking in a serious way about cutting federal spending. My proposal is cut by one trillion in my first year in office and end the counterfeiting done by the Federal Reserve. No other Senate candidate is saying that.
Reason: How has the lack of a specific party primary in California now affected your campaign?
Williams: It has been a very positive thing for my campaign because my message is very much appealing to independent voters and even to Democrats disgusted with what they see in their own party. But I am running as a Republican, I'm a lifelong Republican but I'm running as a different kind of Republican and this new primary system allows candidates like me to appeal to voters across party lines.
I certainly have a lot of friends who are active in the mainstream official GOP but what I see happening is here in LA county, my home base, more than 100 people who are Rick Williams supporters and Ron Paul supporters are running for Central Committee and moving into positions of leadership themselves within party apparatus, we are seeing a fundamental changeover in terms of people who are leaders, the new leaders of GOP are people coming in in support of my values of limited government. The Party is changing. On the same ballot in the primary every voter is going to get a slate of Central Committee candidates for their own Assembly district and many, many of those people share my principles of limited government.
Reason: How about press coverage?
Williams: Not as much as I'd like. Just yesterday the Sacramento Bee hosted a very successful online chat forum with 12 candidates participating. I admire the Bee for putting that together and allow candidates to get their message out. I would like to see more of that. Mostly state and local media are ignoring the race entirely, none of the candidates in this U.S. Senate race have received any significant media attention.
Reason: Do you get asked how much you can accomplish as just one Senator of 100 even if you win?
Williams: I reject that thinking. I'm very much a believer that one strong powerful voice, one trial lawyer's voice, can go out and change everything. I believe I'm that voice.
Reason: You also believe in media as a path for liberty-oriented reform….
Williams: I am chairman of a liberty oriented media company called Revolutimes. Mainstream media give a very biased and almost ridiculous view of what politics truly is and we need new media outlets to change the media landscape, and we are trying to venture in the for-profit new media field and offer a broader range of ideas than you see on old fading media outlets.
Reason: Do you talk non-interventionist foreign policy in this mostly fiscal-based campaign?
Williams: I talk about it all the time. My approach to foreign policy is not to try to argue with people about whether we should or should not be involved in the Middle East or Afghanistan. My approach is much more pragmatic. I say our federal government is bankrupt and can't afford to be policemen of the world even if we wanted to. $4 trillion worth of debt over the last ten years have come from overseas military involvement and it's been a failure for us, we haven't gotten good value for it. A sound economy here at home is the single most important thing to protect national security.
Reason: I've heard you express pretty strong fears about where our country might be heading…
Williams: Putting it in blunt terms, what we see with the financial and fiscal crises in America is a real test of our political system. It needs to either solve these financial crises with candidates like me who believe in limited government that lives within its means or the political system itself will fail, like we see in Greece. If we don't solve it with real political solutions the issue will be solved in some other way and I don't like what I see. It could be civil unrest if the political system cannot solve the financial crisis.
Pragmatism is not enough. We simply must have a cultural moment where the American people in a very broad sense understand that the type of runaway big government philosophy we lived under for the last period of decades is a failure and that we have to recognize that we have to live within our means. When that happens a candidate like me will rise to the forefront but we can't just talk pocketbooks. We have to talk culture itself. The culture of entitlement and government handouts we've been living under, that culture is over. The American people need to catch up to that truth.