Christopher David, a candidate for Henry Waxman's federal House seat in California's 33rd District, who I interviewed for my book Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired, tells me he came into the Ron Paul world in 2007 from the left, attracted to the only candidate speaking a believable antiwar message. At antiwar rallies during the Bush years, he recalls, he was "surrounded by lefties holding signs for every left cause under the sun, which got me thinking I guess I was a leftist; I didn't see anyone else vocally opposing the warmongering of the Bush administration." David figured early in the last race he'd vote Obama; he couldn't vote Kerry in '04, thinking him just "Bush lite."
Then he saw Ron Paul's famous moment (the moment at the start of Ron Paul's Revolution) at the May 2007 South Carolina GOP presidential debate, speaking intelligently and passionately about blowback and 9/11 and not backing down when Rudy Giuliani bullied him about it. "It was the first time ever I heard any elected official use the term "blowback" and know what they talking about," David says. "It was amazing to me, and the fact on that it was a Republican doing it was just shocking. That got me looking into Ron Paul, because I knew that took courage for him. Getting familiar with Paul and his philosophy, within two months I was the card-carrying libertarian spouting Rothbard to anyone who would listen." He was part of the army of youth campaigning for Paul in the blistering cold leading up to the 2008 Iowa caucus.
David went on to live for a while in the Free State of New Hampshire "in a house with seven other Free Staters in the middle of the woods with a firing range in the backyard" and to work with the Paulite youth group Young Americans for Liberty (where he tried to launch a national "Year of Youth" campaign to encourage young people to not just help other candidates but to run themselves, advice he's now following) and launched the Paulite new media site Revolutimes and moved out to Los Angeles, from which he is running for Henry Waxman's House seat in the 33rd district as a Republican. (Among his competitors are Libertarian Steve Collett and Democrat Bruce Margolin, famous for his work as a defense attorney in pot cases.)
Reason: Tell us about yourself.
Christopher David: I am a 25-year-old entrepreneur and activist running for the U.S. House in California's 33rd congressional district, which spans the coast of Los Angeles from Malibu to Palos Verdes and includes Beverly Hills. A number of factors brought me to run, one of the biggest is that I believe there are too few advocates in Washington for the kind of real systemic transformative change that I think voters really want, and despite an array of very flawed candidates they have been trying to send that message that they are looking for something completely different. We saw that in 2008 with Barack Obama and the beginning of the Ron Paul movement, saw it more in 2010 with the Tea Party and I think we will see it even more this year. I think the action this year will be with the liberty leaning candidates, candidates inspired by Ron Paul.
It's completely obvious if you look at Romney and Obama that there is a huge absence of excitement, excitement that only really Ron Paul is channeling, and so I think Ron Paul will go out with a bang at the Tampa convention. This will be a year of Ron Paul passing the baton not to any one person but to a whole movement. The great strength of the Ron Paul movement has been its very decentralization and though it's obvious Rand Paul will probably be a candidate in 2016 for president, you're going to see an explosion of people inspired by Ron Paul entering.
Reason: I saw you are being directly attacked in some direct mail by an independent opponent, Bill Bloomfield.
David: A closet establishment Republican running as an independent. He is a wealthy guy spending a lot of his own money, probably well over a hundred thousand, to get out that mailer with my picture on it, so he sees me as his greatest obstacle. I know from talking to people who went to one of his private meet-and-greets that he trashed me as someone who "channels Ron Paul," and attacks me for being an inexperienced kid who is new to California.
This represents a gambit by the establishment Republicans to adapt to California's Prop 14 [which has created a system with one general primary for all candidates out of which the two top winners go to the general election in November]. A lot of establishment Republicans are backing Bloomfield either privately or publicly. The state Republican Party did refuse to endorse me despite the fact that I'm the only Republican on the ballot. The county party endorsed me, I have pretty good relations with the county party. But former Gov. Pete Wilson is sending out letters paid for by Bloomfield against me. This will be a great case study for using the liberty grassroots to overcome the structural disadvantages of being a young liberty candidate with no establishment support against a cynical political move to hide one's status as an establishment Republican who had given over 25 thousand to the national Republican establishment including NRCC and Boehner–will that cynical move [of running as an independent] to fool voters into thinking that this fellow is actually independent work?
I blasted out an email to the Republican Party of L.A. County Central Committee attacking Bloomfield and am about to send out mass emails to individual Republicans all over the district, taking Bloomfield to task for being a coward because he did not show up at either of our two debates, most recently at UCLA, he's just hiding in his house spending money tearing me down. He's too afraid to make those accusations in person while he's trying to buy the race.
Reason: How has the Republican establishment treated you?
David: The county party has been very cordial to me. They endorsed me. I'm not sure to what degree that's because I'm the only Republican in the race. I made it clear to the party establishment I'm here willing to work with them, I'm a big tent kind of guy even though philosophically and historically I come to the GOP because of Ron Paul. I see it as a big exercise in discovering ways to talk about Ron Paul's ideas and build coalitions that could actually have political power to implement his ideas, though it's definitely an incremental process.
I'm placing economic issues front and center, specifically the debt, an issue that very quickly leads to a conversation about how America is in dire need of really systemic transformative change because the current path is unsustainable. America has a political class motivated not by what's best for America, certainly not what's best for my generation, but feathering their nests and guaranteeing themselves a nice retirement if they kick the can down the road, so they expect my generation to clean up their mess. If people ask me why I'm running for Congress right now, why don't I start at the bottom with local office, I say my generation does not have the luxury of waiting 20 years to clean up the mess that the political class is leaving for us because we may well not be a constitutional republic in 20 years. I believe youth deserve a voice on the national level. If we demonstrate that we can unseat incumbent politicians who have been there for years with a new generation of leaders that will put the fear of life into them.
Reason: Was it a given you'd run as a Republican, given your antiwar background?
David: Though my main issue has been antiwar, I also embrace most of the liberty platform as endorsed by Ron Paul and I really value what Ron Paul is trying to do to restore the ideas of non-interventionism and limited government to the Republican Party. So I wanted to run not just for my own sake but to help advance the movement that Ron Paul started.
I do think there is room for liberty candidates with the Democratic Party though. My campaign is all about transpartisan coalition building. The powers that be are so powerful because they keep people divided into red and blue teams and the only real way their grip on power will be lessened is if more people realize that the true battle is the people vs. the establishment. I am open to strategies that build bridges between groups supposedly at odds—I have a huge opportunity to do that because I'm running as a Republican in a very Democratic district, but because of Prop 14 primary system I am only the only Republican in the race, so I have been already in talks with a few of the other candidates from opposing parties and since only one of us is going to make the general against Waxman it allows for a meaningful team effort against the incumbent.
Reason: What does it involve, running for office?
David: Being mentally willing to put yourself on the line, to give up a lot of business opportunities, and just being willing to take the slings and arrows going up as a newbie republican against the Democratic machine of Los Angeles that was named after the guy I'm running against. It's a very David v. Goliath scenario and I embrace the role of underdog. But I'm confident that aligning myself with rising libertarianism and making use of the cutting-edge political technology and Internet-based tools will give me significant traction.
You need phone banking, I'm about to start walking door to door, online advertising, YouTube video advertising to people in my district. To win the primary I have to rely on Republican votes so I'm going to lots of GOP events and debates. You have to be prepared to do a lot yourself if you aren't able to attract or afford expensive campaign consultants. But you just file your FEC forms, put up a website and Facebook page and start to spread the word.
Reason: How's fundraising?
David: Against a guy like Waxman who is so entrenched it's not easy, especially as a total unknown in the district and also what people perceive to be a 25-year-old kid. But enough for basics like literature and basic advertising. I think people are waiting to see who comes out of the primary to face off against Waxman and then the money will flow more easily and I have some cool tricks for leveraging the power of the Internet like Ron Paul did. But I'm willing to put the time in door to door and pound the pavement every day.
Reason: How about media?
David: Normal media? Short answer, no, almost no media coverage or interest in this race at all. In 2010 there were five Republicans in the GOP primary and the winner of that did not even get Waxman to seriously engage him, Waxman ignored him and still won by 32 points. But if he faces me in the general I will be pulling a Rick Santorum [in terms of diligent retail campaigning] for five months, and I would love to force him to have to really campaign.
Reason: Advice to anyone thinking of maybe running for office?
David: Just run. You will learn so much in the process and if you can learn the basics of running a conventional campaign and learn how to combine that with the best organizational dynamics of the liberty grassroots, whether in this cycle or a future cycle, learn how to turn that combination into a strong competitive edge in a lot of districts could be enough to pull off an upset. We need new leaders to pick up the baton Ron Paul is handing us so the best way to learn is by doing.
David's campaign video: