California seems a lost cause for conservatives around the country, an ungovernable wasteland of militant liberalism and one-party Democratic rule. The fight over the Republican Party’s future in the state is in part being fought in California’s 7th Congressional District primary, as three candidates battle it out to challenge the district’s beatable Democratic Representative, Ami Bera.
One of the GOP candidates, Igor Birman, is a former aide to California conservative stalwart Rep. Tom McClintock and is running his first campaign. The case of McClintock and Birman is emblematic of the larger struggle for the soul of the California Republican Party as they have both energized conservatives in the state but have come under attack by moderate to liberal Republicans. Birman faces off against two Republicans, former Rep. Doug Ose and Elizabeth Emken.
Birman has received a number of high-profile endorsements, including: Freedomworks, former Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and most recently Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
Sen. Paul said in his endorsement that Birman is a “strong and passionate defender of liberty. Our nation needs Igor in the halls of Congress and I will do all I can to help get his voice to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.”
Candidate Birman, an immigrant from Russia who lived under the tyranny and collapse of the Soviet Union and came with his family to the United States in 1994 and became a citizen when he was 19, spoke to Breitbart News about the loss of freedom in California, how liberty has been taken for granted by Americans, and ultimately the message that he believes will return the Golden State to the American dream within the American dream.
He explained to Breitbart News how grateful he is to be an American, and how his parents as Russian Jews fled a repressive regime to come to a land with “no jobs, no leads, no friends, nothing.” They had nothing but the “faith in the power of freedom.”
With nothing but that faith, Birman’s parents quickly obtained good jobs and became highly successful. His dad was a physicist; his mom became a web designer, and though they struggled initially they became homeowners in five years.
Birman said, “My parents risked their lives to get me and my brother out of the collapsed Soviet Union. I mean they exhibited an incredible degree of courage that I respect to no extent.”
This appreciation for the sacrifice of his parents and how freedom led to their success drives and motivates Birman. He said that “the problem in America is that we’ve taken our freedoms for granted for much too long. Ronald Reagan was right that freedom is not ours by inheritance, we have to fight for it.”
What has been most disturbing to Birman is that the government has “grown far outside the bounds that the Constitution originally placed on it,” and that this outsized government now has the power to make “very intimate decisions that belong to Americans of all aspects of life from the cradle to the grave.”
The worst thing about this change is that the, “American dream that we were so lucky to find is now increasingly out of range of the American families,” the chief road block being “our own government and our own public policy.”
When asked specifically how a very liberal California can be changed, his message to conservatives and believers in liberty was, “I would tell them that the best is yet to come, but we have to fight passionately for the future if we are going to claim it, and if we don’t fight for it we won’t claim it.”
Birman’s focus is on articulating principles and being unafraid to stand by them. He said the task for California conservatives is to “convey freedom, is to convey the notions of liberty, to convey those basic founding principles of the United States, Constitutionally limited government–personal responsibility.”
He explained how a focus on abuses by the government can help cross the political divide, like how Sen. Rand Paul spoke in front of a packed house and drew loud cheers in Berkeley, CA.
“When you tell people, ‘hey, I want our privacy back,’ people listen of all political stripes.”
He said that this is not a difficult argument to make because these principles, “built the greatest degree of prosperity that man has ever known.” However, he said the decision of what way to go is “up to us.”
“Luckily the Republican Party, the conservative movement was founded on and champions freedom, the message is there,” Birman said.
He made an important point to Californians, especially given his background of living under a tyrannical regime.
“You mentioned this American dream within the American dream fading in California. What’s happening is, for the longest time all these ravages of tyranny were academic,” Birman said. He explained that while Californians and Americans had mostly only heard about the depth of big government abuse abroad, they had very little practical experience with it other than by the “word of others.”
“I could tell the story of living in the Soviet Union and the lines, the shortages, the despotism, the surveillance, the threats, all those terrible things,” Birman said. Now Californians have a “front row seat” to these governmental abuses.
Ultimately, he said that California needs “a team of well-qualified and very persuasive messengers.” He continued, “I hope that my campaign will play a small part in bringing that message to the voters.”
Breitbart News has reported how that most important messenger, Rep. Tom McClintock, has been challenged in his primary election by a liberal Republican, Art Moore, whom he called a “Manchurian candidate.” Moore’s campaign is being run by Rob Stutzman, a former communications aide to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. McClintock has said that his race “will determine whether conservatives will have any place left in California politics.”
Birman spoke about how this primary challenge to McClintock was a strange tactic, clearly for the purpose of discouraging conservatives in the state. He said:
I see it as an attempt to exploit this new process that we have in California, its top-two primary, to defeat conservatives whom before you couldn’t defeat with a liberal Democrat, but now defeat them with a liberal Republican.
Birman believes McClintock will prevail because the campaign will be decided on “principles,” and that he will triumph over a candidate backed by a “very liberal group of Republicans, some of those are liberal consultants who are running this guy’s campaign.” Many of these backers, Birman said, are like his primary opponent, Doug Ose, “who’s desperate because he realizes that liberal Republicans are not well liked by primary voters.”
Republicans like Ose are part of the problem in Caifornia, according to Birman, as they have little on their record to differentiate between themselves and Democrats, and are often aiding the liberal agenda.
When you take a Republican like Doug Ose, who voted time after time, three years in a row, for higher taxes, for over a Trillion dollars in new spending, to tax the Internet, to give Social Security benefits to illegal aliens, and to add insult to insanity to take the EPA and grow it into a full department rather than a mere agency because he said on the House Floor they are not well equipped to handle the environmental challenges of the 21st century. That’s absolutely outrageous.
Ose has had a generally more moderate to liberal voting record while serving in Congress from 1999 until 2005, receiving a 78 out of 100 rating from the American Conservative Union, and he did push for cabinet-level status of the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the Sacramento Bee, Ose also took $700,000 in farm subsidies up until 2004, but he returned the $4,500 he received in 2005. Ose said, “I argued to eliminate the subsidies, and even though the law allowed us to take the subsidies, we didn’t.”
Ose said of his record:
Notwithstanding the fact that people disagreed with some of my votes, I conducted my affairs as a member of Congress without scandal and I kept my word and came home after three terms, which is something a lot of members of Congress can’t say.
Ose ran against Rep. McClintock in the 2008 Republican primary, but was defeated. This happened in large part with the help of conservative groups like the Club For Growth, which stated that Ose pushed for, “wasteful projects, increased government spending, new regulations, bigger government, and even taxes on the Internet.”
Birman said that the California Republicans have failed, especially with conservative primary voters, because they “campaign as conservatives and then legislate as liberals.”
He said that these Republicans “tarnished our brand” and led to people like Nancy Pelosi, who ran on “fiscal prudency,” to be put in power instead of being “laughed at.” He said that is how bad Republicans tarnished their image, and “Doug Ose was one of them.”
Photo Source: Twitter/Igor_Birman