LI Grad Interview: ‘It’s up to us,’ says new father, Southern Illinoisan
“You and I may face hardships in this country, and our political system may be broken, but we come from a long line of fighters willing to put it all on the line to stand up for what we believe in.” – David Blair, Executive Director of the Conservative Leadership PACMeet Leadership Institute (LI) faculty member and distinguished graduate, David Blair. I recently interviewed David to learn how he got interested in politics, his advice to young people, and his take on the current state of politics. He even announced a new little arrival on the way soon!Q: Can you tell me a little about yourself?I am originally from Southern Illinois, where my family has lived for more than a hundred years. I moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the Leadership Institute in 2015 and am now the Executive Director of the Conservative Leadership PAC and the President of my consulting firm, the Blair Group. I live in Sterling, Virginia, with my wife Hannah (whom I met at LI). We are about to welcome our first born into the world in June and are very excited to be first-time parents. Q: What motivated you to enter the political world?My motivations to enter politics really stem from my sense of right and wrong. When something seems like it's not right or unfair, I find myself feeling a great deal of moral indignation about the situation. Seeing how our government operates and the total failure of many of our elected officials, I almost couldn't help gravitating towards politics. I can't see something being done poorly, recklessly, or hypocritically and keep my mouth shut. Sometimes this gets me into trouble, but it is what drove me into politics and what drives me to work for the good guys every day. Can you tell me a little more about the work you do as the Executive Director of the Conservative Leadership PAC and as President of the Blair Group, LLC?As Executive Director of CLPAC, I find talented, principled, and driven young people to act as Youth Coordinators on hotly contested election campaigns all over the country. Often in a very close race, a few thousand votes can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Candidates who employ our system of mass-based youth organizing (first pioneered by Morton Blackwell) find that they have a winning edge when it comes to the close races when compared to their colleagues who do not run serious youth efforts. In short, it is my job to find talent and make sure our coordinators win for the candidates we support. As President of the Blair Group, I act as a strategic consultant for candidates, non-profits, and for-profit companies who are interested in grassroots solutions for their causes. It is my firm belief that there is no better source of value in a campaign than a good grassroots movement. I work with my clients to earn media, contact voters, hold events, and gain support through true ground-up grassroots campaigns. I also am an active speaker on the virtues of grassroots organizing and mass-based youth organizing as a faculty member at the Leadership Institute. Your work focuses on mobilizing young people. What advice to you have for those who are just starting out in political work and campaigns?I have more advice for young people than I have space to write here. However, if I were to stress one thing to someone just starting out in politics, it would be to focus on the success of your principles. Don't let your ego, your vanity, or your pride get in the way of the greater mission. We are all working, or at least we should be, toward a cause greater than ourselves. Credit, fame, money, and all the things many young people see as “success” in politics amount to nothing if you aren't working tirelessly to make the world a better place than you found it. So don't get caught up in the number of twitter followers that you have; social media fame has its place, and we have some warriors out there, but you have to find where you add value to the movement and work at that with all of your heart. If it's hard, good. It should be. How has the Leadership Institute helped you prepare for the work you are currently doing? First as a student and now as a faculty member at LI, I've had such a fantastic opportunity to meet the next generation of conservative leaders in this country and abroad. When I speak to a class at LI or club on campus, I know I am speaking to a room full of tomorrow's leaders. My network has grown with solid, work-centered, movement conservatives whom I can call on to get the job done. When I need someone in a particular state for a tough job or for a Youth Coordinator on a campaign, I know I can look to the contacts I have made through LI to find the right connection. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?As Americans, we have the unique ability to profoundly affect our government in every election held at the Federal, State, and local levels. Today the cost of political involvement is historically cheap when compared to our nation's forefathers. The Declaration of Independence was essentially a signed death warrant for the Founding Fathers. Yet, motivated by their love of liberty and love for this nation, they willingly lined up to sign. You and I may face hardships in this country and our political system may be broken, but we come from a long line of fighters willing to put it all on the line to stand up for what we believe in. Americans must not abandon the legacy of freedom and the sacrifices of so many who came before us because we find ourselves in difficult times. America was founded in difficult times, forged in them, and will continue to persevere despite them as long as there are good people willing to work hard and stay in the fight. Voting, volunteering, activism, and old-fashioned hard work are what will cure our current political woes. With COVID coming to an end and the overreaches of Liberal politicians on full display, conservatives have a profound opportunity to make massive gains in 2022. You and I can take this opportunity by the horns and show the American people once again that conservatism is the way to go, or we can allow the opportunity to pass and allow the hard-won gains of our ancestors to fall by the wayside. It's up to us.This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. 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