On May 9th, I sat down with Michael Bezoian, a 20-year-old conservative UCLA student. He is in his junior year as a Political Science major at UCLA, which means that this is not last time we will be hearing from Michael. I worked with Michael on the Rubio campaign when he was the State Chairman for California Students for Rubio. As State Chairman, Michael oversaw the finance, recruitment, outreach, polling, and social media teams for the campaign. Since the campaign was targeted at college students, it was more heavily focused on social media and issues relevant to millennials than your average campaign.
Michael has worked for other campaigns as well. In the past, he worked on the mayoral campaigns of Jan Perry, Eric Garcetti, and Ara Najarian in addition to Adrin Nazarian’s State Assembly campaign. He said the difference working for Democratic candidates and those who were Republican was “ideology.” He went on to explain, “I didn’t believe in their ideology but that didn’t stop me from working as hard as I could for them.” This is part of what makes a conservative, a conservative – a strong work ethic. It is this strong work ethic that is going to ensure his success in any endeavors he undertakes.
I asked Michael a few questions about the election and this is what he had to say:
Q. What did you feel when Rubio dropped out of the race?
A. It was bittersweet. I had spent a lot of time with the people I worked with. One of the most unforgettable experiences was a trip a few team members and I took to Nevada less than a week before the state’s caucus. While there, we canvassed, phone banked and attended a rally for Senator Rubio. The trip was an excellent exercise in team-building and I will likely never forget it. Given the immense impact the campaign had on me, it was no surprise that I was disappointed to hear that Rubio was dropping out. I wanted the campaign to last longer because it would allow me to continue campaigning for the candidate I most believed in all while continuing to work with an incredible, hard-working, and intelligent group of conservative students. On the other hand, I believe that Rubio dropped out to preserve the conservative movement and I don’t think he did so in vain.
Q. What is your assessment of Ted Cruz?
A. A while back, I took a quiz and it said that I was ideologically closest to Cruz. Although I had the option of joining the Cruz campaign, I felt Rubio had a better chance of winning and reaching out to millennials like myself, so I joined his campaign instead. But I do like Ted Cruz and I would have voted for him if he were still in the race. In fact, a short while after the Rubio campaign ended, I was contacted by the Millennials for Cruz campaign and I jumped on board as the California chapter’s Vice Chairman.
Q.How do you see the Republican Party doing in the general election?
A. I’m not sure. You have two camps with two different theories and I’m not sure which side is right. One camp says that Trump has little chance of beating Hillary. Another camp says people have been wrong about Donald all this time and they are therefore wrong about him beating Hillary. Given Trump’s ability to tear down his opponents merely by attaching nicknames and propagating half-truths about them, it is not unlikely that when it comes time to take on Hillary, her poll numbers could drop significantly, if Rubio and Cruz are any indication. In any case, I’m not positive about which camp is right in this case.
Q. In your opinion, has Donald Trump contributed positively or negatively?
A. It’s hard to say. While he brought attention to issues that were rarely discussed before his candidacy, he did accelerate the Republican Party’s death. There is no denying that the GOP was dying, but the timing of the GOP’s implosion could not have been any worse. Although Trump is a polarizing figure, very few would disagree that he has given a voice to those who felt they did not have one before. It may also be the case that Trump put the ascension of the Tea Party on a fast track. And while I don’t think Trump represents the Tea Party, I do think that the same anger that fueled the backlash against big government, wasteful spending, and an overreaching Obama presidency is fueling Trump’s campaign. Plus, there was no denying that the Tea Party was slowly taking over the party. This election had a number of candidates that were elected to their respective offices by embracing values and policy stances that the Tea Party supports. The only problem is that Tea Party candidates are often outspent by establishment candidates and, as a result, fail to win elections. Unfortunately, establishment Republicans tend to capitulate on the issues rather than sticking to their guns. Conservatives have grown wary of Republicans making promises then reneging on them and that’s partly why I believe Trump appeals to so many people. Trump has essentially painted himself as the anti-establishment candidate even though I believe he is the embodiment of the establishment.
Q. Many conservatives are saying they are looking to go third party. If they do, do you think that will have a chance of winning in November?
A. I don’t think so. It would be especially difficult for them to win a plurality of the votes in some states. I’d argue that the third party candidate would take more votes away from Trump than he would from Clinton and that would end up giving Clinton the plurality. Plus, because it doesn’t seem as though this election will go down to the wire, at least as of now, the third party candidate would need to win a state rich with electors or several states with relatively fewer electors. The polls currently show that Clinton has the advantage over Trump. This would mean that the third party candidate would have to outperform both Clinton and Trump. The next question one should ask is which states the third-party candidate can win. Would it be a battleground state or would it be that individual’s home state? If anything, it may be too early to tell.
Q. If Rubio were to join Donald Trump as the VP would you vote for Donald Trump?
A. Reluctantly, yes. Trump and I disagree on a number of issues, but I share more stances with him than I do with Clinton. Plus, I know exactly what I’ll be getting in a Clinton presidency and I know I won’t like it. Trump has changed his stances on issues far too frequently and, for that reason, I’m very distrustful of him. However, even the remote possibility that he appoints a conservative Supreme Court justice is convincing enough for me. I see my vote to be in opposition to Clinton, not in favor of Trump. With that said, Rubio’s addition to the ticket would have no effect on my vote in November. Rubio joining the ticket, as unlikely as it now is, would most likely improve Trump’s chances. Rubio could deliver Florida. On the other hand, Kasich could bring in Ohio, which is especially important for Republicans if the 2004 elections are any indicator. In other words, the only way I see Trump winning is if he tries his best to unite the party be selecting an “establishment” vice president.
Q. What is your personal assessment of Donald Trump and do you feel he would be an effective President? Why or why not?
I don’t think he would the most effective president but I think and I hope that he will be better than Clinton. I don’t think I can ever bring myself to vote for Clinton because not only do I disagree with her on a multitude of issues, I also think she is morally corrupt. On the flip side, however, I think that Trump will also have his own downsides. Trump loves to cut deals and I wouldn’t be happy if he cut deals on my Second Amendment rights or on eminent domain or on any other aspect of the Constitution. Trump never touched on specifics during his campaign so it’s hard to know what he would do in any given situation. A lot of people are interested in this election because Trump brings in an aspect of entertainment. While this is good because more people are engaging in the political process, it has a huge downside in that Trump gives the people entertainment rather than a substantive policy debate.
Q. Taking into account your education and your previous campaign experience, what is your final prediction for November from a purely political science perspective?
A. As of right now, the data shows a Clinton presidency in 2017. Republicans are not getting behind Trump and a divided party cannot stand. While there are some polls that show Clinton and Trump tied or one with a slight edge over the other, it’s too early to make a decision based on head-to-head match-ups. A second source one may consult to have a better idea of how November might look would be favorability polls. Both Clinton and Trump are resented by sizeable factions of their own party. As a result, the question boils down to which candidate is hated less and which candidate can do a better job of uniting their party and winning swing voters. If anything is certain this November, though, it’s that down-ballot races are going to matter a lot. Especially important will be maintaining a majority in the Senate and ensuring that the President nominate a conservative justice to replace Justice Scalia. The importance of filling Scalia’s vacancy with an individual equally as conservative and as principled as he was may increase voter turnout and it may win over those who pledged to never vote for Trump.
Q. Is there anything you wish to express to our readers?
A. It should go without saying, but expect the unexpected.
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