This is interview #16 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day. A new interview is released every Monday and every Thursday, so check back often!
Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Kavon Nikrad. Kavon is a prominent Republican blogger, and was the founder of the popular conservative websites, Race42008.com and Race42012.com. He now runs Rightosphere.com. Kavon and his wife hail from Minnesota.
Josiah Schmidt: How did Race42008.com come about, and how did it evolve into Rightosphere?
Kavon Nikrad: It’s slightly embarrassing story actually…
Since early childhood, I have always been fanatical about politics, and the actions/policy that our government is debating/undertaking have always mattered a great deal to me on a personal level. Perhaps that is a personality flaw? I am not really sure…
So when it became apparent in the spring of 2004 that John Kerry had an excellent chance of being elected President of the United States, the horror of that realization started to really negatively affect my health. I began developing stomach aches and headaches every time I watched or listened to the news. So for the sake of my health, I placed myself in to a total media blackout from mid-April to 8pm on election night.
It sounds rather childish now, looking back. I probably could have handled it if it were anyone besides the total zero of a human being that I consider John Kerry to be.
So after the election was over and I knew that the country I love spared itself from a John Kerry presidency, I began consuming all of the media that I had denied myself and realized that I missed one of the most exciting political races in the history of American Politics. I became really deeply regretful that I missed it. So I made the commitment that I wouldn’t miss anything the next time around. The best way to do that seemed to be to start a blog about it. Race42008 began in June of 2006 and we have been going strong ever since.
What made R4’08 & R4’12 so special was the vibrant conservative community it evolved into; and that is really what I am the most proud of. I believe that it evolved in this way because I made it a policy to allow almost total freedom when it came to the ideas that could be expressed by our community. Really, the only limits I have ever placed on what people could say were in regards to profanity, graphic descriptions of sexual acts, and obvious trolling.
This is a radically different policy than the big name conservative sites that, for the most part, will ban anyone who even hints at disagreement with their editorial board. The results speak for themselves. On days were there were major events such as a primary or a debate, our open threads would generate a thousand comments or more compared to the 50-100 on the “big name” sites.
Rightosphere.com is a re-launch of Race42012 that Kristofer Lorelli and I have been working on for over a year now. Basically, we wanted to give our community tools that will enable unlimited participation and opportunity for involvement and expression. So the new site is the opposite of “top down” model that most sites use. Rightosphere exists for and will be driven by our community.
As far as describing the tools and infrastructure that Rightosphere provides to its community, I would encourage folks to head on over and check it out for themselves. There is no site on the Left or Right that has the features/tools we do. The possibilities for our users are endless.
Josiah Schmidt: What is the best part about running Rightosphere?
Kavon Nikrad: Without a doubt, it is the interaction that I have with grassroots conservatives that I would never have met had I not founded the site. Every day, I am in awe of the talent and intelligence that is rampant among the Rightroots. If the Republican Party was able to fully engage the conservative grassroots, we would take this country over in a heartbeat. Maybe that’s what’s going on right now in spite of the Republican Party?
Josiah Schmidt: How did you become a conservative, and what does conservatism mean to you?
Kavon Nikrad: I came to conservatism from libertarianism actually. My first ever vote in a U.S. Presidential election was for Harry Browne in 1996.
To me, conservatism is about creating the smallest possible government, whose sole purpose is to foster an environment in which people can provide for their own needs. It is about equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes.
If you were to ask a thousand people for their definition of happiness, you would get a thousand different answers. So the idea that the government could be capable of satisfying everyone’s “wish list” of what it would take to provide them with a “happy life” is ludicrous beyond belief and runs counter to everything I have observed in my three decades of life on Planet Earth.
Government’s proper role is to establish an environment where every person is free to pursue the heights to which their talents can take them.
In the contemporary Republican Party, this places me squarely in the “Reagan Conservative” camp.
Josiah Schmidt: Do you think there is a place in the GOP for small-l libertarians?
Kavon Nikrad: Absolutely. In fact, I would go so far to say that it is essential that conservatives and libertarians reach some sort of covenant if we are going to save this country. Focusing on what divides us, rather than the many things in which we agree, is exactly what liberals/progressives want as they know that the more we argue, the more they will be able to permanently expand government.
The divide between conservatives and libertarians is not even close to the divide which separates progressives and moderates in the Democratic Party. Not by a long shot.
Ronald Reagan himself described libertarianism as the “very heart and soul” of conservatism.
Josiah Schmidt: What is the significance of the burgeoning Tea Party movement, in your view?
Kavon Nikrad: I think it is one of the most important political movements of the past fifty-years.
One of the most important aspects of the Tea Party Movement is that fact that one of its major facets is economic conservatives standing up and saying that “they are not going to take it anymore” with the same vigor as social conservatives have had for years; and it is Obama’s presidency which is responsible for awakening this “sleeping giant.”
If Barack Obama is sent back to Illinois in January of 2013, it will be because of the Tea Party Movement. Of that, you can be certain. It is in this way that Barack Obama has sown the seeds of his own political demise. It is pretty amazing to be stating that with all conviction, considering where this country was at in November of 2008 isn’t it?
Josiah Schmidt: What is the most important lesson conservatives ought to take away from George W. Bush’s presidency?
Kavon Nikrad: That a Republican president is going to lose his or her base if he or she ignores one of the “three legs of the stool” which make up modern day conservatism. Conservatives are simply not going to accept liberal fiscal policy any longer.
Josiah Schmidt: What do you think will be the biggest issue in the 2012 presidential election?
Kavon Nikrad: It’s hard to say. I would have never imagined that the Iraq War would have played such a relatively small role on the 2008 presidential election in 2006. It is hard to image that government spending, the national debt, or the budget deficit will not be an enormous factor with the looming fiscal Armageddon that Obamanomics is creating now.
Josiah Schmidt: Assuming Governor Gary Johnson is running for President in 2012, what advice would you give him if you could?
Kavon Nikrad: To make it clear from the outset that he is a Republican and that he is looking to effect change within the Republican Party. If he is coy about leaving the party to pursue a third-party run, most Republicans will view him with suspicion and close their hearts and minds to him from the outset.
This is why I think that many Republicans, despite their vehement disagreement with him on foreign policy, view Ron Paul and the Campaign for Liberty as positive and constructive voices within the party.
If Gov. Johnson does not make the commitment to stay in the GOP from the very beginning, he throws that all away.
Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say our readers?
Kavon Nikrad: I would like to thank them for their time for reading this interview and to extend my hand in friendship. I am really excited to meet and interaction with as many of them as possible on this site and at Rightosphere.com.
Josiah Schmidt: Thanks for answering our questions, Kavon. And another reminder to our readers to visit Rightosphere.com for news and opinion from a conservative perspective.