Paul Doherty, San Francisco Chapter President
1. How did you hear about AFF/get involved? I first heard about AFF in early 2014 while researching libertarian-leaning organizations operating in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was eager to become involved with such a group, however, as a Bay Area native, I knew that there were not many prominent groups of this nature in the area. As I learned more about AFF, I quickly realized that my worldview and beliefs closely aligned with AFF’s mission, so I reached out to AFF’s leadership team introducing myself and inquiring about the possibility of opening a chapter in the Bay Area. Before I knew it, they were interested in having me set up a chapter, and the rest is history!
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Why do you think AFF is important? AFF is exactly the type of organization we need to ensure that liberty is secured for future generations. Ronald Reagan is often quoted as saying that “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” and with our public education system sorely failing at educating America’s youth, I believe that AFF plays an increasingly central role in ensuring that young professionals are educated on the timeless virtues of limited government, free markets, and personal responsibility – and in helping them become effective and engaged advocates for liberty.
3. Where do you see the future of the liberty movement going? I see the the liberty movement growing and expanding as more young Americans recognize the rewards and liberating power of personal responsibility and entrepreneurship. As a society, we seem to be ceding more control over our daily lives to the federal leviathan, but I believe that We the People will eventually become disenfranchised with that approach (hopefully before it is too late), and will seek to return power to local entities – especially regarding our health, education and welfare.
4. Why did you decide to open up an AFF chapter? Like many within the liberty movement, I gained my first experience in politics and public policy through working on a political campaign. During the historic 2010 mid-term elections, I served as the Director of Communications for Forest Baker, the Republican candidate for Congress in California’s (then) 13th district. Mr. Baker won a heated primary battle, however he did not win the general election, but it was through my experience working on his campaign that I realized my heart’s work was in advancing free-market solutions and in promoting and supporting those who will carry the torch of liberty well into the 21st century. Believe it or not, there is actually a strong undercurrent of libertarian thinkers and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area; however, there are not many groups for young, liberty-minded professionals. This was my inspiration for starting AFF SF.
5. What do you hope to accomplish with the chapter? I have three main goals for AFF SF: 1) I want to establish AFF SF as a permanent and premier organization for young conservatives and libertarians to network, strategize and organize in the Bay Area, 2) I want to promote free-market solutions and economic freedom through engaging events, and 3) I want to provide a credible and lasting forum for residents of the Bay Area to hear differing viewpoints and honest debates on the most important cultural and political issues of the day. Ultimately, the goal is to support young professionals to become life-long, effective and engaged advocates for free markets and liberty.
6. Who has influenced you to become interested in free-market ideas? There are a handful of people whose work has had a profound influence on my worldview, including (in no particular order): Thomas Sowell, Jonah Goldberg, Clarence Thomas, George Will, William F. Buckley, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Michele Malkin, Victor Davis Hansen, Hernando de Soto, Robert Kiyosaki, David Horowitz, Deroy Murdock, and Dinesh D’Souza. During college, I participated in the National Student Exchange program, where I spent two semesters studying at the University of Hawaii, Manoa (in Honolulu). During this time, I had an amazing political science professor, Kate Zhou, who taught with a ferocity for truth that kept me engaged and left me asking questions and seeking more knowledge … even to this day! Professor Zhou has an uncanny ability to analyze current events and put them into perspective in regard to traditional American ideals. As an educated immigrant from communist China, she shared her stories and experiences of life under Mao Zedong, and taught us about the tyranny of totalitarian, communist, socialist, and fascist forms of governance. Kate taught the classics like Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations to inform students about the virtues of applied free-market principles.
7. What are your professional development goals? My #1 professional development goal is to become adept at conveying “conservatiarian” perspectives and solutions in a public setting. I want to apply my writing and journalism background to advancing the liberty movement through op-eds and speaking engagements. I also want to build the chapter so that young, liberty-minded professionals in the area no longer have to live in the shadows and can openly meet, network and develop their professional skills.
8. What do you do for your day job? I gradated from Chico State in 2005 with a B.A. in Journalism (News-Editorial) and a minor in Political Science (International Relations). I started my career as a sports writer and editor, but when the newspaper industry began to implode I quickly switched over to digital publishing, social media management and public relations. Since 2008, I’ve worked as a tech-PR practitioner, executing and managing PR programs for leading Bay Area-based technology companies including PlayStation, HP, and Yahoo!, among others.
9. How did the San Francisco launch go? The SF launch went very well and we had a solid turnout of more than 40 people join us to toast liberty and celebrate the launch of AFF’s first West Coast chapter. It was a great networking event – with attendees from local organizations including The Independent Institute, the Pacific Research Institute, and the Young Americans for Liberty. A HUGE thanks is due to Sally Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, for stepping in as a guest speaker when our scheduled keynote presenter cancelled on us at the last minute. And the event was a huge success in terms of growing AFF SF, as I actually met and recruited two new board members! We are already gearing up for a our second event, and we are also coordinating with some local groups on future events for later this year.
Seneca Gates is an America’s Future Foundation intern.