AFF Member Profile: Brandon Smith
The Nitty Gritty
Policy Director, Office of Governor Sam Brownback (Kansas)
How long I’ve been a member of America’s Future Foundation:
What I do, and why I love it:
I serve on Governor Brownback’s senior staff as his policy director, which involves watching a broad portfolio of policy and legislation. I help develop innovative conservative policies and laws that will make Kansas the best state to grow a business and raise a family. Every day I dive deep into the details of budgets, education, criminal justice, and economic policy, and postulate how core conservative principles can govern a state. Every day is a new challenge, and a new opportunity to protect freedom, and build a stronger state.
Invaluable skill I’ve learned:
Read. Read. And read some more. Nothing replaces the hard work of digging in to policy, philosophy, economics, and the like. If you want to make a difference, consume knowledge every day.
Most important moment in my career (so far):
I don’t have a single important moment. Careers are built one step at a time. Moving forward, learning more, helping more people, and letting others help me. I suppose the most important moment, if any, was when I learned that my career was not just about me, but also about what I can do for others, for my community and for my country.
Biggest career lesson I’ve learned:
Vigilance is the eternal price of freedom. Beyond the networking, reading, studying, debating, writing, and thinking, freedom demands that we become steadfast defenders. Freedom must be defended every day.
What attracted me to politics:
I became interested in politics because of how it impacts the daily lives of everyone. Government policies can hold people down, or lift them up and offer hope. I wanted to be part of something that gave people hope in a better future, greater opportunity and security.
How I formed my political beliefs:
I was not always a principled conservative, but I have long had conservative instincts. It wasn’t until I studied some of the greats for myself that I really developed my political beliefs. There is no substitute. Understanding conservatism requires hard work and commitment to ideas.
Opportunities I see for the movement:
Conservatives and libertarians have a great opportunity to once again speak for the downtrodden. Our ideas, our principles, and our policies offer hope and opportunity. Free markets have lifted billions of people around the world out of poverty. If we find ways to implement these policies more readily, we will have a lasting positive impact on the world.
Most important trait to have to be successful in the movement:
Learn to be winsome and know what you believe. Freedom needs happy warriors, people who will steadfastly defend our principles, and win over converts to our shared principles. If you can do that, you will find success in the movement.
Why I think America’s Future Foundation is important:
AFF provides great opportunities for people to discover what they really believe, learn more about the movement, and meet like-minded people. Groups like AFF hold together the divergent sects of our movement, libertarians, conservatives, paleo-cons, social-cons, etc.
Any advice for freedom fighters beginning their careers?
Work hard, and play nice with others. The people you meet in the movement, even the ones you don’t fully agree with, are your allies. If you want to build a successful career, build alliances. Challenge your own beliefs at times, and work hard to be the best you can be at whatever it is you do.
If I were going on a Netflix binge, it would be:
This has to be cliché, but West Wing is my Netflix-binge of choice!
Favorite Political Talking Head?
Charles Krauthammer is one of the most articulate defenders of conservatism and freedom. He is as smart as he is witty.
Favorite British Television Show?
The BBC version of Sherlock Holmes, “Sherlock,” is fantastic. It’s a must watch.
Any good commuter stories?
I was once on a metro train in DC when I had to stop a fight. A man who had one to many drinks was about to assault a couple of riders near me. Fortunately, another passenger and I stood up to calm things down. It was quite the adventure, and I’m just glad things didn’t escalate!
Most underrated movie of all time?
Will Ferrell and Dustin Hoffman are awesome in “Stranger than Fiction.” It is a movie about life, and the amazing acts of kindness and self-sacrifice that even the most humble among us are capable of when called upon.
How about the most overrated?
“Inception” is pretty terrible. It’s an overly complicated plot, which offers no calling to living a better life. It’s got to be the most boring movie I’ve ever seen, yet everyone I know seems to love it.
Liz Thatcher works in marketing at the Center for Shared Services. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies from the Master’s College.