Political newcomer Bonnie Girard is challenging incumbent Congressman Randy Forbes in the Fourth Congressional District Republican primary on June 12.
Last weekend, after a meeting of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia, Girard sat down with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner to talk about her reasons for running for the GOP nomination, the political figures she admires, and how Republican candidates can earn the votes of libertarians.
Girard is a China specialist, having spent about 18 of the past 25 years working in China and continuing to work with Chinese businesses since her return to Virginia.
She is concerned about the transfer of dual-use technology that could reach the People’s Liberation Army and has been disappointed by the response of Congressman Forbes and his staff when she brings these concerns to their attention.
‘Tough on China’
Forbes is co-chairman of the Congressional China Caucus and has a reputation of being “tough on China,” according to Girard.
“No less than six times have I talked with both him and his staff about some very specific information, which I have discovered in the course of my work for the Commonwealth of Virginia, identifying a source of information going to China,” Girard explained, but “neither he nor his staff have ever responded, have ever asked anyone to come to me to ask more details [and] get more information about this.”
After that lack of response, she said, “It began to occur to me: How sincere, how truly sincere, is his tough stance on China?”
Girard suspects that Forbes may be more focused on his relationship with defense contractors that want to do business with China than with keeping U.S. defense technologies out of the hands of the Chinese military.
These concerns ultimately motivated Girard to run for Congress, she said.
“This bothered me enough that I felt I had to make a stand against him.”
Admirable political figures
Girard is an admirer of Benjamin Franklin and Ron Paul.
She recommends that “everybody read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin to find inspiration and instruction for leading one’s life as an intelligent, curious, active Renaissance person, which is what he did brilliantly and beautifully.”
Today’s society, she explained, has “become too focused on specialized jobs or specialized directions in our lives.”
Franklin, she said, was a man “who was able, before the word was ever conceived, to multitask on all levels, from invention, from science, to diplomacy, to government, even in his personal life, he was interesting and colorful but he was a man who explored and excelled at most areas of life and did not limit himself to one.”
As for Ron Paul, Girard says she disagrees with him on some issues, agrees with him on others, but admires him for his steadfastness.
“The reason I admire him,” she explained, “is he has never wavered from a set of principles that he has espoused from the beginning of his public life through to today. He has had the guts and the determination to carry this message through to a presidential run, through the debates, till now. He is unfailingly stable. He is unfailingly positive and principled in what he believes. He absolutely believes in the Constitution, the power of the Constitution, the necessity of restoring liberty and the ideals of classical libertarianism to this country, [and] informing people what that means.”
Ron Paul, she said, “operates from principle not from politics and I admire him greatly for that.”
In thinking about how Republican candidates can attract libertarian voters, Girard said that she has discovered, as she participates in the political process as a candidate, “that persuasion on a personal level is hugely important and probably the most effective means by which you can connect with somebody about political ideas.”
Libertarian arguments, she explained, “are so strong that they simply need to be communicated in very personal ways, in ways that can reach people on a level and in a way that means something to them for their personal lives.”
To gain those voters confidence, she concluded, politicians should “reach out with principles [and] talk about principles, and the rest will fall in place.”