AMAC: Were you liberal when you were younger?
BILA: No, I was never a liberal. I joke with my parents that I popped out of the womb as a libertarian-conservative. Reagan always made sense to me; Carter never did. I was really lucky growing up because I was surrounded by different political ideologies in school and at home. Liberals, conservatives, libertarians, and everything in between were often at my dinner table. I had the chance to listen to political discussions, hear all sides of the story, and figure out what I believed in. Big-government policies, high taxes, and class warfare just never hit home with me.
AMAC: What do you like best about being conservative?
BILA: I like promoting freedom and the right of people to make decisions for themselves about their own lives–what they eat, whether they have health insurance, and more. I love talking to kids about opportunity, self-reliance, and personal responsibility. I have always found it empowering to know that how hard I work, what goals I reach for, and how ambitious I am with respect to those goals are up to no one but me. As a libertarian-conservative, I embrace policies that let me do those things without the heavy hand of the federal government in my way.
AMAC: How does liberalism hurt women?
BILA: I think any political ideology that promotes dependency hurts women, while also hurting men, children, and society at large. When the Obama camp released their Julia campaign during the 2012 election season, I was horrified to see cradle-to-grave government assistance for women glorified. Many “feminists” also rushed to lend their support. It was a disgrace–condescending to the abilities of women to care for themselves without the help of government and a slap in the face to founding feminists who fought long and hard for women’s equality and the notion that women are capable, intelligent, independent decision-makers.
AMAC: Are conservatives losing the battle for the hearts and minds of Americans?
BILA: In a sense, they are. However, it’s not because the conservative message is outdated; it’s because the conservative approach to delivering that message is outdated. They need to be unafraid of markets like reality television that appeal to kids, forums like coffeehouses and down-to-earth settings that young people flock to, and left-wing campuses where the conservative message is grossly outnumbered. Outreach matters and is completely different from the pandering often engaged in by the Left. Also, the quality of messengers is key. We need charismatic, energetic, positive messengers who have the ability to excite people and convey constitutional principles in a way that is both accurate and engaging. These things aren’t easy, but they are necessary to change hearts and minds.
AMAC: What led you to your current profession?
BILA: I actually fell into this by accident. A couple of years ago, I was working as a teacher and Dean in a Manhattan private school. I watched the 2008 presidential election play out and was shocked by the level of media bias. I remember hearing a story from a family friend about voter fraud and being moved to write a blog post about it in 2009. I immediately got a flood of mail. That led to writing columns online, TV appearances, and everything you see just a few short years later. What led me to this profession most, beyond the desire to take on media deceit, was the desire to give people honest, talking point-free commentary. I’m not a Republican strategist, nor am I interested in propping up a machine or defending a party at all costs. I’m really here to tell you what I think, to give you an honest take on the issues, and to take on corruption, bad policy, and lying politicians no matter where they fall on the political spectrum.
AMAC: What do you like to do to relax?
BILA: I love fitness, so boxing, boot camps, long runs, lifting weights, wall climbing–I’m up for them all on a Saturday afternoon. I love delicious, healthy food, and having a best friend who is an amazing cook has been a gift from God. Let’s just say I spend a lot of time stuffing my face. I also adore music, so I love searching for new artists. Sarah McLachlan is my favorite, but there are so many I adore. You can typically find me on a Sunday afternoon writing journal entries or fiction while folksy tunes dance through my iPod speakers. Analytical writing has its place in my world, but creative writing is where I’m most myself.
AMAC: What is your favorite location in the United States? Why?
BILA: This is a tough one, so let me give you a few places I love before I answer your exact question. I adore Amherst, Massachusetts, which I discovered with an old love many years ago. Small New England towns with winter cottages and charming shops always have me at hello. South Beach, Miami is my favorite place to put my toes in the sand and dance through the night. San Diego, California has a way of calming my body and mind that I can’t explain.
However, my favorite place in the United States would still have to be Manhattan, which I’ll always call home. Growing up in New York City was probably the biggest gift I’ve been given of all. Not just because I’ve been surrounded by rich culture–museums, bookstores, art galleries, poetry readings–but because this place really builds a strong backbone. There’s a fearlessness about native New Yorkers that I love, a hurried energy, a desire to get things done yesterday, and an amazing endurance. Yes, it can be exhausting and all-consuming to live here. My friends visiting from other states often ask me how I get used to my mind and body running nonstop. I never have a good answer, to be honest. However, it’s a good exhaustion, the kind that comes from unique projects and cultural journeys and, yes, crazy taxicab adventures.
Truth be told, no matter where I wind up, I’ll always be a New Yorker. I’ll likely be a little tough sometimes, but I’ll get you where you need to go. And quickly.
Cross-published in AMAC’s print magazine.