It was at Right Online 2009 in Pittsburgh where I was first introduced to the conservative New Media revolution. I was inundated with useful information about how to communicate with fellow conservatives in ways that could harness the possibilities of the future for our side. We didn’t have to simply cede the technological arena to the new (and still very popular at that time) President Barack Obama, David Plouffe and their “legion” of tech-savvy, but dangerously naïve young left-wing acolytes!
That August weekend is now mostly a flurried collage of images for me. But I’ll always remember Alexa Moutevelis. Someone had created a special Tweetdeck platform for Right Online so we could begin connecting with new acquaintances. I saw “@AlexaShrugged’s” bio and began following her on Twitter…then looked 20 feet to my left and there she was. (Some things haven’t changed at these conferences!)
I recall a magazine interview from a few years ago, where the actor, Michael Douglas, was asked about where he derived his moral compass. I’ve never forgotten his response, “I prefer the gray areas on these issues.” Michael Douglas would not have been a fan of Alexa Moutevelis’ style. But YOU will be…if, like me, you appreciate bold, unflinching loyalty to conservative principle, salted with a significant dash of grace and charm!
It would be one thing if Alexa were simply a gifted writer, possessed a brilliant mind and an attractive smile. All of the above are true. But I am so impressed with Alexa because she is, at such a young age, a woman of dauntless courage. The pro-life cause is one that, as the father of a special needs child, is very close to my heart. Alexa not only understands that we cannot be silent on this subject; she speaks out by highlighting news items or commentary with a pro-life slant on a weekly basis.
Likewise, the dimension of national security will impact future generations, as well as our own. Alexa intuitively grasps this. This qualification renders her a consummate fit for “Citizens United” and her role in promoting the stellar documentaries that are being produced there. (I had a chance a few weeks ago, at Alexa’s invitation, to screen “America at Risk: the War with No Name. I was spellbound for 90 minutes. You must see it. But I digress.)
When you read Alexa’s responses to my interview questions this week, I believe you’ll understand why I’m convinced that Alexa is well on her way to being a vanguard force in the conservative movement. I believe her name will be one that my daughters will know and that the same will be true in conservative households across our land. She and young people like her give me joy and hope for the world that I’ll leave for my kids.
Alexa is closing in quick on 5,000 followers. If you aren’t among that swelling number, get on board today at @alexashrugged!
10 Questions for Alexa Moutevelis
- Your Twitter bio tells the story: “War on Terror-supporting, free-market-loving, global-warming-denying, NRA card-carrying, God-fearing, Rush-listening, NR-subscribing, pro-life conservative gal.” You self-define as a conservative. How early in life did you know you were and how did it come about?
I guess I’ve always been conservative, but it wasn’t until 2000 that I had my political awakening. I watched the first Bush-Gore debate for a high school class and I agreed with all the common sense things Bush said. When I got to school the next day, I was SHOCKED that everyone else thought it was obvious that Gore won. It was then that I realized that I was “different.” I hadn’t really noticed politics much before (although I know I voted for George H.W. Bush in the ‘92 school mock election when I was in elementary school, and I have memories of wanting Mitt Romney to win in 1994 against Senator Ted Kennedy), but after that wakeup call, I started to really pay attention. I wanted to find out more about WHY I believed the things I did so I read everything conservative I could get my hands on. I was introduced to a system of beliefs, morals, and ideals, the opposite of anything I had learned in school or heard in the media, that I could identify with and become passionate about.
While listening to talk radio one night during the 2000 vote recount, I remember they read aloud a list of Al Gore lies from “National Review.” I went to the library the next day, read NR, and gave my mom a subscription card and asked her to get it for me for Christmas. (I’ve been known to call NR my Conservative “Bible.”)
Months later, I saw the Young America’s Foundation High School Conference advertised in “National Review” and signed up for it. There I heard from some amazing conservative speakers and had the opportunity to be with other conservatives my age. It was AWESOME and I was hooked! The rest, as they say, is history.
2. Where did you grow up and what elements of that foundation made you the person you are today?
I grew up in the People’s Republic of Taxachusetts and I used to say, “I’m a conservative because I’m anti-establishment!” That was certainly a part of it. (Can you get more anti-establishment than being a conservative in Massachusetts?) But I was never one to follow the crowd or do something just because it was popular. I always enjoyed being unique and standing up for my beliefs.
I also realize, looking back, that my parents were always conservative-leaning (although they take great pride in calling themselves independent or “unenrolled” in Massachusetts). We’d listen to talk radio in the car and my dad would rail against Bill Clinton. I think I got the foundations for my social conservatism from my mother, who is a born-again Christian, and my fiscal conservatism from my father, who is a small business owner. I would say I got my neo-conservative leanings on my own on 9/11.
I escaped the MASSylum for Virginia in college. One of the reasons I chose Washington and Lee University for school was because they were ranked in “Princeton Review’s” Top 20 Schools Most Nostalgic for Reagan! It was a politically conservative, albeit apathetic, school. While there, I was involved with College Republicans, helped relaunch a conservative student magazine, and founded W&L Students for Life – one of my proudest accomplishments.
I’ve lived in Virginia since 2002 and I got engaged in December of last year to my college sweetheart; we are planning a June wedding next year.
3. One of the things I’ve grown to love about you is that you are a fearless social conservative. Harking back to the bio…tell us a little more about the “God-fearing” aspect and how it informs your “pro-life” conviction.
Although my participation in church and religious activities is nowhere near where it should be, I still consider myself a Bible-believing Christian and the Bible is the basis of my Conservative political philosophy. The Judeo-Christian tradition inspired the Founders to declare that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights.” It is important to know that our rights come from God and not the government, including the right to LIFE.
I like how you say “informs the ‘pro-life’ conviction” because I believe that while religion can form the basis of our political beliefs, it should not and cannot be our only argument in defense of those beliefs.
Saying you are against abortion because of your religion is not enough. Many people do not share your religious beliefs, so your arguments are invalid to them and you aren’t going to win over any converts. You have to be able to meet people where they are and speak their language. You have to give other, secular reasons and with abortion there are many, especially considering what we know today about biology as well as the physical and mental risks, and societal changes. So while understanding the religious aspects of abortion is important, you have to also know how and why abortion is universally wrong, no matter one’s religion, and how to articulate that.
4. You blog and Tweet regularly; what led you to begin blogging and how did you find out about Twitter?
I started AlexaShrugged.com in 2006, but I don’t really remember what inspired it. I know at the beginning I shared links and articles I thought were interesting. It was a place for me to rant about politics, share news the MSM wouldn’t cover, and squeal over cute baby animals. Now it’s pretty much all politics. I really wish I had more time to blog and tweet on my personal accounts.
My mom was the one who actually got me to try Twitter (@AlexaShrugged). She had been using it for a while and kept telling me to check it out. I signed up the summer of 2008 and tweeted about a vacation I was on. Twitter didn’t really interest me and I didn’t really use it until I realized that rather than updating people who don’t care about your personal life, it could be used as a political tool.
My “aha” moment came with the #dontgo movement. #Dontgo began when Nancy Pelosi shut down the House for August Recess but Republican congressmen refused to leave because they wanted a vote on offshore drilling. They started a protest on the House Floor, but since the cameras were off, the only way they got the word out about what they were doing was through Twitter. For several days, GOP lawmakers allowed visitors on the House floor to hear their speeches. I even went down and tweeted/blogged about the experience in the Republican cloakroom (Part 1, Part 2). It was an exciting time in politics and Twitter made it possible.
I’ve also been getting into Amplify. You can find me at http://alexashrugged.amplify.com/
5. Your coming of age has coincided with the rise to dominance of social media…and you work in that field! What are conservatives doing correctly in the use of social media and how could we improve?
There is so much to say here, it could be an entire post! But I will say that conservatives are really doing a great job finally getting into social media and shaking things up! As I mentioned in the last question, Congressional Republicans took the lead on twitter with the #dontgo movement and haven’t looked back since. It’s funny; when the Democrats try to start hashtags, conservatives completely hijack them because we are so much more active and engaged on Twitter.
I think one way we can improve is to work together better. There is so much competition for attention, members, and donations, we can undercut each other sometimes. The Left doesn’t seem to have that problem. If only we had our own crazy billionaire to fund us all and let us focus on uniting to defeat the liberals…
6. You just moved over to “Citizens United” and have a new position there. Tell us about what your portfolio involves.
Yes, I just started in September as the New Media Director, where I run social media, blogger outreach, and online marketing. It’s been a crazy ride so far – we debuted three films in three weeks! The first one was America at Risk – hosted by Newt and Callista Gingrich and about the Obama Administration’s poor handling of the War on Terror. Then we had Fire from the Heartland, which is about the political awakening of conservative women and their leadership of the Tea Parties. Finally, we just premiered Battle for America with Dick Morris – it lays out the case for why the Democrats need to be kicked out of office in November and what is at stake for our country.
The last two are actually parts II and III of our “Tea Party Trilogy” which begins with Generation Zero. I am in Richmond right now for the Virginia Tea Party Convention where we are screening and selling the Tea Party Trilogy – it has been a huge hit! All of these films and more can be found on www.citizensunited.org.
7. What are some of your favorites in life: books, movies, musical artists, TV shows, vacation spots, hobbies, foods…and whatever else you care to mention that is a source of happiness?
Politically Correct Death – This book helped me be able to more clearly express and formulate my pro-life views and arguments.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – I am Greek and I read it while living there for study abroad so I had an even deeper connection to the book. I really enjoyed the perspective of living in Greece during World War II during the Italian and Nazi occupation. A heart breaker, it made me laugh, made me cry – heavily. I was deeply emotionally invested in this book and its characters.
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Clearly I’m a sucker for hopelessly romantic books about star-crossed lovers that are tearjerkers.
Movies: Titanic!!! People like to rag on it now, but at the time it was the most popular movie in the world and I think it has stood the test of time…never let go!
Musical Artists: This may sound strange, but I don’t really listen to much music. When I’m in the car I like to listen to talk radio or a Top 40 station. I never had an iPod until I got my iPhone and most of my songs are musicals or Christmas music!
TV Shows: My guilty pleasure is bad reality TV on channels like VH1. For scripted shows, I never miss The Office, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, and I love 24, X-Files, and Seinfeld.
Vacation Spots: My family goes to Turks & Caicos Islands every few years.
Foods: Pizza, pasta, and potatoes – I like starch, what can I say.
8. Who are 3 people, whether low-profile or celebrities, who have been sources of inspiration in your life? Conversely, who are 3 others that you find worthy of repudiation…and why?
My parents have definitely been an inspiration to me and gave me the foundation for my beliefs and who I am today. Some people say, “Oh, you’re only conservative because your parents were,” but that’s not a put-down to me. I love and respect my parents. They are the smartest people I know – they both have advanced degrees! I’m proud to follow in my parents’ footsteps and share their values.
George W. Bush has proven to be one of the only world leaders that truly understands the importance and the necessity of the War on Terror. He did not do what was popular or politically correct, but what was right. His actions are often mocked and criticized, but I believe that history will show him to be a hero for standing up against Islamofacism and extending freedom and democracy around the world.
James Madison, one of the most prescient of the Founding Fathers, understood human nature and was able to harness it to create the basis for the best democratic republic the world has ever seen. Through him I have learned about the original intent of the Constitution and how the government is SUPPOSED to work. The country needs to go back to the limited government that Madison intended, while crafting the Constitution.
Repudiation (other than the obvious, like Hitler, Stalin, etc):
Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid
9. You have had a chance to be involved in some very intriguing efforts! Is this how you would have imagined your life playing out, 5 years ago, when you were a college student? In other words, did you plan, at that point, to devote the first part of your career to the conservative cause?
In some ways, I did plan this and in some ways I didn’t. I knew in college that I wanted to go to Washington, DC to work in conservative politics, but I didn’t know I would end up working in social media today. I thought I would have gone to law school by now and become a lobbyist or freelance writer. “Playing around” on the internet is much better than studying for the bar. I also like how new media is a flexible job. It is my goal in 5 years to settle down with my fiancé to begin a family and be a work-at-home mom and when you work online you can do that.
I thought, at various points in the last few years, about leaving DC and finding another kind of job, but I honestly can’t imagine myself NOT working in DC for the conservative cause!
10. Name 3 things that would be on your bucket list if you had to compile one today.
I have been lucky enough to experience or do many of the things I’ve wanted to in life. As I recently blogged, I never thought the Red Sox would win the World Series or a Republican be elected to Ted Kennedy’s seat in my lifetime but both happened! I’ve also gotten a picture with Condoleeza Rice, shaken the hand of President Bush and asked Vice President Cheney a question in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
One person I’ve always wanted to meet is Rush Limbaugh. I’ve been in the same room with him, but I want to talk to him. I would also like to fly on a private jet and have a million dollars.