Chris Bedford serves as the Vice Chairman for Young Americans for Freedom. He is a graduate of American University. Before joining The Federalist as Senior Editor, Bedford was the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Caller. He was responsible for reinstating the print publication of Young Americans for Freedom, The New Guard.
1) What inspired you to reboot The New Guard?
Some friends and I had just wrapped up school at the downturn of the economy, when people couldn’t get a job anywhere. We remembered that Bill Buckley founded a magazine when he was a kid, and Bill Kristol founded a magazine when he was a kid. Why couldn’t we?
The New Guard and Young Americans for Freedom, which we were very familiar with, had such a phenomenal reputation of being founded and run by young people just out of school. We got in contact with a friend at YAF, and it just so happened that he was looking for a group of editors to raise the mantle of this great magazine again. He brought by a couple of cases of old New Guards that we’d only seen online before and in school libraries. We were able to dig into those for inspiration and see all of our heroes having written in them when they were our age.
We recruited people from all around school, from our friendship circles, and from our jobs. Our friend’s mother was the cartoonist and my neighbor did some of the watercolors. We did everything ourselves. We’d edit it on the school computers in the lab, and the only people who were paid the entire time were the folks who printed it and did the final design. When we first started The New Guard magazine again, we printed about 5,000 copies, and by the time we finished, we were printing 25,000 copies. We had congressmen and senators writing for us, and we were selling advertisements. It was an incredible experience.
2) How has working with Young America’s Foundation and Young Americans for Freedom influenced you and your career?
I owe so much to YAF. The people I met, the things I learned, the opportunities I had, and the network of conservatives that spanned decades were all incredible resources. To be able to go to dinners where I met people who were younger than me and interested in conservative politics, people who have been doing this since the 1960’s, people who were friends with Bill Buckley, and people who were personal friends of Ronald Reagan—it was unbelievable. There’s nothing that beats being a part of something that’s not just there as a flash in the pan. It’s not just something that will disappear with the next election or as a passing fad. YAF is and always has been here to stay because it’s an integral part of American history.
3) The Students for a Democratic Society prompted the need for Young Americans for Freedom in the 60’s. Do you think that young people are winning the cultural fight against Marxism? Do you think the Left back then is different than the Left today?
I don’t see much of a difference between the Left back then and the Left today. They were violent. They were anti-free speech. They were totalitarian. They were anti-American and anti-intellectual honesty. The new Left is the same.
America is a strange place in that our left-wing is different from any other classical left-wing or at least all of the major ones. The Russian communists and the Chinese communists were fiercely nationalistic. They were pro-Russia. They were pro-China. We have a strange thing where our left-wing students hate this country. They don’t want anything to do with it except to destroy it.
The young people and the conservative activism that I’ve seen has really inspired me. It’s incredible, but we’re not in a good place on our campuses and in our country. Even in the 1960’s this country was never as divided as it is today on what the country stood for, what its founding was, when it was even founded, who our heroes should be, where our future should go, what is right, what is just, and if we should even be a country. I think it’s starting to look more like the 1850’s than the 1960’s.
4) Even though the document was founded in the ‘60’s, do the principles of the Sharon Statement still apply to the modern Conservative Movement?
It’s essential. The Sharon Statement is the most succinct declaration of Western and American values since the Bill of Rights. There is no better document written in the 20th century to summarize what we believe. This goes far beyond political parties, what gets people elected, or what’s popular at the moment—be it in the 60’s, the 80’s, the 2000’s, or now. It speaks core principles and eternal truths.
5) Do you have a favorite memory or story to share with The New Guard readers from your time as a YAF activist?
I might not ever be able to repeat my absolute favorite memories outside of a YAF dinner, but I will say one thing that will always stand out in my mind is celebrating our 50th anniversary in California. We were a bunch of kids who pulled together a spectacular event that looked like it was run by adults, and to see people who had been there at the founding at Sharon, Connecticut, along with the people who would go on to be the founding of the movement—it was surreal.
I have very fond memories of the folks I’ve met and the Reagan Ranch in California, but I’d say the most recent memory that I have is standing at my wedding with three of my best friends who I met through Young Americans for Freedom.
6) What are your thoughts on Greta Thunberg winning the TIME Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year award? Do you think that conservatives are winning the war on media bias given that you’ve had such a successful career in promoting honest and engaging journalism yourself?
It’s foolish how influential Greta Thunberg was. I don’t begrudge TIME for choosing her as someone to be the Person of the Year. TIME doesn’t traditionally choose somebody because they like them, although they do. They choose someone who has had an impact. The problem with Greta’s impact and media bias, is that Greta wasn’t that impactful. She sailed across the ocean on a giant sporting yacht with a crew that flew home, to complain in an understandably childlike manner about completely unproven science to a group of elite bureaucrats who ignored her. She represents a doctrine of fear and control.
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s old chief of staff said it best when he said that the Green New Deal isn’t actually an environmental plan, it’s a plan for remaking our economy. That was honest leftism. They are against our jobs. They are against our society. They are against prosperity. They are against our future, and I don’t think there’s anything that people should be more worried about, something that’s the biggest threat, than the radical environmental Left. YAFers should take notice of Greta winning this award, because a lot of people think she’s right, and we have to show that they’re wrong.