Five Questions with Hayim Feuer
Hayim Feuer’s strategic pursuit of a career in politics
Lander College of Arts & Sciences (LAS) Business Management student Hayim Feuer was barely out of high school when he began assisting with political campaigns. In 2008, conservative Washington State gubernatorial hopeful Dino Rossi launched his candidacy at the same juncture that Feuer was volunteering with a couple friends for the King Country Republican Party. The two causes naturally overlapped, and before long, Feuer was offering Rossi “whatever he needed help with, whether it was mailers, talking to people or organizing an event.”
The events of that year left an indelible impression on the aspiring policy-influencer. (“You really make some progress,” he reflects on those “empowering” months promoting local party affiliates.) Now just a few credits shy of graduation, Feuer has designs on full-time work behind the political curtain, marketing and branding campaigns for nominees he ideologically aligns with. We asked the recent New York transplant and soon-to-be Touro alum five questions about engaging in the political process, generational obstacles and models for change.
Touro: So many people get disenchanted by politics. What specifically about working on Dino Rossi’s campaign made solidified your ambition?
Hayim Feuer: People say political divides are very firm and very strong. It’s amazing, though: when you explain certain issues to people, the differences aren’t that major. It’s not like, “Oh, that person identifies as Democrat, there’s no way he's gonna vote for Dino Rossi.” I found that not to be the case at all. People are able to alter their positions, and I really like that you can make a difference even when you view someone as your political enemy or opponent.
When did an interest in the political process first take root for you?
HF: I remember in sixth grade, when the race was between Al Gore vs. George Bush, and I remember not knowing much about it. The controversy interested me, and I thought it was interesting to pick up a couple of positions. And then when I was a sophomore in high school, we had a debate in front of my school over Bush vs. Kerry, and I got to represent the George Bush side, his domestic policy. The Bush team won the debate. They were down before the debate, and then they picked up several votes afterward. It was encouraging. I really enjoyed doing the research to create my argument, and then the back and forth, trying to explain the benefits of this position.
When you got to Touro, how were you looking to refine or sophisticate your skills?
HF: I started to learn that Karl Rove and more famous strategists within the parties were using marketing more and more. And, of course, “Change we can believe in” is a slogan everybody identifies with Barack Obama, and you start to see that these marketing campaigns are more valuable, and these political campaigns are more interested in having professional marketers work with them. There are two aspects to marketing that I think really help in politics: figuring out who your audience is and then how to identify who you’re selling to, and also there’s the promotion of the candidates, which is the same thing as promoting an iPhone or McDonald’s. You have to decide how to use those resources, and you have to explain to people why they want that thing.
What’s the biggest obstacle to engaging other young people in the political process?
HF: I think there’s a certain amount of frustration. Most people I speak to my age about politics will say something like, “Both sides are crooks, and trust me, nothing’s getting done, and it’s not really two parties.” People are disenchanted. They just don’t think anything is gonna change. The real way to get younger people involved is to say what you’re gonna do and do it and not play games. You see it now with the debt debate. You see Republicans like, “We’re never gonna have any tax raises” and then Democrats like, “We’re never gonna cut any entitlements.” Both sides said they were going do something and neither did it is going to be the final thing, and I think that’s why people are upset.
Is there a recent example of people making a real impact on the political landscape that you point to for inspiration?
HF: Look at the Tea Party. Everybody said it was a bunch of kooks who couldn’t get anything done. Nobody thought it would make a difference, that a bunch of grumpy people could really change anything, and there was a massive change in the House of Representatives—an unprecedented change.