Charles Badger is not your typical 23 year-old. His tersely stylized, self-description on Twitter provides little insight into what he thinks. In the maximum allowed character length below a picture of a jubilant dude in line dance formation, Charles fonts the following: “NY-baked-Southern glazed inquisitive Cosmopolitan. Foodie. Bourbonist. Art-Jazz-Hip-Hop lover w/ a change-the-world complex.”
Okay. None of that seems peculiar. And, most of us are down with those having a can-do spirit to make a difference. But, what he doesn’t text out near his cyber avatar that you quickly gather from his Twitter feed is that he’s ‘say it loud, he’s black and he’s proud’ … to be a Republican.
What? Come again? That last part?
It’s a question he’s asked often: ‘why are you, a black man, a Republican?’ Given African Americans’ historic patronage to candidates with the parenthetical ‘D’ flanking her/his name – he understands folks’ curiosity.
Reporters seldom like to look like they’re asking obvious questions, but when I pose it to him in our upcoming interview, his answer provides real insight into his political paradigm. Charles’ urban upbringing in conditions that he says government failed to make better, has a lot to do with his view. He says he lived in a breeding ground for generational poverty that never improved no matter how much public assistance, programs, and services were piped in to help. That’s why he’s a Republican. He’s witnessed – in his words: “the failure of big government.”
Not content to watch from the sidelines and driven by his “change-the-world” complex, the Berea College graduate became a political operative, even before he’d graduated. Charles has already worked for half-a-dozen political campaigns, including the recent 6th congressional district contest that unseated Democrat challenger Ben Chandler. Did I mention Charles is 23?
If you looked carefully at our election night coverage on KET last month, you saw a glimpse of Charles’ brown dome making a cameo behind the night’s new political star, Congressman-elect Andy Barr, who won that 6th congressional district race. Barr lost to Chandler by less than 700 votes in a match-up two years ago. This time around, Barr scuttled Chandler’s return to the Beltway by more than 11,000 votes. It was a victory he cinched with an arsenal of pro-coal ads, Chandler’s burden of sharing the ticket with a president unpopular in Kentucky, and a tight ground game. Charles Badger had a heavy hand in Barr’s victory. It wasn’t the first rodeo for either and it showed.
Judging by the way things look now, Charles has a long time ahead in the saddle of politics. When you tune into our interview you’ll learn why. He has a strong command of the issues, a sharp articulation of message, and is trying to change the face we typically associate with the Grand Old Party in Kentucky and beyond.
Check out Charles Badger on Connections — Sunday at 1:30pm on KET. You can watch a preview.