Politics is a tough business. To ostensibly work for the public, you have to get your hands dirty, be personable, and most importantly, be able to get the work done. And with fortunes turning every election cycle (sometimes even earlier), it is a brave person who takes a dive into it without any familial background in the field.
One such person is Shubham Goel, a 22-year-old running for the Governor of California in the United States, making him the youngest candidate for the post. Firstpost spoke with Goel about his candidacy and what he hopes to accomplish by throwing his name in the proverbial hat.
Tell us about your education and professional background
I graduated from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in June 2017 with a major in Economics and a minor in Film and Television. I currently work as a virtual reality CRM Manager for a leading virtual reality company in San Francisco, California. Before that I worked at a nonprofit, Dream Out Loud, where I helped with analytics and consulting. Dream Out Loud brings awareness to the water shortage for elephants who escaped poachers and reside in sanctuaries in Botswana. My work experience prior to that revolves around working in software and entertainment companies where I helped with patent filing, data analytics, and marketing.
What are the main issues that you are running on?
The main points of my agenda are:
- Board of Regret (Regents): Eliminating the governor’s ability to appoint the University of California's board of regents and instead having the students appoint them. This will make the board more accountable and prevent issues such as the time when the president of the University, Janet Napolitano, hid $175 million from students.
- HealthShare: Create a public database of health records for healthcare companies in California that will use artificial intelligence on the data to predict a patient’s risk for medical situations in the future.
- Hollygood: Lower tax cuts through the California Film Commission from $330 million to $600 million a year to keep more film productions in California and capture the larger tax revenues.
- Housing: Build housing. Fining local governments $30,000 fines for not approving or rejecting development projects within 12 months.
- Healthcare insurance: Mandate that all healthcare insurance companies provide free Internet of Things healthcare monitoring devices to their customers. The customers can choose from an assortment of devices which will send real time data to doctors. This will save billions in preventive costs for the health care industry.
- Ban social media for all students in K-12
- Renewable energy: Combine an electrolyser with brackish water to create clean renewable electricity.
- GovBook: Centralised and transparent digital profiles for all California office holders that show their financial interests for the past 10 years and the platforms they advocated for during elections and their progress towards them.
What was the major reason for you to take part in this election?
I wanted to run for governor of California because I wanted to help represent the Indian community and have our voices heard while deciding public policies that affect the state. The Indian community is so great but it’s sad how it is often left out of the discussion with decisions regarding public policy. I hope my running will help Indians and young people understand that all you need is courage and a plan to make a change, and that you don’t need loads of money or fame to make a difference.
Why did you not first work within one of the political parties and try to effect change from within?
I’ve always been an independent thinker and feel that I can relate to independent thinkers as well, with my feasible platforms. My problem is bigger than either party, as it is the entire system as a whole, which is why I decided to go for the biggest position in the state as an Independent.
Do you have any family or friends who hold political office in California?
I do not.
Do you have any campaign staff working for you? Are you running any paid media campaigns for your candidacy?
No, I don’t have any campaign staff or people working for me. Since the beginning I have decided to raise zero funds as I strongly believe that special interests and campaign financing contribute to our extremely slow and inefficient bureaucratic government.
Who do you see as your foremost opponent in this election? As part of your campaign, are you talking about your opponents and why they are not the right fit for governor?
I definitely see the system as a whole as my most formidable opponent. The overall system has made all of these politicians take money from special interests to win elections. I’ve been trying to get into the governor debates lately, but the system has made organisers for governor debates invite only the top polling candidates instead of everyone. It has made a majority of voters vote based on who is in which party versus voting on independent candidates. This results in the same sound bites and wasteful rhetoric that will not do the state any good. But like they say, if you hang around the barber parlours for so long, you are bound to get a haircut.
Do you have any expectations of winning the election? Do you have any polling numbers on the governor's race?
Obviously this race is an uphill battle, but isn’t anything in life worth doing tough? I will give everything I can till the end of the election and then worry about my expectations. This wasn’t about an election but about getting representation for the Indian community and fixing the state I have been born and raised in. I’ll not stop until I help with both.
Being a governor is a full time job and some would say campaigning for one is too. Have you quit your day job to work on your campaign? If not, why so?
Recently I have been working remotely with my full-time job as I have been campaigning. I actually like the balance of the campaign with my virtual reality work as it somehow makes me more productive in both cases. I also think it reaffirms my belief that politicians should also have a job besides their elected position, to remind them that they are not in some political bubble, and so that they are aware of the problems that face their communities.
Given the tremendous odds against your victory, what do you hope to accomplish in case you don't win the election?
I hope to show young people and the Indian community that you don’t need money or fame to make a difference, but rather all you need is courage and a plan. I hope with people seeing that an everyday 22-year-old kid ran for governor, that anything is possible as long as you try.
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Updated Date: May 15, 2018 17:16:09 IST