Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post‘s right-leaning conservative columnist, has a dire warning about the future of the Republican party as it blindly follows President Trump’s form of identity politics.
She declares that it is a “dead end for the party” because “it’s immoral and anti-American to base an entire political movement on one racial group, and it’s a dead-end because that’s not America and (what America) is becoming.”
Speaking on Politico‘s Off-Message podcast, Rubin said she was struck this past week when she looked at a photograph of a dinner to honor Speaker of the House Paul Ryan after his announcement that he would not seek re-election and would retire at the end of this year. She saw the Republican and Congressional leadership, all white males, doing a Trump-style thumbs-up sign to indicate that the Grand Old Party is not collapsing when it is.
Rubin said it showed her that the Republican Party “has become the caricature the left has always said it was – the party of old white men.”
“And that has become more so in the age of Donald Trump,” she added, “when he is actively courting and stoking white resentment.”
This is not the first time Rubin has called Trump a “flat-out racist,” and admitted her disillusionment with what the Republicans have become under Trump.
“Many GOP lawmakers now consider lying in defense of the president to be routine, part of their normal duties as card-carrying Republicans,” Rubin wrote in The Washington Post on Jan. 15, 2018.
“They don’t care that it makes them look foolish to those with eyes to see and ears to hear,” she continued. “They, like Trump, now operate in the populist bubble that depends on protecting Trump and reaffirming their bond with the base on behalf of white grievance.”
Once a Hollywood labor lawyer, it is that kind of outspoken commentary that has helped Rubin to emerge as a voice for a group of intellectual conservatives who do not fit comfortably into either of the two major political parties.
For this group, the attraction of being a Republican before Trump was that it meant embracing American exceptionalism, providing moral leadership to the world, promoting free markets, keeping the central government from getting too powerful and fiscal conservativism, which she says is not “a hoot.”
Rubin sees Paul Ryan as an example of the problem because his decision to follow Trump has meant he had to abandon those traditional conservative values.
“Republicans have permanently eliminated themselves from credibility to govern,” Rubin said. “You can’t be willing to sacrifice core American values for the sake of a tax cut and be deemed to be worthy of trust going forward.”
Rubin believes the Republicans have lost the next generation, the millennials who have shown they are surprisingly idealistic.
She admires the young people who have mobilized in support of sensible gun laws and points out that in Alabama voters from 25 to 29 years of age overwhelmingly supported Doug Jones, the middle of the road Democrat, over morally bankrupt extremist Republican Roy Moore – a warning sign she says the Republicans ignore at their own peril.
And, as always, it starts at the head with the person who speaks for and symbolizes what the party is all about.
“It matters greatly who is president and what the political environment is as you are coming of political age,” says Rubin, who came of age when Ronald Reagan was president. “As the party of Trump. Republicans may lose an entire generation,” she added.
Rubin warns that cutting taxes for the rich doesn’t win over millennials.
“It is a remarkably idealistic generation,” said Rubin. “What motivates these people is not tax policy, is not party economics or party foreign policy; it’s issues that have a moral and a value-laden core.”
“They look upon environmentalism as a moral issue, as a moral cause,” Rubin added. “They look upon guns as an issue of [whether] we as a society value children.”
What Rubin is saying is that America is not just a bunch of old white men calling all the shots anymore and will never be in that situation again.
To lead America, it is necessary to recognize the diversity of opinions, races, political views, sexual orientation, gender differences, and the basic goodness of a people who want leaders to lead by example, not with lies, tricks and phony symbolism.
Rubin dreams about a new political party that would embrace the old conservative values but do so as a way to embrace the ethical, moral, and humane values that most Americans view as their idea of good citizenship.
That means pushing Trump and his politics of nationalism and extremism into the dustbin of history and finding a way back to the idea that we all live in one country, on one planet and despite our differences must act and live as one people.
For many of us, with slight modifications, she is talking about the Democrats.