How 'owning the libs' could hurt the GOP politically: ex-Republican
Before she became a Never Trumper in 2016, Washington Post columnist voted Republican in presidential elections —from Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984 to Mitt Romney in 2012. And while she was never a far-right culture warrior, Rubin viewed the GOP as a party of ideas. But Rubin, this week in her column, argues that when "owning the libs" is a Republican's primary motivation, it's painfully obvious that the Trumpified GOP lacks substance.
In fact, the ex-Republican emphasizes, "owning the libs" is likely to damage her former party.
"Republicans' embrace of conspiracy theories, election denial, vaccine mandate opposition and, frankly, nihilism pose real threats to our democracy and to the health of Americans," the 59-year-old columnist laments. "But just because Republicans delight in 'owning the libs' does not mean their behavior helps them politically. To the contrary, Democrats may well make hay out of (the) Republican trail of chaos."
Rubin points to California's recent gubernatorial recall election as a prime example of "owning the libs" hurting the GOP. The GOP frontrunner in that election was far-right radio host Larry Elder, and when California voters opted to keep Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, it wasn't even close — Newsom enjoyed a landslide victory.
"Indeed, part of the lesson of the California recall is that spotlighting Republicans' extremism is a winner for Democrats," Rubin explains. "At times, it seemed as if California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) was running against Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and his abortion bounty law and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and his insistence on banning lifesaving vaccine and mask requirements."
Rubin continues, "Republicans and their media surrogates are quick to point out that California is a deep-blue state, but GOP extremism on these issues certainly motivated Democrats to turn out — something Newsom's campaign worried about for months. There is nothing like the specter of misogynistic anti-abortion policy or Republicans' willful refusal to fight a deadly pandemic to engage the Democratic base. Moreover, in stressing these issues, Democrats do nothing to alienate independents or sane Republicans. To the contrary, there are broad coalitions in favor of mask and vaccine mandates and against spying on and harassing women seeking an abortion."
The fact that something offends liberals, Rubin stresses, doesn't automatically make it a good or smart idea.
The columnist observes, "Republicans remain invested in deadly vaccine resistance…. In a similar vein, the Senate GOP has gone all in with its embrace of economic self-destruction and obstruction. In their unanimous refusal on Monday to raise the debt ceiling, they put themselves on the side of fiscal Armageddon, not 'conservatism' or any other responsible philosophy of governance."
The more MAGA Republicans obsess over "owning the libs," Rubin argues, the more they fail from a policy standpoint.
"Even Democrats — who are often loath to sound 'too negative' or to use blunt language instead of complex policy arguments — should be able to figure out a campaign message for 2022," Rubin writs. "Republicans are neither conservative in economic outlook — look at the business community's reaction to the debt ceiling standoff — nor pro-life. Consider the innocent life they put at risk in their management of the pandemic. They fail to put the country's national security above partisan politics. Theirs is a radical, reckless and revanchist party — one far too dangerous to trust with power. Call it the 'Chaos Party, a term that will remind suburban voters and college-educated voters why they fled the GOP in 2020."
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