J. Rubin Is Moving Away from Conservatism

I used to avoid Jennifer Rubin back in the Obama days, when she could find nothing good to say about the President and nothing bad to say about Romney, as well as the way she insisted that everything conservative was better. Since the Great Orange Slug slithered down the escalator, though, I’ve been reading her regularly, watching her gradually move back to reality. Today’s column is the next step:

Understanding the mysterious group of Never Trumpers

As the title implies, much of the column is about praising the Never Trumpers for the work on living rent-free in Trump’s head. But midway down the column, there is this:

[A] lot of what conservatives said in the past about progressives (They don’t believe in the rule of law!) was flat wrong; a lot of what progressives said about conservatives was right, most especially the accusation that racism was far more prevalent in the GOP than some of us wanted to acknowledge. Leaving behind tribal identification can be refreshing but also sobering.

She isn’t done:

“[C]onservatism” — whether libertarianism/hostility to government or Trumpian right-wing populism — has become an intellectual dead-end, horribly ill-suited to the needs of Americans in a globalized economy and a nation riven by race, geography and great gaps in wealth. The most interesting effort to think through a practical and humane alternative philosophy comes from the Niskanen Center, whose work I have frequently referenced and continue to follow with interest. In any event, we could use a heavy dose of pragmatism, moderation and creativity in addressing a raft of issues from climate change to productivity to policing.

All this means the GOP has to lose and lose badly. It pretty much has to die because it’s gone too far to live:

Well, what will happen to the GOP? Who knows? But I doubt there will be an opportunity for introspection unless Republicans face devastating losses this November. That’s one reason it is critical they lose by large margins. I personally don’t think that politicians who betrayed their oaths and supported Trump can ever be trusted again. I cannot see myself ever voting for anyone who voted to acquit Trump or who mouthed Russian propaganda or sat mutely as Trump venerated the Confederacy. An entirely new generation of political leaders (plus Sen. Mitt Romney and the few sane Republican governors) may be needed to throw off the yoke of right-wing populism. In the meantime, it is worthwhile to urge Democrats to remain in a moderate, reality-based lane.

OK, she still likes Romney. But Romney is the first and only Senator to vote to convict a president of his own party. And Romney has been speaking out against Trump more and more. She still doesn’t like what she calls “socialism” — but she does see the need to move in that direction:

In any event, some excess governmental action right now is greatly preferable to a party uninterested in good governance and rife with racism, authoritarianism, xenophobia and reverence for dictators.

We can argue about her misuse of “excess” but in the meantime give her credit for being willing to admit (if not necessarily in so many words) that she was wrong, and for being willing to change and grow. We are going to need thinkers like Rubin as we rebuild the American system of exchanging and debating ideas in an honest fashion.

I’ll leave her with the last word:

We have spent four years pining for the time that we can return to normal policy debates. I’ll agree with them sometimes and disagree with them sometimes. But Harry Truman was right — if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. I will say, however, that on the issues on which our democratic survival depends (reining in executive power, reestablishing the integrity of the Justice Department, rooting out corruption, widening democratic participation, etc.), Democrats are on the right side. Everything else is a negotiation. Let’s get our priorities in order, folks.

(Well, I have to add one more word: It’s been a lot longer than four years, but, again, let’s give her credit for seeing it now.)