GOP strategist and TV political commentator Ana Navarro spoke about her experiences in politics, media and current events at a Kennedy Political Union event on Thursday.
The School of Communication and the American University College Republicans co-hosted the conversation with Navarro, which was moderated by SOC professor Jane Hall. Central to the discussion were Navarro’s thoughts on the future of the GOP — a future, she says, that will be without party unity, at least in the short term. That’s not to say that Democrats don’t have their own internal issues, she said.
“If we’re going to be fair, I think there’s a lot of diversity of thought within the Democratic Party as well. Their divisions, their cracks, their systems — are about ideology, they’re not about personality,” Navarro said in a student media interview before the event. “In the Republican Party, the division and the schism we are seeing right now, it’s not about principles, it’s not about convictions, it’s not about policy issues — it’s about Donald Trump.”
Navarro said she is not sure what will happen to anti-Trump Republicans as the GOP moves forward. Navarro belongs to the prominent group of Republicans, often termed “Never Trumpers,” who broke away from the party following the then-candidate’s nomination in 2016.
“The purity test that some want to apply [within the GOP] is, ‘do you support Donald Trump or not,’ and so for me, that’s no longer a political party,” Navarro said in the student media interview. “The people who are with Trump think those of us who want should no longer be in the Republican Party and, go I guess die somewhere, knit, pickup golf? Maybe not golf.”
Now with President Joe Biden’s administration in power, Navarro said that she and her colleagues in multiple networks realized how many topics they can discuss without Trump dominating their time. News has been very U.S.-centric since Trump took office, and Navarro is looking forward to discussing other topics on her shows.
“We are again as a media talking about things like the Iran deal, talking about things like Syria, talking about things like the Paris Climate accord,” Navarro said in the interview. “We’ve been constantly responding to a 24/7 Twitter live president, and that was to the detriment of looking beyond our borders to what is happening in the world that also affects us.”
During the event, Navarro spoke about her moral reasoning and decision process behind voting for Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in the 2020 presidential election, despite being a life-long Republican.
“There was no choice because I’m a human, I’m an American, I’m an immigrant, I’m a Latina, I’m a woman — before being a Republican,” Navarro said. “I’m not going to vote for somebody who I think is just completely unfit, morally, and frankly, intellectually, just because of a party label.”
Navarro also said that she has dealt with a lot of hate — including daily racist and misogynist attacks on social media — and faces constant threats for being vocal about her support for the Biden-Harris administration. Even some of her good friends would turn their faces when seeing Navarro at the same restaurant, she said.
As an outspoken female political commentator, Navarro advocated for more women to join the field. Especially with more awareness about gender inequality brought up in the #MeToo movement, she said she has noticed some changes within the primarily male-dominated media industry.
At CNN, for example, where Navarro said most hosts have historically been male, more women are being brought on than ever before.
In response to a question from AUCR about how to engage in civil discourse with those who hold opposing views, Navarro spoke about her experiences critiquing then-President Barack Obama on CNN with her colleague and former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile, who Navarro described as an Obama defender and advocate.
“Oftentimes after debating vigorously, we’d go have drinks, and oysters, or whatever watering hole in Washington, and people would walk in and marvel because they have just seen us fighting on TV,” Navarro said. “And I just think you make a conscious decision, ‘okay, I am going to talk to this person. … I’m going to try to listen to what they say and tell them how I feel.’ I do draw a line on conspiracy theorists and white supremacists and racists and bigots.”