In a talk at the Friend Center on Wednesday, Jennifer Rubin, opinion writer for the Washington Post, reassured the audience that United States democracy is in better shape than the public thinks and that a spike in civic engagement indicates a promising future for the country.
“The governing narrative that you often hear is that democracies around the world are under attack and that they are crumbling. The first part of that is absolutely true. The second part of that, the crumbling part, I think is actually wrong, and refreshingly so,” Rubin said. “I would make the case that a lot of these institutions are actually doing fairly well.”
Rubin pointed to the impeachment proceedings, “vigorous” press coverage, and active courts for evidence of the system’s success.
“Our democracy is in better health than one might expect,” she said, before citing the unprecedented voter turnout of the 2018 election.
Rubin also talked in depth about the new role women have taken on in post-Trump America. She said the surge in women running for office, the Women’s March, and the #MeToo movement were all products of Trump winning the presidency.
“It was a tremendous shock that was felt when they witnessed this election of a man who was clearly unqualified, clearly misogynistic, and he had just beaten the first major-party woman nominee who was infinitely more qualified and more knowledgeable. How could this happen in America? How could Americans have done this?” she said.
The shock of Trump’s election not only led women to reevaluate their political beliefs and levels of personal engagement but, according to Rubin, his later actions have caused Republican party members to reassess their loyalty to the party and how far they are willing to follow their president. She cited the House’s recent response to Trump’s withdrawal from Syria, in which 129 Republicans voted with the Democrats. She also reflected on the changing makeup of Congress.
“Imagine if the House had not gone Democratic. We would probably never have seen the Mueller Report. We would not have known, let alone be going to an impeachment process, based on the president’s enlistment of a foreign government in an election,” Rubin said. “None of the other scandals would have been under some kind of scrutiny. It was really a point in time when people had to make that decisive choice: are we going to allow Donald Trump to be unchecked, or are we going to retain the checks and balances of the American constitutional system?”
Near the end of the lecture, she circled back to the promising future she sees for America.
“There has to be some reckoning on the Right that this is not a helpful phenomenon and that they are disarming themselves by blocking out facts they don’t like and by twisting reality. I don’t see this great awakening happening any time soon. The median age of the Fox News viewer is 68 years old. This will not go on indefinitely,” she said, garnering laughter from the crowd. “I think the better way of thinking about this is that there’s a generational problem on the Right and in the right wing media, and that is they have relatively no appeal to younger generations.”
The lecture was held in Friend Center 101 on Oct. 16 at 4:30 p.m.