On the very short list of positives emerging from this election is the rise of the Republican woman as Mad As Hell and Can’t Take It Anymore heroine. From the Trump vs. Kelly standoff to the fact that several female members of the Bush family have either spoken out against Trump or quietly endorsed Clinton, the women of the GOP have often been the ones answering a resounding “no” to the question: Is the party of Lincoln really willing to prop up a bigoted racist misogynist proto-fascist in order to win the White House?
Ana Navarro — former adviser to Jeb Bush and now a conservative talking head — has been anti-Trump for a long time. Last month, in a CNN clip that quickly went viral, she told Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes, “Don’t tell me you’re offended when I say ‘pussy,’ but you’re not offended when Donald Trump says it.” Navarro had maintained that she’d vote for her mother as a write-in candidate, but Monday, with the presidential race in Florida still tight, she confirmed that she was voting for Clinton. Or, rather: “I cast my vote against Donald Trump,” she wrote in a CNN op-ed. “I did it without joy or enthusiasm. I did it out of civic duty and love for our country.”
We spoke with Navarro about the evolution of her outrage, the future of the Republican Party, and how she’s enjoying life as a nationally recognized crusader against toxic masculinity.
How is life for you these days — how are you holding up?
Other than people coming up to me and telling me their sexual-assault stories, just normal life.
Does that take an emotional toll?
It’s kind of weird for me because I have been outraged with Donald Trump from day one, from June 16 , 2015, and it’s been lonely on my island. It all of a sudden feels like people have finally woken up to it.
I wouldn’t have picked sexism, given the level of misogyny in this country, as the issue that would break the race — would you have?
What has been frustrating and surprising to me is that it hasn’t happened before. I don’t understand why it didn’t happen with the POWs; I don’t understand why it didn’t happen with John McCain; I don’t understand why it didn’t happen with Judge Curiel; I don’t understand why it didn’t happen with the Khans. I mean my question is not why did it happen now, my question is why didn’t it happen before?
What is the root of your objection to Trump?
I had been at a few CPAC events and I had heard him, you know, ramble in ignorance and hostility and division. I just found him so repulsive then, because of his lack of information. I mean, this guy doesn’t know anything and he peddles in the worst of America. He brings out the worst in us.
Do you feel like you understand where he comes from?
I hope not. I hope I don’t share the same sets of values and view America the same way. I’m an optimist; I think this country is extraordinary. I came here as a political refugee from Nicaragua, I think this is the best country in the world, and I love the fact that we are all Americans and that this country embraces us all. I refuse to understand where Donald Trump comes from — to me, he doesn’t represent American values; he’s Martian.
Do you have people come up to you and try to argue with you about him?
I had a lady chasing me around the supermarket the other day, you know, wanting to berate me. But I think most of the people know where I stand. It’s put a strain on personal relationships — I have friends who are supporting him. It’s been difficult. There are people I’ve been in the trenches with who are supporting him. Look, I don’t want to lose any friends because of Donald Trump, it’s ridiculous. There are some friends I won’t speak to until after November 9.
On a personal level — can it really be that on November 9, now everything’s okay? I mean, what if he’s elected?
Well, if he’s elected I don’t have to worry about it, ‘cause I’m getting deported, after I’m audited and waterboarded. So I’m going to have to make an entirely new set of friends wherever I choose to settle.
Look, I just think that the passion, the level of intensity that’s out there now is not going to be out there then.
Why, where is it going?
I think his core supporters are going to do a blame-game against those who didn’t support him. I think for the rest, it’s going to opposing president-elect Hillary Clinton.
Where do you stand on her?
I’m not one of these people who hates Hillary Clinton. I have a lot of issues and disagreements with her, but my disagreements with her are about judgment and about policies, they’re not about — I don’t think she’s scum that I have to pick off the bottom of my tennis shoe.
You’ve said infighting within the Republican Party would be less extreme, even if Donald Trump were still the candidate, if there were someone else on the opposite side, like a Joe Biden. What did you mean?
Well, I think people have issues with how wealthy the Clintons have gotten off of politics; I think people have issues with Bill, Bill’s role and Bill’s past — you know, she’s a very flawed candidate. The bottom line is that the Republicans managed to nominate the only candidate that could lose to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats managed to nominate the only candidate that could lose to Donald Trump. People don’t see Hillary Clinton as genuine or relatable, fairly or unfairly. But I think they’re issues that wouldn’t be the case with Joe Biden.
But you don’t mean because he’s a man—
No, not in the least bit. I really don’t think sexism has played a role when it comes to Hillary vs. Trump. I think sexism is playing a role when it comes to Trump and his behavior as a human being — but you know, we’ve been very critical of Trump’s looks. We’ve been very critical of Chris Christie’s looks. So, yeah, we’ve been very critical of Hillary Clinton, but I think it’s an equal-opportunity attack.
You’ve said you were a Republican before Donald Trump and you plan to be a Republican after Donald Trump, so what happens next for you and your party from your perspective?
I think the party needs to rebuild. We need to focus on embracing diversity within our own tent and Republican values we have in common, and I want to be part of that reconstruction.
Okay, but what do we do with the base that he’s fomented? Do the people who are voting for him not belong in this party?
I am not one who says that people who I disagree with do not belong in this party — I may disagree with them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t belong. Surely there are some things we have in common. I just don’t know what they are yet.
This interview has been condensed and edited.