Interview: Dave Rubin’s Message to the Politically Homeless

If you're about to leave the Democrat Party, meet some Republicans in person.

Dave Rubin is a popular political commentator, the host of The Rubin Report, and the author of Don’t Burn This Book. You can follow him on X here.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What is your tequila of choice?

I’m working on my own tequila which we’re hoping will be available in about six months. But my tequila of choice is Clase Azul — not just because the bottle is beautiful and the price point is somewhat high but also because I find it the easiest to drink, with a little vanilla note.

The conservatives that I spend time with are all whiskey drinkers, and they’re afraid of tequila. I don’t know if they think they’re suddenly going to become illegal migrants if they drink tequila, but I find them receptive to Class Azul, and then — welcome to the world of tequila.

So, Class Azul Reposado is the standard, and the Añejo is incredible, but it’s about $500 bucks a bottle.

One thing that helps us remember you were once a liberal is that you’re not a whiskey drinker.

Not a big cigar guy either. I prefer tequila and a little sativa.

You started out as a liberal. What fundamental belief changed with your political transformation over the past decade?

Most people in America are brought up believing that the system is good — that it’s on autopilot and it works. I don't believe that anymore.

I think it was true. We had about 200 years of heading in the right direction, but it didn’t work for everyone. The main belief I've shifted on, and I'm glad to see that a huge swath of Americans have too, is being a little more suspicious of the system: starting to see that this system is not designed to improve my life. You realize you can't be as reliant on systems and have to do more for yourself. And that forces you to care about your community.

The more you care about your local community, the more you start looking at problems from a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach. It empowers you because you realize you can actually effect change.

Many people today feel politically homeless. What is your advice for them?

On the most granular level, they should connect with people in their community. They should know their local congressman and police chief. I met my local mayor. If you know these people, it helps you figure out who's on the school board and where you want to send your kids to school.

But, you're asking about the huge segment of people who are realizing how radical the Democrat Party has become and how it was taken over by a bunch of anti-Americans.

Some of us saw this coming; progressives have destroyed liberalism. One thing I've tried to define is that conservatives aren't Republicans. Conservatism is a set of ideas. Republicans are the political party that conservatives generally vote for. Republicans kind of suck, too, but they're not completely insane like Democrats.

If I sit down with Republican senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Tom Cotton, I get a good sense of what they believe in: the Constitution. They believe in the rule of law. They believe in federalism.

If I sit down with Democrats, I sense that what they believe has nothing to do with our founding documents. They believe in ideas contrary to reality. They've decided that identity politics rules all. And this caused DEI to destroy most of our institutions.

To anyone who finds themselves politically homeless, the first step is upping your engagement locally. The second step, if you're leaving the Democrat Party, is to meet some Republicans. I'm not saying the Republican Party is great, but I think they’re more than willing to have normal discourse.

I qualify that by saying I don't consider myself a Republican. Only in the last two years have I moved to Florida and become a first-time registered Republican. As I say on my show, I'm a “Florida Republican”: I believe in the rule of law, I believe in competent governance, I believe in freedom — which Florida now represents. That doesn't have much to do with the National Republican project, which is screwy and caught up in Trumpism and MAGA.

A debate looms about whether Republicans should set aside ideology, especially on abortion, and focus on winning. What do you think?

Putting aside personal feelings on abortion, which I believe should be safe and rare — also the Democrat position for many, many years — I think 12 to 16 weeks as a compromise is fair.

Twelve weeks was Florida’s law until DeSantis changed it to six weeks before he ran for president. That really hurt him with white middle-class liberals who were transitioning: they were waking up about COVID, which DeSantis excelled at. And they were waking up about wokeism, which he was also great at.

One area that illustrates how Democrats are winning is messaging. “Pro-choice” makes it seem like Republicans want to control women's bodies. Republicans need to rethink their messaging here.

An odd moment has arrived: Trump installed the conservative justices who reversed Roe v. Wade, which was the right decision because there's no constitutionally guaranteed right to an abortion. It’s supposed to be left to the states. And now the states are making individual choices. If you feel very strongly about abortion, you should move to a state that aligns with your abortion views.

But in terms of Republicans winning, evidence points to the fact that running a pro-life platform will not win elections. It might win statewide races in southern or red states, but it won't win at a national level.

And, you have to win if you're ever going to effect change. So it wouldn’t surprise me if Trump — because he is a populist more than a conservative — announces, “I'm for 16-week abortions.”

That would be irrelevant because the President no longer sets abortion policy, but he'll appear more pro-choice compared to his pro-life stance in the last election. And that's just one example of how contradictory the Republican Party is at the moment.

Do you think the best way to sway moderates is to be a Democrat from 30 years ago?

I don't mean to make this about DeSantis specifically, but someone like him: no-nonsense and wants government off your back. We're not going to force your kids to be injected, we're not going to lock you down, we're not going to allow gender transition for kids.

These are normal basics if we flashback to 1995. It’s a winning message — not conservative or liberal, or Democrat or Republican. It's a more classical liberal set of views. But most conservatives are classical liberals. They believe in individual rights, limited government, and live and let live. That defines the wide swath of Americans if we can escape this two-party craziness we’re caught in.

Do you think Trump would be better in a second term?

Trump learned some lessons. But his biggest problem is that Democrats and the mainstream media will want to burn down the country if he wins. They'll unleash violence again.

Let's say a good chunk of people agree with Trump that the deep state, the three-letter agencies, the ever-encroaching government, and the swamp are out of control. If that’s true, he’ll need the best minds, the most hard-working people to be part of his administration. But, Trump has no track record of bringing such people on board.

Almost everyone Trump hired in the last administration turned on him. Or he turned on them: “he’s an idiot,” “she was incompetent,” or “he’s a buffoon” — from Christopher Wray to Bill Barr to Kayleigh McEnaney. The list goes on and on.

Trump's biggest problem is that, even if he's right in identifying his problem, how the hell is he going to get anyone to work for him when they know how it will end? He'll have the same problem regarding his V.P.

You famously left California for Florida. But now moderates in cities like San Fransisco are campaigning to fix crime, bring business back, compete with red states, and undertake massive real estate projects. Do you think they’ll be successful? Or is it a lost cause?

I don't think it's a lost cause because I believe in the human spirit.

Some will fail, and some will turn around. Look at San Francisco emptying out. I saw a map this morning of the heart of San Francisco. Almost every chain store has moved out. There's a ton of cheap retail space and commercial buildings. Eventually, somebody will come in and start putting things back together.

Gavin Newsom proved that if you want to clear the streets, like he did for Xi Jinping, you can do it. He got rid of homeless people for a week, and they all returned. I don't know what he did with them, and nobody's asked him.

Some areas will experience a turnaround. The problem they face first, though, is the Exodus. California has lost over a million people, and New York has lost about a million since COVID-19. Functional people with good jobs and families saw the problem. So they left and took their resources and tax dollars to red states.

And they're voting the right way in red states! DeSantis winning by 20 points is the ultimate proof of an influx — at that time around 800,000 people — who voted Republican. So, you've strengthened red states, and blue states have gotten weaker.

Nobody knew Lee Zeldin, the congressman from New York, when he ran for governor against Kathy Hochul. But, he only lost by 500,000 votes. And, at the time, about 450,000 people had fled New York. Now, it's not to say that every one of them would have voted for Lee Zeldin, but you get the point: the more the shift happens, the bigger the chasm between the red and the blue.

So, some places will experience a level of resurgence. The biggest problem is that progressivism runs deep. It's a cult. And you have to deprogram these people: gender-queer activists, Antifa activists, Hamas supporters. They want to destroy America. Israel is just a little prize of the destruction; America is the big prize. But, if you suddenly have effective democratic governance, they’re neutralized.

At the moment, I don't know of one example of a successful moderate campaign. Dean Phillips is trying to run for president as a moderate Democrat, but he's not gaining traction because the energy isn’t out there. I don't see evidence of change anytime soon. So again, I'm very bullish on red states, particularly Florida.

The way you framed Israel as the little prize and America as the big prize seems correct.

You think they're done if they take out Israel? By the way, they won’t take out Israel; ironically, Israel will be far stronger in the end.

One delusion Israel suffered was that their military, technology, and intelligence were so good for the last 20 years that they thought they were like everybody else, living in a safe area — and they weren't. They'll have to deal with the repercussions of those failures once the war ends.

Israel will be stronger in regard to understanding their real geopolitical positioning. There will be a new generation of absolutely incredible Israeli leaders who have lived this, and many will be ex-soldiers who had to save their countrymen from the most barbaric attacks — literally since the Holocaust. So, Israel will start dealing with things appropriately. Unfortunately, barbarities are baked into the code of Jewish history; but so is survival, and that's what the haters never fully understand.

The question we always ask last: what are you optimistic about?

I'm optimistic about humanity…

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