Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and political contributor, spoke at the University of Michigan’s Lydia Mendelssohn Theater Monday night as a part of the “Policy Talks @ the Ford School” series. Navarro discussed the fracturing of the Republican Party and her thoughts on current domestic issues.
Navarro is a Nicaraguan-born Republican political contributor to CNN, ABC and Telemundo. She previously served on Jeb Bush’s 1998 gubernatorial transition team and John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Before introducing Navarro, Public Policy Dean Michael Barr addressed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that occurred last Wednesday in Parkland, Florida. 17 people died when former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire near the end of the school day. Barr questioned whether policy will change with this recent event.
“Again, (we) are saying never again,” Barr said. “I guess the question that I face today, and you are facing, is will we mean it this time?”
Navarro also began her speech by addressing the recent shooting. Navarro lives in Miami, about an hour from Parkland.
“I come here with a heavy heart today,” Navarro said. “This is the first time that I’m at a school campus since the Stoneman Douglas shooting last week. That happened about an hour up the road from where I live. But the reality is it could happen anywhere. It could happen to anyone.”
Navarro felt she should apologize for the current political environment she believes her generation created.
“I feel like I should apologize for my generation and the ones that came before me,” Navarro said. “We’ve screwed this up for you guys. We’ve become so political. We’ve become so (emboldened) to special interest groups.”
Navarro then went on to explain how it feels to be a Republican given the divide between President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress.
“We are a house divided,” Navarro said. “Being a Republican right now feels like a Charles Dickens novel. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It should be the best of times because the Republicans have a majority of legislatures … Yet they haven’t been able to get much done.”
Navarro also addressed her specific opinions regarding current national issues. One issue she specifically discussed was the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA was created in 2012 to delay removal action against undocumented individuals who came to the U.S. as children, provided they abide by certain education and legal guidelines. In September, Trump dissolved the program, giving Congress until March 5 to decide on the policy’s fate. Navarro said she is in favor of keeping DACA.
“It is unacceptable,” Navarro said. “It is horrible that we are allowing over a million young people who are American in every way but one, some of whom I’m sure are a part of this school community, it's unacceptable that we are keeping their lives and their dreams in limbo.”
Navarro then went on to explain some of the positives she has seen with the Trump administration, particularly with the economy.
“Through the tax bill and eliminating regulations, he’s made it a much more business-friendly environment,” Navarro said. “The stock market is up. Unemployment is down. People will be taking more pay home.”
She also addressed negatives she sees in the Trump administration.
“He has not acknowledged that he had a domestic abuser working in the White House,” Navarro said. “He has not acknowledged the role of guns in mass shootings. He has not acknowledged the role of Putin and Russia in meddling in our elections.”
The domestic abuser Navarro referred to is Rob Porter, former White House staff secretary. Porter resigned from his position Feb. 7 after his ex-wives came forward describing abuse allegedly suffered by his hands.
“America is woke,” Navarro said. “We’ve seen it in the ‘Me Too’ movement. We’ve seen it in the marches. We’ve seen it in the impromptu demonstrations that we’ve seen at the airports after the Muslim ban … We’ve seen it in each student at Stoneman Douglas. On all sides of the political spectrum, America is aware, is engaged, is far more informed.”
In the question and answer portion, Navarro addressed the need for diversity of thought when a question was posed regarding what to avoid when engaging in dialogue with Republicans.
“As Americans, often times when we think of diversity, we think of ‘Okay, let’s have a Black person, a Hispanic, a woman, and a gay’ … We’ve lost focus on diversity of thought,” Navarro said. “It’s very important to be a messenger about your experiences and your thoughts … But also take in different experiences.”
Engineering freshman Jeremy Atuobi said he was happy to hear a Republican voice on campus.
“It’s great that we hear a Republican voice that is nationally recognized on a day-to-day basis,” Atuobi said. “I was very impressed with the questions that people asked especially given the time we have on this campus with people like Richard Spencer trying to speak … Having Ana Navarro here, I think the timing was perfect.”