The Federalist publisher Ben Domenech joined a panel of conservative pundits at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Texas, Friday for a conversation on the fate of the conservative party.
Domenech painted a bleak but realistic picture of the way voters view their representatives, the culture war, and the way American politics works now. The Kavanaugh hearings radicalized Republicans, he said, not just conservatives, and opened their eyes to real attacks from the Left.
“[Kavanaugh] has achieved something that people were fearing with a potential choice like Amy Coney Barrett,” he said. “Which is we have a radicalized culture war that is here now, it’s here tomorrow, it’s here forever as far as the eye can see and it’s not going away.”
Panel moderator Susan Glasser wanted to know if Trump winning a second term was a realistic scenario.
“We can’t pretend like things are the way they used to be because they aren’t … It’s fun to play pretend but it doesn’t do us any good when it comes to analysis,” Domenech said.
Bill Kristol, editor-at-large at The Weekly Standard, sounded a desire for politicians to get away from partisanship: “Shouldn’t some back bench members of both parties and both bodies look up at some point and say, ‘Did I really come here to be a rubber stamp for leadership or an ineffectual protestor occasionally?'”
“What if what the people actually want is the rubber stamp?” Domenech said. “And what if what they want most from most of their representative people is the guy who is just going to be a vote? Do you think that anybody who cares about Kavanaugh over the past couple of weeks knew who he was? They might know that George W. Bush was making calls for him in the Senate … they have no idea who he is. He’s a vote. That’s what he is. He’s a vote for my side. And that’s just the way that American politics works now and I don’t think there’s going to be any change in that regard when it comes to 2020.”