Hira Humayun ’17
On Jan. 24, Republican strategist and political commentator Ana Navarro spoke at Smith as part of the presidential colloquia, a day after MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow spoke. The event began at 5:30 PM in JMG Hall and was followed by a Q&A session, open to students, faculty, five college community members and the general public.
Nicaragua-born American, Navarro has appeared on CNN, CNN en Español, ABC News, Telemundo and The View as a political commentator and on Tuesday, she offered the Smith community her take on the outcome of the presidential election and its implications.
“Like many other South Florida immigrants, I fled communism as a child, and it taught me early that elections matter, being engaged matters, being informed matters,” Navarro said. She explained her political affiliation in conjunction with her family background and where she grew up in South Florida and cited politicians from her party whom she admired and saw as “inclusive,” such as Florida congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whom Navarro cited to be “pro- immigration reform, pro- LGBTQ rights, pro- freedom.” She explained how her family fled communism and how Ronald Reagan’s support for that struggle “sealed the deal” for her. She went on to say, “I am proud to be a constituent of my Republican congresswoman and support her vehemently.”
Navarro, who had been part of John McCain’s 2008 campaign, stated her commitment to and belief in Republican values such as “a strong national defense and smaller governance.” She affirmed her belief in the two-party system and her belief that the country would be stronger if there was a bipartisan effort to address complex national issues. She supported a multitude of Republican candidates for the presidency before Trump became the Republican party. “I knew that even if he became the nominee of my party, I would never, ever, support Donald Trump.”
Navarro explained her aversion to the now president grew as he insulted the disabled, immigrants and politicians which she admired. She drew attention to Trump’s anti- immigrant rhetoric by citing his statements about US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. “I refuse to have us divided by color and religion and class, I refuse to allow that to happen even if the person doing the questioning happens to be the president of the United States,” she said.
She then addressed the current situation now that President Trump has been sworn in and what to do in the situation where “you deeply respect the office of the presidency of the United States but you don’t respect the man holding that office.” She fervently listed all the problematic statements Trump had made which she would never forget, citing him as “despicable,” but also stated that now that he has taken office, “we don’t know what he will be like as president.” She went on to state the facts regarding the current administration, such as the lack of diversity and lack of Latino representation in his cabinet, unlike previous Republican presidents. She stressed the importance of diverse voices bringing unique perspectives and voices for debates, and as role models for young citizens.
President Trump, she explained, had made many promises during his campaign, some of which he will keep and others which he will not. Not knowing which would be carried through is a crucial concern for many people whose lives depended on such decisions, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students- a particular group that Navarro has been very outspoken in her support for.
Navarro highlighted Trump’s lack of detailed policy proposals and that he now has to deal with a country that is polarized like never before. Trump entered office with the lowest approval rate of any recent incoming president, the Women’s Marches that his presidency incited were also the subject of much of Navarro’s hope for the country. She drew attention to the fact that being able to protest on such a large scale was a right afforded to Americans that people in many other countries do not have. “This is the right way to send a strong message,” she said as she urged the audience to celebrate living in a country with over 240 years of democracy. “We live in a country where the presidency has been handed down from one person to another 45 times without bullets, without war.”
“In this country we have the right to vote, to democratically elect our leaders and we have the right to protest those leaders,” she said. Expressing her appreciation for the Women’s Marches and the public’s ability to mobilize, Navarro urged the audience to organize and speak up if they are unhappy with the government at any level.
“For me our biggest problem is the political balkanization for America; we are such a polarized nation,” she said. She pressed upon the need to be more tolerant of different points of view, the need to exercise one’s right to free speech and to protest. She concluded by emphasizing that those with different viewpoints also have the same rights. “That one little thing is the magic of the United States of America.”
“I enjoyed hearing a different perspective on the election than what I’m accustomed to from my circles both at home and at Smith,” said Katie Buie ’17.
“Ana Navarro gave a frank account of how her life experiences informed her political alignment,” said Dwight Hamilton, vice president for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. “Ms. Navarro articulated her political philosophy and did so in a way that didn’t call into question people’s right to exist based on their identity. This is rare in today’s political discourse. The Smith community isn’t scared of ideas. I appreciated that she was eager to receive questions from the audience and the Smith community, as usual, asked excellent ones.”