Toss away the labels and groupthink, and you’ve got a solid chance of helping a progressive believer see the light — as long as they let reason, not emotion rule their thinking.
That’s exactly what happened to Dave Rubin, host of The Rubin Report and former progressive who now calls himself a classical liberal. Rubin, who recently filmed a video with Prager U about his conversion, joined The Glenn Beck Program on Tuesday.
“I think something happened to ‘progressive’ in the last couple of years where it went from at least some healthy dose of true liberalism, classical liberalism and it’s become just an authoritarian mess,” Rubin said.
“So maybe I was a little late to the party on some of that stuff. Maybe I have just a high tolerance for some old-fashioned BS. Really, if you look back at my show for the last two years, I’ve spent the last two years of my life trying to get some of the good liberals to realize what’s happening, and I think I succeeded at some of that. But clearly the progressives are going off the deep end.”
Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: Dave Rubin. A talk show about big ideas and free speech. He does the RubinReport.com. I was out in Los Angeles, I don’t know, a few weeks ago. Stopped by his beautiful studios in Los Angeles and did about an hour with him. I found him to be extraordinarily engaging and not the guy I thought, had you known that he used to work at, what Was it? Young Turks Network, which is run by a crazy guy, in my opinion.
But Dave is with us now. Hi, Dave, how are you?
DAVE: Glenn, it’s good to be with you. I should tell you before we start that I am actually on vacation right now on an undisclosed island. I’ve been off the grid for about five days. So I have no idea what’s happening in the world. I still have five days in front of me here. So this is the only on-the-grid thing I’m doing. So whatever we do here, let’s just not ruin my vacation.
GLENN: Okay. So that we shouldn’t tell you what happened over the weekend. We’ll leave it — we won’t ask you any of those questions.
DAVE: Yeah. Well, we should probably stay away from that.
I did — you know, I opened my phone once, just to check what time it was. And I glanced at my Twitter feed for a second. I can see a lot of crazy things are happening.
GLENN: Yeah, crazy things are happening.
DAVE: I don’t have to tell you, Glenn, you know, when you do what we do, the amount of information you can be slammed with, coming from every angle, constantly, it actually does take a toll on the brain.
GLENN: No, it does.
DAVE: And I desperately needed a little break. So I’m in the midst of that break right now, but I’m looking —
GLENN: Well, jeez, I’m sorry that we scheduled this on your vacation.
DAVE: No, I thought I could do one thing to stay — otherwise, I could really end up being one of these full-time vacation people. And then it’s over.
GLENN: Those are crazy.
So, David, you said you used to be a progressive.
DAVE: Yeah. Yeah.
GLENN: And you’ve just done something with Prager University, where you say how progressives have now taken to banning words, et cetera, et cetera. But that is who the progressives were at the beginning. They’ve never really changed. They have — they have tried to make themselves appear as though they are classic liberals, but they’re not.
What gave you the — what woke you to this?
DAVE: Well, more than anything else, I’ve always considered myself liberal first. So I remember literally 1988 when I was in a seventh grade social studies class, and Michael Dukakis was running against George H.W. Bush, and I remembered, you know, in the media they kept calling Dukakis liberal, liberal. And I remember at some point during that, we were doing a mock election in the class. And Dukakis had to run away from the word “liberal.” And that just made no sense to me.
I thought, liberals care about minorities. Liberals care about social issues. Liberals seem to be nicer people. You know, this is me in seventh grade.
And over the — I think 20 years or so since then, I still have remained true to my liberal principles. And we can go through all of those things: I’m for gay marriage. I’m pro-choice. I’m against the death penalty. I’m for reforming the prison system. Et cetera. Et cetera. I’m for strong education. All those things.
And I think something happened to progressive in the last couple of years where it went from at least some healthy dose of true liberalism, classical liberalism, and it’s become just an authoritarian mess. And, you know, I’ve had plenty of people on my show, you included and guys like Dennis Prager and Ben Shapiro and a few others, who have said, you know, at their core, even though they’re conservatives, they’re really conservatives now because there are classical liberals.
And so maybe I was a little late to the part on some of that stuff. Maybe I have just a high tolerance for some old-fashioned BS. Really, if you look back at my show for the last two years, I’ve spent the last two years of my life trying to get some of the good liberals to realize what’s happening. And I think I succeeded at some of that. But clearly the progressives are going off the deep end.
GLENN: Okay. So tell me — when you say you’re trying to get liberals to understand, what do you mean by that? And where are you seeing progress?
DAVE: Well, look, liberalism at its core is live and let live. People don’t understand that anymore because it’s been so conflated with progressivism and leftism. But at its core, liberalism means you’re liberal in that you’re for liberty, for human dignity and liberty, and you have your life to do as you see fit and pursue happiness as you see fit for yourself and your family and the people around you and all those things.
Now, that, of course, sounds a lot like Libertarianism. And I talked a bit on my show about it. And we talked about it a couple weeks ago, about a little bit of a difference between classical liberalism and Libertarianism, where a classical liberal, generally, you see a little more utility for the government, where Libertarian is kind of hard to pin them down exactly. You know, some of them don’t want driver’s licenses. Like, it’s sort of all over the map.
So where I’ve seen success is that I’ve seen a lot of former progressives — I mean, my email blows up every day, and my Twitter and all that, of former progressives saying, “Wow, this isn’t what I signed up for. Maybe I didn’t realize it.” It’s a lot of young people, which is interesting.
So for someone like you, that’s saying progressivism was always this. I think for younger people, because of the social stuff — so something like gay marriage, where progressives were leading the charge on that, it made it seem like progressives were the good guys.
But already that’s a couple years ago. It’s the law of the land now. And I don’t see really people on the right fighting it. And even when I sat down with you, you said maybe it’s not — I think — I don’t want to totally paraphrase you, but you basically said, maybe it’s not what I would have wanted. But it is the law now. And kind of live and let live.
And I think that attitude is really what can build bridges. So for me, the idea that right now I feel that I can build a bridge with Glenn Beck much more easily than I can with people on the left is a huge political shift for me. But, you know, that’s what life is all about, that you change and people change. And you have to try to find places where you agree instead of just screaming that everybody else is a bigot and a racist and the rest of that nonsense.
PAT: Dave, usually people don’t take kindly to somebody on their side saying things like this. And, you know, having any kind of change of heart. Are you getting a lot of — are you getting a lot of pushback? Are you getting a lot of virulent tweets and response from what you’ve been saying lately?
DAVE: Yeah. I mean, look, you know, the way we interact these days, because we’re all doing it behind a computer, because so many people are doing it anonymously and, you know, create all these fake accounts, it’s hard to pilfer any truth out of what really matters or whatnot. Yeah, I get a couple bad articles —
PAT: Yeah, you can’t be very popular at the Young Turks Network anymore, right?
DAVE: Well, look — yeah, well, none of those guys will talk to me. And really, there was a direct line through — over the course of the last two years, and particularly the free speech stuff, when Charlie Hebdo happened and when that whole blowup happened on realtime between Sam Harris and Bill Maher versus Ben Affleck, where they were trying to explain really complex issues related to the difference between the nominal average Muslim person and what an Islamist is and what a jihadist is and all of this stuff. Really complex stuff. And just the knee-jerk response to yell bigot and racist. And that if anybody didn’t immediately say they were for gay marriage, the second you were for gay marriage, then they’re a homophobe.
And if they immediately aren’t okay with the bathroom designation that you want, the second you want it, they’re a transphobe. Or all of these things.
This isn’t — it’s not a mature enlightened way of thinking. It’s actually completely the reverse of that.
And I’m a firm believer — Glenn, you know this. I’m married. I’m gay married. Okay. So, you know, I think that I can show people that you don’t have to bark and shame people into liking you. No one likes that. What you can do is be a responsible human being and show people that that’s okay.
And so these guys — look, the progressives have used all these words to the point that they’re meaningless. And what I hear now, and I’ve done a couple videos on this recently, is that when you’ve pinned everybody else to be Hitler basically — because this is what they’re doing: Everyone else is a bigot and a racist and Hitler, blah, blah, your only other out then is violence. And I think we’re already seeing the underpinnings of that. And I suspect we’re going to see more of it unfortunately.
GLENN: I will tell you, Dave, I sat with you — and, first of all, let me correct you on one thing.
GLENN: I was — I’m — my stance on gay marriage has been the same since the late 1990s. And that is, while my faith says that’s not right, my stance on that is, that’s not my decision. That’s between you and your God and you and whoever. And the government has nothing to do with it.
GLENN: So I was pro-gay marriage years before Obama and Hillary Clinton were.
GLENN: And yet I was the bigot. I just don’t believe the government has any place — you work out your marriage, I’ll work out my marriage. I don’t have a right to tell you what to believe, and you don’t have a right to tell me what I should believe.
DAVE: By the way, Glenn, think what a beautiful thing that is. So first off, I apologize for misrepresenting your position.
GLENN: No, no, that’s fine.
DAVE: But think about what a beautiful thing that is, that you as a Libertarian are saying, I don’t care about this contract that you want to enter. Maybe my religion says something else. But I respect your ability to live as a — as a human being on this planet, and I don’t want the government in on that. And then a liberal from the same position — a classical liberal could say, I believe that two people should be allowed to do the same thing that straight people are allowed to do.
So you can come to the same conclusion through different political lenses. And that’s I think why this bridge is now being built between true liberals and Libertarians and some conservatives.
GLENN: Yeah, I would consider myself more of a classic liberal than a Libertarian. But people don’t understand what a classic liberal is anymore.
DAVE: Yeah. I’m working on it. I’m working on it.
GLENN: So, David, where do we go from here? Because I keep asking this of people in the press and people on both sides, you have people that want to burn it down, literally. Steve Bannon calls himself a Leninist, wants to burn the whole system down. Then you have the people on the left that want to burn things down, and they are actually active in the streets. And nobody is willing to talk to each other. Donald Trump calls the press names. The press keeps calling him, you know, a liar.
We’re not getting anywhere. What — what’s coming?
DAVE: Well, you’re right that we have a toxic mess on our hands right now. Because when you have the left — you know, we know they’re okay with violence. And we know that these words — as I said, they’ve pinned themselves in a corner. And now they have the perfect bogeyman in Trump. So, you know, they pin themselves — imagine if Trump started to do some good things. Let’s say the economy really took off. He lowered taxes. Trade deals worked out. He didn’t care that much about the social stuff which I don’t think he really does care about.
Well, they’ve talked about him as Hitler for so long, that they can’t give him any credit, so they have to keep trying to undermine him. This is a huge problem. So I think for guys like us, the important thing is that we can show people that you are allowed to agree to disagree. You don’t have to disagree with anyone on anything. I don’t even know that I agree with myself on any given day of everything that I thought the day before. And that — that’s called being a human. That’s just having a little humility. And understanding — you know, it’s so funny. I try not to get too caught in the Twitter thing. Because it’s a world of its own.
But everybody has to have an opinion about everything. You know, so like we’ll do — Obama did the thing with Cuba. And suddenly people who I had never heard say a word about Cuba before. People who know nothing about politics. Everyone suddenly is an expert on our relations with Cuba. And everyone is an expert on the Iran nuclear deal, et cetera, et cetera. And I think what we have to try to do is be a little old-school in our thinking and be okay with sitting across from people and, you know, it’s a big country. And, you know, we’re going to disagree on some stuff. And the battle of ideas is the important thing.
And just because someone doesn’t change the second that you change, it doesn’t mean that they’re a bad person. And I think that — we can get some of this stuff across. But, of course, our job is harder. Because it would be a lot easier if we just started a coalition of people that happened to scream at people all the time. That’s how you get clicks. That’s how you get the numbers and all of that. But, you know, I’m not on this planet for that. I don’t think you are either. And we got our work cut out for us.
GLENN: Dave Rubin from the RubinReport.com. Always good to talk to you, Dave.
Hope to talk to you again in the future. In the meantime, go back to the beach or whatever it is you’re doing and forget about the rest of the world for a while.
DAVE: That — that is where I’m headed right now. Thank you, Glenn.
JEFFY: Good luck.
GLENN: Thank you. Buh-bye. Dave Rubin. Good guy. Did a really interesting interview with me. I didn’t know what to expect. Didn’t know about this big change in him.
STU: I don’t even take your calls on vacation. I can’t believe he did.
GLENN: I know. That was crazy. Why would you do that?
STU: I have a tough time taking them during the workweek.
GLENN: I know. Yesterday I had the day off. And the phone rang and rang and rang. And I didn’t answer it once. And that wasn’t because it was a holiday. I just don’t ever do that anymore. So if you were trying to call, and that was you, Stu, sorry.
STU: It wasn’t, I promise.