Interview: Kimberly Ross Talks Politics, Writing, and Work-Life Balance
Today, I have a special interview with Kimberly Ross, a political opinion writer for the Washington Examiner and other publications. Kimberly made headlines herself in 2019 when she and other conservative writers left the political website RedState following a purge of Trump-skeptical writers. I’ve become a fan of her writing and unique takes in recent years, and decided to ask her if she would be interested in doing an interview.
After her initial response of “I’m sorry, who are you?”, and a brutal 20-minute negotiation over her interview fee, she finally agreed. Below is our conversation, and I hope you all enjoy it.
John: Kimberly, thanks again for joining me today. I appreciate you taking some time for BernardGoldberg.com readers.
Kimberly: Thank you for reaching out! I’m delighted to share.
John: You’re someone who describes herself as “politically homeless,” which — as I can attest — isn’t a joyous place to be. Yet, you seem to have a little fun with the partisan hacks on Twitter who reflexively accuse you of holding an ideology and positions you don’t have, or voting for someone that you didn’t, just because they don’t like it when you criticize someone on their “side.”
Some recent examples:
Are you surprised by how prevalent binary politics have become, and have you seen any indication that they’ll subside anytime soon? By the way, depending on your answer here, I’m prepared to call you either a socialist libtard or a MAGA-moron.
Kimberly: Then it will feel like a normal day on Twitter! Far too often, that’s what social media is like. If you say something even slightly critical of a politician, their fans come out and accuse you of undying allegiance for their opponent. It’s certainly exhausting. I also don’t think it’s going to subside anytime soon.
Isn’t it crazy to think back to 2012 when it was Romney vs Obama and how things seemed tense, then? We had no idea what we were in for in 2015, 2016, and beyond. It is unbelievably divisive right now. I’m not surprised everything has become so binary given how personal politics have become. It’s far beyond policy wrangling by a bunch of suits in D.C. National politics have seeped into how we raise and educate children, religion, the kind of news we consume, whether we think someone should be “canceled” or not, sports, music, movies, etc. We’re almost drowning in it. And it’s cutthroat. There is seemingly no room for the “agree to disagree” approach.
As a country, we can’t separate politics from any other aspect of life. It’s evolved into us vs them in a way I’ve not seen. I didn’t vote for Trump (big shock there), but I understand why even casual Republicans thought they needed an unconventional personality to fight for their many causes as they saw “wokeness” rising within the culture. I know many who felt that way. Unfortunately, his brashness was connected to ineptitude, dismissal of norms, and finally, the applauding of criminal behavior.
Now that the boundaries have been breached, there’s no going back. At least, not in the near future. Republicans love Trump as much as Democrats hate him. He continues to fuel the political fires, for and against. With such distinct, passionate angles, this binary will continue. Whichever side you’re on, the other side will say you hate our country and want to restrict our freedoms. And if you strive to criticize both in an honest fashion, you get double the hate.
I’m no martyr or anything, but I can attest to the fact that my perspective - broad discontent with both sides - is deeply unpopular. Then again, I don’t know how else to go about it. I no longer feel at home in the GOP and as an actual conservative, the left is not for me, either. Picking up the baton solely to feel like I belong to an organized party is something I will not do.
John: You share anecdotes about your family life on social media, often having to do with you being a work-from-home mother of young children. How difficult is it to focus on your political writing, for publications like the Washington Examiner, when you’re in that position? Or do you feel that dealing firsthand with a lot of whining, mischief, and melt-downs uniquely prepares you to write about today’s politics?
Kimberly: Well, some days toddlers have fewer temper tantrums than the men and women elected to lead our country. I’m only half joking. But seriously, I’ve been passionate about politics since high school (yes, I was that kid), so it’s been part of my life for a while. And as I see what’s going on around me, from all sides, with all issues, I can’t help but share my rather strong thoughts. I enjoy engaging with others and hearing different takes. I like to be part of the conversation and I’ve always been focused on national and international happenings. I even enjoy dialogue with those who disagree with me, so long as it’s not vicious.
John: From a mother’s perspective, which current political topics hit closest to home for you.
Kimberly: I’ve been very committed to the pro-life cause since I was a teenager. That’s near and dear to my heart. Becoming a mother has only strengthened my pro-life position.
At the same time, pregnancy and motherhood have really gifted me with more compassion for women who find themselves pregnant and unsure. We can and should celebrate the uniqueness of each mother and her own worth as we protect the life of their unborn child. I’ve been somewhat remiss in that kind of complete approach over the years. I’m glad for that personal evolution. It should have happened sooner.
Education has become even more important to me as our oldest began kindergarten this past fall. He has a speech delay that requires therapy and specialized attention. Those realities combined with the pandemic have kept me very focused on advocating for him and other children as their voices are drowned out by fearful adults around them. As a female who prizes basic equality and rights (but not 2nd and 3rd wave feminism!) I’m aware of forces that want to infringe upon my womanhood. Namely, the militant transgender movement. Males and females have inherent qualities that are separate but should be celebrated, not maligned. And not co-opted.
Lastly, and this goes without saying, Ukraine is heavy on all our hearts. Watching tragedy and horror unfold because of a murderous tyrant is utterly heartbreaking. How can we help? Most of all, Ukrainians deserve our support. Being vocal about atrocities abroad is a must. America is not the only country that matters.
John: You have a personal policy, I believe, of not logging into social media on the weekends. Has this practice helped you achieve a healthy work-life balance, and do you sometimes worry that by limiting your Twitter time, you’re missing out on killer political insight from the likes of Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens, and those adorable PizzaGate guys?
Kimberly: Thankfully, the idiocy that occurs online when I’m not looking still lingers on. So I never miss it! But really, taking weekend breaks from Twitter has become essential for me. It’s something I never knew I needed. That may sound dramatic, but as someone who must stay plugged into the news in order to opine on it, I was a bit nervous to begin the regular habit of stepping away. I actually delete my Twitter app on the weekends so I won’t look at it.
And guess what? When Monday comes back around, I haven’t really missed anything of consequence. All I’ve missed is the endless drama that infests Twitter, plenty of bad-faith arguments, and probably more than a handful of insults directed my way. Twitter isn’t real life, thankfully. The breaks help to reinforce that fact. And best of all, I get uninterrupted time with my family. I understand the importance of Twitter for access in a fast-paced news world, but I accept that it can too easily become a stressor and distraction away from the things that actually do matter.
John: I think just about everyone agrees that the Democratic party is going to get trounced in this year’s midterms. Once they’re back in power in Washington, what policy items would you like to see Republicans focus on?
Kimberly: Right now, it’s all about the economy. Republicans (and Congress as a whole) need to tackle the problem of inflation. Each of us sees the rising food costs and gas prices. Those affect daily life. They hurt families. The crisis in Ukraine and fallout from Russian oil dependence will only make things worse. We need stronger employment numbers. The pandemic wrecked so many businesses. Americans are hurting where it matters. The border remains a concern, too. Legal immigration should be supported. Our country is made of immigrants. It must be reformed, not trashed.
I also wish the GOP would back off some from the obsession with the culture war. I know it’s a popular topic, but too often, substance is overlooked for what is the immediate concern. And please, I hope certain members of Congress will stop suggesting regulation of social media companies. We don’t need the government to invade every area of life. It’s not good generally, but also, when power changes hands, we won’t like the result.
John: Besides me, who are some of your favorite political writers?
Kimberly: Besides John Daly, I really like David French of The Dispatch and Ross Douthat of The New York Times. French has become quite loathed among the regular GOP crowd, mostly because of his criticism of Trump. I don’t always agree with him, but I find him to be honest and unafraid. And I think fearless writing is very important.
Douthat is also one who doesn’t fit in well with the populist crowd. Like French, he is honest and cerebral. I have also come to enjoy Bari Weiss, formerly of The New York Times. She is another I don’t always agree with but leads with common sense. Another is Caitlin Flanagan who writes for The Atlantic. She isn’t a conservative but her perspective is interesting and can conflict with the left and far left.
Overall, I like to read from a variety of sites and writers. Even if I may disagree with them, it only helps me fine-tune my own thoughts. And reading work from more established writers also helps in my never-ending quest to improve my writing skills.
John: I was disappointed to see that you weren’t a featured speaker at this year’s Conservative Action Political Conference (aka CPAC). Do you think the fact that you’re actually conservative, and don’t say a lot of crazy s*** on Twitter and/or cable news, disqualified you from being considered as a speaker?
Kimberly: Did you see the list of speakers? Papa John, Dr. Oz, Candace Owens, and the like? Farcical. And the CPAC straw poll signaled that they are not done with Trumpism. It’s expected but also disappointing.
They would never ask me to speak at CPAC. I don’t do as I should. You see, criticism - of Trump especially - is unwelcome. Just take a look at what the RNC did to Rep. Liz Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger. They were censured. Meanwhile, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene can attend a white nationalist conference and nothing is done. I am aware that CPAC has always been a bit fringe, but it has turned into a complete joke. Conservatism isn’t at the center of it. It’s all about personality and “owning the Libs” no matter the cost. Decency, improving as a party, and even morality seem to have faded. But to your question, if they asked, I’d be happy to speak! They just wouldn’t like what I’d have to say.
John: It isn’t clear whether or not Donald Trump will run for president again in 2024, but as you wrote in a recent piece, you believe he’s unfit for the office. Who would you like to see run for the Republican presidential nomination, and which non-Trump candidates do you think stand the best chance?
Kimberly: At CPAC, Trump hinted at a third run, but I guess we don’t know for sure just yet. Supposedly, he’s going to announce after the midterms. Personally, I would love to see Senator Mitt Romney be the GOP nominee. He is a good man with the kind of conservative ideals we need. He is a leader. He is a decent human being. He would have made a great president. The party has changed so much since his 2012 that I know he’ll never run for president again. If he did, he would not win the nomination. He is a better man than Trump in every way. That’s why GOP voters would never choose him. They are too drunk on Trump.
Who do I think stands the best chance? Governor Ron DeSantis. I’ve seen many people say they like DeSantis and that it’s time to turn the page from Trump to him. DeSantis is young, has plenty of experience as a Congressman and now a governor. He is firm with the media and his critics without being Trump-like. I don’t always agree with him, and can’t say for sure I’d vote for him, but he seems to be the favorite non-Trump option right now.
John: I’m not sure where you stand on this, but I am of the belief that Joe Biden won’t run for re-election. If that ends up being the case, are there any Democrats you’d like to see run in 2024, to — if anything — give left-leaning voters some competent, not-so-crazy alternatives.
Kimberly: It is also difficult for me to picture President Biden running again. If he won, he would be 82 when he began his second term. As a country, can’t we do better than that?
Of the 2020 presidential candidates on the left, I would say my favorite is Senator Amy Klobuchar. She is not a far leftist. She has a much more moderate bent than many of her colleagues. She is no conservative, mind you, but at least isn’t in the progressive wing of the party like Senators Warren and Sanders. I don’t think she would ever win if she ran again, though. Her personality isn’t conducive to that role. But in other areas, she would shine.
John: Well, I don’t want to take up any more of your time, especially since your interview fee goes up after 10 questions. 😉 Thank you very much for joining me. People can check out your Washington Examiner columns here. Where else can readers find your writing?
Kimberly: Thank you so much for having me! In addition to the Washington Examiner site, you can find a column of mine in their weekly magazine every few weeks or so. I also have a stash of articles at Arc Digital and recently began contributing to ACN Ireland, an organization which shines a light on persecuted Christians around the world. And you can always catch my thoughts on the mess that is Twitter. Just try to be nice.