"Washington Post" columnist and author George Will joined MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle Wednesday morning to discuss how the Republican Party has turned into a "cult" of Trumpism with "an absence of ideas," while the Democratic Party has put forth a field of two dozen "weird" "doofuses" to challenge him.
"If [Democrats] think that the path to power is to emulate Trump from the left by saying strange things, I think they are mistaken," Will said. "Because people will go to the voting booth... in November 2020 and say, 'Do I stick with the doofus I've got or pick the doofus I don't know?' I mean, give people a decent choice!"
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC: George Will, who has been defining what it means to be a conservative since the 1970s, writes about this identity struggle in his new book "The Conservative Sensibility."
George, is there a struggle? The conservative party has become the party of Trump.
GEORGE WILL: It has become a cult. It has become a cult because of an absence of ideas. Because they have jettisoned the ideas for years, decades, all the 20th century almost. Conservatives said we're for free trade. Trump said, by the way, you're not anymore. And they said, okay, we're not for free trade anymore. Or they pretend to be.
What I've done with this book is try to say conservatism has an enormously long and distinguished pedigree of ideas. It has a momentum into the future given by these ideas. And they did not go away and they have into the been refuted by the 45th president.
STEPHANIE RUHLE: Are you seeing any possible candidates that you think would be better for conservatism than President Trump?
GEORGE WILL: Well, there is a sense in which all 23 Democrats would be better if there is a Republican Senate because the Republican Senate would virtually block legislative change. That is not all the change we'd have, but they would block it. And it would take the Republican party away from its current identification with someone who is in temperament and in most policies not conservative. I hate to give the kiss of death to someone like former Congressman Delaney or former Governor Hickenlooper, but they know where the public's pulse is.
I'm staggered by the amount of time Democratic candidates for president are spending talking about things they know are not going to happen. "Abolish the electoral college," they promise. No, the reason they want to abolish the electoral college is it is very good for smaller states, 13 of which are all that is required to block the constitutional amendment. Kamala Harris says that we will eliminate private health insurance. She's walked that back a bit, but who knows. No, they are not. It is a very odd way to begin a presidential campaign by saying that we will offend 180 million Americans who have employer-provided healthcare and 20 million Americans who have other sources of private health insurance and rather like it.
STEPHANIE RUHLE: You could like John Delaney any or John Hickenlooper, but if the ultimate goal for the democratic party is to defeat Donald Trump, what is the right move, to shift to the middle or shift to the left?
GEORGE WILL: Shift to the middle. I keep in my pocket -- I'm going to need a bigger card. These are all the things that they have said that cause the American public to say these people are weird, they are not talking about things that I care about.
-- Terrorists in prison should be allowed to vote.
-- End private health insurance.
-- Pack the supreme court.
-- Abolish the electoral college.
-- Green New Deal, which will include getting rid of meat and airplanes.
-- Impeach the president.
-- Reparations for slavery.
The country hears these individually and they say I'm not for that. Collectively they say these are very strange people because they are not talking about things--
STEPHANIE RUHLE: But George, you have the very strange things they have said on a tiny little card. The president has told, by the "Washington Post" count, 10,000 lies. And I don't think that I'm getting over my skis to say he says very strange things every single day. And he is sitting in the White House. Why does very strange things disqualify someone?
GEORGE WILL: Well, if they think that the path to power is to emulate Trump from the left saying strange things, I think they are mistaken because people will go to the voting booth on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November 2020 and say, "Do I stick with the doofus I've got or pick the doofus I don't know?"
I mean, give people a decent choice. Look, what the Democrats did, an astonishing achievement in 2016, was help elect Donald Trump by giving the country an unpalatable choice. Why do it again?
STEPHANIE RUHLE: "Don't be a doofus, please skip on strange." That's George Will's advice to these candidates.