Meghan McCain’s conservative political awakening happened on the campaign trail with her father, Sen. John McCain, in 2008 — she’s been a political commentator and writer ever since. The 28-year-old author of two books is a socially liberal, fiscally conservative Republican is known for bucking the party line on issues like marriage equality and abortion, but McCain (pictured above with her brother) has set politics mostly aside for her documentary-style talk show: Raising McCain — which launches Sept. 14 on Pivot — attempts to discuss often political issues (digital privacy, feminism) in a party-neutral setting. McCain talked to BuzzFeed about being a young Republican, why she’s frustrated with politics, and having liberal friends.
1. Meghan McCain wants to change the world.
“As corny as this sounds, I would really like to try and make a positive difference in this world,” she said, talking about how the 2012 election changed her.
“I was working at MSNBC in the last election cycle as a commentator/contributor, and I just am not interested in spending my life emphasizing the differences in America and emphasizing things that tear us apart,” McCain said. “I’m more interested in bringing this country together and finding bipartisanship and finding why we’re all there and how we can have respectful disagreements. I just felt like that wasn’t happening in the election cycle and I wasn’t contributing anything positive. I didn’t want to spend my life defending the sins of people that I don’t agree with, meaning the man that said that women could shut down their bodies when they’re raped, that crazy fanatic, whatever his name is.”
(His name is Todd Akin — the former Congressman was running for a Senate seat when he said that in the event of “legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”)
“I just don’t want to spend my days having to defend crazy people,” McCain said.
2. Every once in a very great while, you really need to publicly shout that you voted for Mitt Romney.
McCain said politics rarely causes friction in her personal life, but the night after Mitt Romney lost the presidential election, McCain had dinner with some friends who are “verrrrry liberal,” she said. “They’re like, ‘We’re so happy Obama won,” and whatever, and I totally snapped at the table, which I rarely do in my life. I freaked out, and I was like, “You don’t know what I’ve just done! I was crying on election night! I had to go on Anderson Cooper and guest-host and try and talk about why young people should be Republicans, and we just keep failing!” I totally freaked out, and I was like, ‘I’m paying attention! Tell me why you voted for Obama? What do you believe in?’
“We got into a big fight at this restaurant that my friend works at, and it was so embarrassing, and I apologized later. I was like, ‘I’m just emotionally raw right now. I apologize.’ That’s the one time I can remember. We laugh about it now. I had a little, like, outburst. I had an outburst, day after the election. A lot of people were staring at me. I was like, ‘I voted for Mitt Romney!’ really loud in this restaurant in the East Village. You can imagine the looks I was getting.”
3. Being a young Republican can be dispiriting — especially when you’re liberal on social issues.
“I’ve been saying for years and years the things I think Republicans can do differently, but not one person listened and not one thing changed, and the last election was kind of embarrassing,” McCain said. “I remember going to the convention and watching the Clint Eastwood chair speech, and looking around and seeing that it was a predominantly older, predominantly white group of people in that room, and then you turn on the TV and you see the Democratic convention and it looks like a freaking Benetton ad.”
“I just came to terms with the fact that Republicans can listen to people like me, and I do believe what I’m saying is right. Or they can not,” McCain said. “And if they don’t listen to younger people who live in the real world, we are going to lose elections and we will continue losing elections and this party is going to die. I stupidly thought that we would stop emphasizing social issues and start emphasizing fiscal conservatism and national defense and small government in a much different way.”
4. Even though she doesn’t let politics get in the way of her relationships, sometimes she needs to hang out with another Republican.
“One of my closest girlfriends, she’s an actress, Barret Swatek, she’s on a show called Awkward, and we literally met just because we were both Republicans in New York City,” McCain said. “It actually is nice to have a girlfriend in the city that gets it, that doesn’t think it’s weird that I supported Mitt Romney, or that I believe what I believe.”
Like, sometimes it’s really nice to have a friend who understands.
McCain and Margaret Hoover have “been friends; she’s awesome, she’s such a cool chick, she’s on my new show. She supports gay marriage, she’s a more socially liberal Republican, and she’s such an amazing spokesperson.”
The two initially bonded over their similar politics.
5. McCain is kind of done with politics (for now). Also, to the haters: She is a real Republican,
“I’m just much more interested in having honest, interesting, respectful discussions with people my age,” McCain said. “Young people don’t need me to be in a box. They’re like, ‘Okay, so you are a Republican who’s fiscally conservative and strong on national defense and believes in small government, sort of an old-school Republican, and you support marriage equality, and you don’t think abortion should be illegal.’ Young people accept that and are fine with that. Older people tell me I’m not a real Republican, I’m a bad Republican, I should go to hell because I ‘don’t understand my political beliefs.’ I assure you, my political beliefs are more than well thought out; I’ve written two books on it.”
6. She wants to have more fun.
McCain said she wanted to do the show in part because it was a little less serious than her work at MSNBC. “I was like, ‘I just don’t want my life to look like this. I don’t want to help divide people. And I don’t want to wear fucking Spanx and high heels every day.’
“I put a pink streak in my hair yesterday: I love it.”