Election 2016

Roseanne Barr, Socialist for Trump

Why a leftist sitcom star prefers Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton

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CNN

It has been four years since Roseanne "Bob" Barr, star of the old sitcom Roseanne, ran for president as the nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party. Her running mate was Cindy Sheehan, and they got 67,477 votes. Now there's a documentary about the campaign, called Roseanne For President!, and so The Hollywood Reporter has interviewed the actress about her political opinions.

My concern for what '90s comedians have to say about the world is rather limited, but I found the feature pretty interesting, if only because it shows a onetime symbol of Hollywood liberalism talking politics in a way that's pretty far from the #ImWithHer messaging that's going to gush out of the industry for the next five months. The Q&A covers a lot of ground, from feminism ("You wonder if you should even use the F word anymore") to Mormonism ("The Mormons are just wonderful people and they're very socialist").* But the big topic is the current election, where Barr doesn't make an endorsement—she says "both Trump and Bernie are playing the heel for Hillary"—but she makes her preferences pretty clear.

You probably won't be surprised to hear that she likes Sanders better than Clinton. Bernie and Barr both describe themselves as socialists, and they agree on a lot of issues, though Barr thinks Sanders is too much of a hawk and she doesn't like to see him galavanting around with the pope. What might surprise Barr's fans is her preference in the general election. "I think we would be so lucky if Trump won," she says. "Because then it wouldn't be Hillary."

Q: What's your take on Hillary? What do you think is wrong with her?

A: You don't know?! Well, she hangs out with [President] Bush. Do you need more than that? She's friends with everybody that gives her any goddamned money. The fact is, you don't get to be the nominee without taking a lot of dirty money. You might be the best f—in' person on earth, but if you're hanging out with criminals who do bad things, that matters a lot. That's why I ran, because no, I don't hang out with criminals and I don't take their money and I'm not paid to help sell nuclear weapons. I like Trump because he financed his own [campaign]. That's the only way he could've gotten that nomination. Because nobody wants a president who isn't from Yale and Harvard and in the club. 'Cause it's all about distribution. When you're in the club, you've got people that you sell to. That's how money changes hands, that's how business works. If you've got friends there, they scratch your back and blah, blah….But Americans don't even know that much, even though they say they do. They say they believe that people should take money out of politics and then, you know, they send their paycheck to Bernie and off he goes to hang out with the pope on a private jet on that money. The f—in' Pope, are you shittin' me?! And nobody just gives you money, they're not like, "Here's three million, you look good, your hair is nice." No. It's like, "Hey, I'm giving you this money so you can pimp my products when it comes time."…

Q: Will Trump act in people's interest?

A: To me, he's saying that the order of law matters. When a president can just pass laws all on his own, that is a little bit different than what America was supposed to be about. And Trump is saying people will have to be vetted, we'll have to have legal immigration. It's all a scam. I mean, illegal immigration. When people come here and they get a lot of benefits that our own veterans don't get. What's up with that?

That's not the position on immigration that I would have expected Barr to take, but celebrity politics is full of surprises. There's no reason Roseanne Conner can't have a little Archie Bunker in her.

At any rate, it's not clear from this whether she plans to vote for Trump, to vote for a third-party candidate, or just to stay home. (She does say that voting "doesn't matter at all. And if it did, they wouldn't let you do it.") But it's pretty clear which of the big two she'll be rooting for.

(* Barr's comment about Mormon socialism does have some historical grounding, though I doubt many contemporary Mormons would embrace the s-word. There is a tradition of anti-state socialism that favors cooperatives, communes, and other independent institutions rather than government control. And 19th-century Utah was overflowing with Mormon co-ops, to the point where one anarchist of the era—Dyer Lum—declared happily that the cooperative system in Deseret existed "on a grander scale than anywhere else in the world.")