Bernie and the Jerks

One of the more bizarre controversies of the 2012 presidential campaign was the social media reaction to the news that Melissa Joan Hart, the actress best known for starring in the late-1990s/early-2000s ABC show Sabrina the Teenage Witch, had endorsed Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Hart was roundly condemned for the endorsement by disappointed fans; she later suggested that the backlash represented public intolerance for celebrities who hold right-of-center views.

As much as I loathed Romney, I couldn’t understand why the backlash against Hart, of all people, had been so intense. I had remembered an interview she did around the time her feature film debut Drive Me Crazy was released, in which it was noted that Hart and her family were Catholic–and it was implied that they weren’t exactly progressive Catholics. I figured Hart was against Roe v. Wade, and was voting for Romney on those grounds; I didn’t get the sense that she was backing Romney because she thought President Obama was a secret Muslim Commie. I didn’t quite understand how beating up Hart on social media would get her to change her mind.

It’s no surprise that the wingnuts who admired Hart for endorsing Romney in 2012 turned against her in 2014 when she indicated support for reforming American gun laws. (I can’t help wondering if Hart decided to star in the upcoming film God’s Not Dead 2: Electric Boogaloo in an attempt to get back into the good graces of her former supporters.) Last May, it was reported that Hart was still undecided as to which Republican she would vote for in 2016. If Hart winds up supporting Donald Trump–either because she truly embraces Trump’s message, or as an attempt to woo back some of the folks she lost when she started speaking about reforming gun laws–she will likely face renewed criticism from her non-wingnut fans, and this time, as Jeremy Nix suggests, she and others like her will absolutely deserve public scorn:

I’m cool with you removing me from your friends list if you don’t like this post. You can even disown me if you like. But Donald Trump isn’t a good person, nor would he be a good president. I can understand a difference in politics. I can understand if you don’t like a government run by Democrats. I can understand if you don’t like certain ideologies, like Socialism. But I can’t understand why you would support someone as hateful, sexist, racist and ignorant as Donald Trump.

How do you support him so blindly? Ask yourself, are you a racist, sexist, hateful and ignorant person as well? I hear his supporters saying they like him because he tells the truth, because he’s so rich he can say whatever he feels like with no apologies. Just because Trump is saying these things doesn’t suddenly make them right. It’s not okay to discriminate against an entire religion based on a small percentage of its followers who have become terrorists by twisting the words of their religion to fit their crazy ideals. It’s not okay to marginalize an entire race of people, saying things like all the Mexicans are lazy, and they are all stealing our jobs and bringing drugs into our country.

White people also have bad apples. So does every race of people. We’re all human. Some humans are really bad people. Some are really good. And it doesn’t matter what color they are, it makes no difference whatsoever. Trump says he is just telling the truth. But whose truth? There are lazy people in every race and there are dangerous violent people in every race and every religion. Kicking all Muslims out of the country is not the answer, nor is it the acceptable behavior of a person in an extremely powerful position, like the President of the United States…

The kind of leadership Trump is displaying is irresponsible and dangerous. His virulent ideas are seeping into the brains of his supporters. Supporters who think it’s okay to say things like “light the mother@!$%#er on fire” while a protester is being dragged out of one of his rallies. Maybe the protester was wrong to be where he was at the time, but no matter what he did, there was no reason to set him on fire. In fact, there is NEVER a reason to set anyone on fire. Unless it’s because they are dead and they wish to be cremated.

Nix’s argument is why I find the contention that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders might be able to woo Trump’s supporters patently absurd. Let’s be blunt: the average Trump supporter shares (or at the very least tolerates) the Republican frontrunner’s reactionary views on gender and race, his loathing of outsiders, his malevolence towards Mexicans and Muslims. Does anyone in his or her right mind think these right-wing revanchists would ever vote for a self-professed democratic socialist? These voters view “democratic socialism” as a euphemism for “handouts to people in the ghetto.” It’s not happening.

To rework the famous line from Matthew 19:24, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a Trump fan to consider voting for someone who believes that government should benefit everybody, not just rich white Christian guys. Anyone who thinks otherwise must be under one of the spells Hart’s character cast on her show.

UPDATE: More from MSNBC and Media Matters.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.