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America needs Roseanne more than ever. Not because the lead actor and titular character is a Trump supporter. Not because she is a socially liberal LGBTQ rights pioneer. America needs Roseanne back on the air because she is unabashedly both. The show provides an opportunity for both liberals and conservatives to climb out of their respective bubbles and begin a much-needed reconciliation.
Most of the press about Roseanne Barr and Roseanne Conner has related to their support of President Trump. In today’s entertainment world, anyone who goes against the political grain apparently deserves skepticism and derision. However, the more important conversation regarding the show is about the spirit of diversity, acceptance and civility among its cast of characters.
Roseanne’s friends on the show include a gay man and a bisexual woman. In the ‘90s, it was among the first programs to depict a gay wedding and a girl-on-girl kiss, both scenes generating major controversy at the time. The reboot features a gender-nonconforming child whose identity exploration Roseanne and her family support wholeheartedly.
Liberals and conservatives today don’t talk to each other enough, choosing to blindly malign individuals based on affiliation rather than directly converse about ideas. Many on the left refuse to believe that anyone supporting the president could be a complex, multilayered person. They think Trump supporters are just uneducated and angry.
Many on the right would rather ignore conversations about sexuality and gender identity. They want the government to stay out of their business everywhere except the bedroom. Roseanne forces each side to confront the humanity of the other.
A common refrain among Roseanne detractors has been that the show “normalizes” Trump. Like it or not, 63 million voters, 30 states and 2,626 counties (out of 3,141) “normalized” him. Nearly 10 percent of Obama voters crossed over to help “normalize” him. The idea that Trump is an unpopular president facing imminent impeachment is not accurate. According to a recent poll from right-leaning polling firm Rasmussen, his approval rating (51 percent) is higher than Obama’s was at the same point in their respective presidencies.
President Trump was and is seen as a capable change agent. His policies have boosted the economy, stock market, job creation and wage growth. Sure, he could tweet less, but Trump was elected largely because of his direct, unfiltered communication style. To dismiss the motivations of his entire base and characterize Roseanne Conner as a fringe figure is hypocritical and ignorant of serious issues facing American society.
Anybody who refuses to watch the show because of political dogma is missing out on an opportunity to elevate the discourse. On Roseanne, each character is unique. They have different backgrounds, personalities and worldviews. But despite their differences, they engage in healthy dialogue based on a foundation of love and respect. America will never be an ideologically homogenous society, but it’s our ability to find common purpose amid disagreement that makes our country great.
Anthony Scaramucci is a financier and founder of SkyBridge Capital and briefly served as White House communications director.