Smashing Interviews Magazine

Compelling People — Interesting Lives



January 2022



Norman Lear: Trump Is America's Defiant Middle Finger

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Image attributed to PBS

Norman Lear

Legendary television writer/producer Norman Lear is known for producing such 1970s sitcoms as All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. As a political activist, he founded People for the American Way in 1981 and has supported First Amendment rights and progressive causes.

As the creator of iconic conservative character Archie Bunker, Lear holds a unique perspective on American life. During a 2016 interview with Smashing Interviews Magazine, Lear described America's embrace of Donald Trump as a defiant stand against corporate control.

"I think of Donald Trump as the middle finger of the American right hand. The American people are saying, 'This is the kind of leadership! Take this!' They give us the finger, and that finger is Donald Trump, another way of saying that I don’t think they believe in him, but it is a way of saying, 'Screw you.' They have every reason to be fed up when you’re reading about Wells Fargo or that company that made the air bags in cars or that big pharmaceutical scandal with the EpiPen. The news is just full of larger entities taking advantage," Lear explained.

"How much more can you read about the 1% that owns 80% of the American wealth? Those figures aren’t necessarily correct, but you know what I mean. This is a country whose form of government depends on an informed citizenry. You can’t have an informed citizenry, sufficiently informed, unless they’re led by some dignity and understanding. I’m not necessarily talking about the presidency. I’m talking about all kinds of leadership in every facet of American life."

The All in the Family creator sees Trump as the exclamation point of American frustration.

"I think in Donald Trump, we have a good example of how far we can go to mediocrity. If these people are into Donald Trump, it’s not because they’re into Donald Trump above Hillary Clinton. They’re into Donald Trump as a way of making a bigger statement than that. The bigger statement is saying, 'Help! Give us some leadership. Give us the information we need to be an informed citizenry. Don’t give us media where talking heads are sitting around yelling at each other and giving us bumper sticker philosophy. Help us!'" Lear expounded.

"I see myself as a bleeding heart conservative. You will not mess with my First Amendment, my Bill of Rights, my guarantees of equal opportunities. That’s the ultimate conservative expression. We all have equal opportunity under the laws of this land, and I will do anything to protect everyone’s equal opportunity. That is a conservative position, but you can’t have it unless your heart bleeds for the unfairness and the unequal opportunity that exists."

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