How Not to Endorse a Presidential Candidate, By Connie Britton
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How Not to Endorse a Presidential Candidate, By Connie Britton

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | October 29, 2012 | Comments ()


If you're a celebrity, and you'd like to show your support for a presidential candidate, take your cues from Joss Whedon: Be funny. Try to do it without being polarizing. Don't alienate half the country, and don't parrot talking points, no matter how correct those talking points may be.

That's a lesson that Connie Britton -- who is amazing, wonderful, magnificent, lovely, and smart -- should've taken before she and Sarah Aubrey, an executive producer on "Friday Night Lights," before writing an op-ed for USA Today lashing out against Mitt Romney for appropriating the show's catchphrase, "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose" for his campaign.

Here it is, in part (see the full letter here):


n fact, it is President Obama who has shown his values to be more closely aligned with those represented by the phrase. The first measure he signed into law after becoming president was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -- so a female high school counselor or physical education teacher can fight for equal pay for equal work. This law makes it possible for women such as the character that I (Britton) played of Tami Taylor -- to fight for the same wages as men no matter what they do or where they live, from Dillon to Philadelphia, where Tami was able to pursue her dream job as a college admissions counselor.

And President Obama's landmark Affordable Care Act has been transformative for women. For the first time in our lives, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition -- our insurers can't charge us more for having breast cancer or being the victim of domestic violence. This law fully covers the cost of our preventive care, our annual check-ups, our birth control. And on Friday Night Lights, quarterback Matt Saracen's grandma would have then been able to get the affordable health care she needed.

Romney actually wants to throw the entire law -- and every benefit -- out, and while he's at it, get rid of Planned Parenthood--the health care provider that nearly three million Americans rely on for their life-saving cancer screenings, well-woman visits and affordable birth control. Planned Parenthood was well represented on the show, too -- Brian "Smash" Williams' mom worked there, Tami got a pregnancy test there, and, after being abandoned by her parents, Becky Sproles was able to get a safe and legal abortion there.

So as women, let's take "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts" back and use it as it was always intended -- as a motivator for progress, power, and greatness. Let's use our clear eyes and full hearts to vote early. Let's use our clear eyes and full hearts to tell every friend, family member and neighbor about what's at stake for women in this election. What's at stake for all of us.

If we women make ourselves aware of the issues and make our voices heard, we most certainly cannot lose.

I agree! In fact, there is nothing I disagree with in that statement, and I also find it troubling that Mitt Romney would co-opt a phrase even after the guy that coined the phrase, Peter Berg, asked him not to (in fact, Romney doubled down; he now sells "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts" bracelets). But in trying to view the statement from the perspective of someone who might not support Obama for legitimate reasons, it makes me bristle. I think it's mostly because, instead of simply supporting Obama, she's taking a stand against Romney.

Remember when virtually the entire cast of "West Wing" reunited to show their support for a Michigan Supreme Court candidate? That was perfect: It was funny and positive. I think if you're a celebrity wading into the political arena, it's best to be one or the other, and preferably both. Slam pieces lower celebrities into the muck, and celebrities as great as Britton oughtn't dirty their hands.

Granted, I still love Britton -- and I think that I love her even more after this op-ed -- but I'm part of the choir she's preaching to. I simply think she went about this wrong: She could've scored more points, and alienated fewer people, by staying positive, by showing why Obama is the "Clear Eyes Full Heart" candidate and leaving the discussion of why he is not to the politicians.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • duckandcover

    How many things is Romney going to jack before he just stops? There have been articles about how he stole a song without first asking the artist and now this. It's like he's building the worst website in the universe, taking everything from Google Search without ever clicking a link, and then maybe claiming he didn't know where it came from when confronted.

    Also, did his teenager daughter help write that campaign slogan? Who seriously steals from FNL and expects to be taken seriously?

  • Semilitterate

    All you pinko retards are in for a real ol' fashionedcountrywide ass whuppin' come next Tuesday

  • googergieger

    Still waiting on that sandwhich.

    (yes I talk to the television and expect it to follow my orders)

  • $27019454

    Her use of examples using phony characters from a TV show renders her argument(s) plain ol silly. Do these folks know that it ain't real life? Did you ever hear Oscar Wilde using examples from his plays to make a point? No. Because he was smart and could use real life. Mark Twain? Nope. Dickens? No again. It's embarrassing that she uses her character as an example of a very real issue. Big cringe.

  • missbisque

    Whereas a politician highjacking a catchphrase from a TV show is...?

  • $27019454


  • John G.

    We simply can't keep pretending that it's all balanced, that both sides are ALWAYS equal. She's not wrong. One side of this election actually is in support of a medieval approach to women's health. One of the candidates running for president isn't just representing different views, he's flat out fucking lying all the time. Reasonable people can disagree on policy, but this is not two competing policies running against each other. One of these guys is just making shit up to suit his needs in the moment. That is not something we can just ignore. My state has early mail-in voting, and I didn't vote for Obama. I voted AGAINST Mitt Romney, so Connie Britton is exactly right.

  • Pookie

    Rowles, stop being so goddamn wishy-washy and stand up for something for once in your life. Stop being so goddamn nuanced and prissy. Britton is blunt so you know where she stands, there’s no hemming and hawing with this broad, unlike some people I know. Everyone wants to pretend that if Romney becomes President he won’t ass fuck the middle class and the poor like that guy with the stainless steel knife-cock did in the movie “Seven.” So Rowles you can pretend that Britton did something uncouth all you want to, but now is not the time to play nice with these vile motherfuckers.

  • Sirilicious

    Dustin is nuanced?

  • LaineyBobainey

    Well, shit, I can't even believe you're making me agree with POOKIE on women's issues. Dammit, Dustin.

  • Vince

    See, now this was what I was trying to say with my comment earlier.

  • Blake

    Shouldn't it be: "How Not to Endorse a Presidential Candidate, by Meatloaf"?

    I wonder what would Project Mayhem think about that shit...

  • Puddin

    I can never understand why entertainers use the privilege of their fame to endorse political candidates. Not for any more reasons, but purely from an economic standpoint. You run the risk of polarizing literally half of your audience. I always thought Michael Jordan put it best when he declined campaigning for Clinton--"Republicans buy shoes too."

  • Horvath

    Also, do you really think that famous movie stars are going to go bankrupt because of their political views? Do you think anyone is going to shocked (SHOCKED) that an actor leans to the left?

  • Horvath

    Really? Because if I had the means and the wherewithal to make my voice heard when the stakes were this high, I'd be screaming from every fucking rooftop I could find.

  • pissant

    Perhaps people who do these things believe in something more than just their wallets? It's a crazy idea, I know...

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    I think that if you make something you love you don't want it co-opted by politics you oppose -- and it makes sense that this is where Britton is coming from. Considering that she has a new show out, I actually think it's courageous that she is taking such a risk and is indicative of how strongly she feels on the subject.

  • Wednesday

    This was written like a particularly juvenile essay from a high school student. They are famous (mostly) for "Friday Night Lights" they have to throw in examples from a TV show to demonstrate their reasoning? We have enough *real* examples without having to resort to "this made-up person's made-up problems would be worse under Romney."

    They're entitled to support candidates however they wish, but this way isn't a terribly effective one. And I say that as someone who basically agrees with them.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    She used the characters from the TV show since Romney preempted a famous saying from that same TV show. Made sense to me.

  • ,

    This is a good time to insert the heresy that while presidential elections make for polarizing and occasionally entertaining debate, it's far more likely that elections for city council, county commission, school board, assessor (you should have seen the furor here about a reappraisal) and the like will have every bit as much or more of an impact on most of our day-to-day lives than the choice of a president will.

    I grant that this election is probably an exception because of the health care argument and its huge significance for millions of people. But for the most part, the president isn't the one making decisions for you about your schools, zoning or getting that road in front of your house paved. If you're turned off by the presidential blather, you don't have to vote for a president. But your ballot will be full of other candidates whose merits your should consider, and who might finally get that goddam pothole filled before you blow another tire.

  • Ghisent

    But for the most part, the president isn't the one making decisions for you about your schools, zoning or getting that road in front of your house paved.

    No, but he will be making decisions about your right to marry, your right to contraceptives, your right to an abortion, your right to equal marital partnership and survivor benefits, and a whole host of other issues. People are forever losing sight of the fact that there's a HELL of a lot more at stake here beyond the economy and healthcare, things that 100% will affect your day-to-day life if you fall within certain demographics.

    I'm not saying your state and local elections aren't critically important - they absolutely are. But it's pretty damn disingenuous to act so blase about the presidential election. There's a hell of a lot riding on it. Maybe just not for you. But for some of us, it's got some vitally important ramifications, and that's something people shouldn't lose sight of.

  • ,

    You are correct, but far more than usually so with this election. Most presidential elections really don't make much difference, especially when the losing party stands to be the winning party next time around (pendulum swing) and does its damndest simply to return things to the way they were. It's rare that the president and Congress are in such alignment that they do what they want and allow the chief exec carte blanche to set the agenda, and so much of the panic the electorate feels about an Obama type or a Romney type winning office dissipates when the usual stalemate ensues.

    Look, I've been through a dozen of these. It was the end of the world when (pick one or all of the above) Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama got elected, to hear the other side tell it, and somehow the republic has survived.

  • Jannymac

    I can't believe you were downvoted for is absolutely spot on. If all of us applied the same microscope to our local government as to the Federal, our cities wouldn't be bankrupt, county services cut or heck...even had the the banking crisis. (There's evidence in the Report on the Financial Crisis issued last year that states tried to stop a lot of the loan shenanigans by private institutions, but were stymied by banks that claimed to be "national" so the rules didn't apply.)

  • Mr_Zito

    I completely disagree with you. Not everyone knows how to be funny or stylish while making a political statement, and that shouldn't keep them from doing it.

  • DominaNefret

    What I think is the funniest thing about reading this piece is the fact that there is a Romney banner ad at the top of the page.
    "Mitt Romney's Plan: Putting Jobs First. Paid For By Romney Victory, Inc."
    "Five Reasons we can't afford four more years: (Five things I can't read because they are white text over incredibly busy backgrounds.)"
    That man certainly loves his numbered lists.

    Of course, I live in Virginia, so there is a Romney banner ad at the top of every Pajiba article. And maybe every article on every webpage I go too. And sponsored Romney ads in the middle of my Facebook feed, and constantly popping up on the side, even though every time they do I say "never show me again, pornographic". (Grumble grumble not being able to block ads on my iPad.)

  • Bodhi

    Same here in Oklahoma.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I see your point, but I disagree. She was taking a stand AGAINST Romney because she found him hypocritical in using a particular phrase. It isn't logical to simply endorse Obama on that front.

    Not, of course, that logic gets one anywhere. But she's not a political consultant - she's just someone speaking her mind.

  • Vince

    I can't be the only one here who wishes Rowles would stop writing about politics. Dustin, you embody every limp-wristed, spineless, wet blanket stereotype that conservatives make about us. And, if I remember correctly, you've stated in the past that you don't think voting is important.

  • Maguita NYC

    For every intelligent, well-rounded conversation affecting the making of movies and quality television series (and Pajiba is touted for its reviews of said movies and TV series), politics and debates surrounding Freedom of Speech are a NECESSITY.

    Even more so during a highly polarizing election season, that is about to affect a high percentage of us who were not born white-Christian-straight men.

  • Vince

    I'm not sure why you're directing this comment at me. My problem isn't the discussion in and of itself, my problem is that instead of talking about the substance of her article he is instead complaining about the tone. And it seems that Dustin feels it's beyond the pale to talk about the stated positions of the Romney campaign and the Republican party at large. If I didn't hate the term with every fiber of my being I would have just called him a "concern troll".

  • Maguita NYC

    On first read, I took your meaning as requesting that Dustin halts posting anything that has to do with politics. That Pajiba has no business in the commenting on politics.

    But following your comment, I get what you were trying to say. Not sure I agree, but I understand what you were trying to convey.

  • pajiba

    It's true! Voting is not important, if you're voting for Romney. (And man alive, no one dislikes those Romney ads more than me. I don't know in what states they are running, but they're drive me batty).

  • Ghisent

    I can't be the only one who wishes people would stop complaining about it. JUST DON'T CLICK THE GOD DAMN LINK.

    Also, I would be absolutely STUNNED if Dustin actually sad that. I'm fairly certain that's horse puckey.

  • Vince

    I think you're right about your second point; the more I think about it the more I believe it was a different front pager (perhaps Daniel Carlson?).

  • Forbiddendonut

    Eight more days... Only need to survive eight. More. Days.

  • Blake

    Before Romney takes the election and becomes your 45th president?

  • Blake

    Being this is a "liberal pinko" bastion I'll take the down votes with a grain of salt. I hope I am wrong but I just don't think Obama is going to be able to pull out a win. I can't wait for Paul Ryan 2020!

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