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How Not to Endorse a Presidential Candidate, By Connie Britton

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | October 29, 2012 |

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | October 29, 2012 |

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.