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Opinion | Norman Lear: What Archie Bunker Would Have Thought of Donald Trump and Jan. 6

Nicely, I made it. I’m 100 years previous at the moment. I get up each morning grateful to be alive.

Reaching my very own private centennial is trigger for a little bit of reflection on my first century — and on what the subsequent century will convey for the individuals and nation I really like. To be trustworthy, I’m a bit anxious that I could also be in higher form than our democracy is.

I used to be deeply troubled by the assault on Congress on Jan. 6, 2021 — by supporters of former President Donald Trump trying to forestall the peaceable switch of energy. These considerations have solely grown with every revelation about simply how far Mr. Trump was prepared to go to remain in workplace after being rejected by voters — and about his ongoing efforts to put in loyalists in positions with the ability to sway future elections.

I don’t take the specter of authoritarianism frivolously. As a younger man, I dropped out of school when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and joined the U.S. Military Air Forces. I flew greater than 50 missions in a B-17 bomber to defeat fascism consuming Europe. I’m a flag-waving believer in reality, justice and the American approach, and I don’t perceive how so many individuals who name themselves patriots can assist efforts to undermine our democracy and our Structure. It’s alarming.

On the similar time, I’ve been moved by the braveness of the handful of conservative Republican lawmakers, legal professionals and former White Home staffers who resisted Mr. Trump’s bullying. They provide me hope that Individuals can discover sudden widespread floor with family and friends whose politics differ however who should not prepared to sacrifice core democratic ideas.

Encouraging that type of dialog was a objective of mine once we started broadcasting “All within the Household” in 1971. The sorts of subjects Archie Bunker and his household argued about — points that had been dividing Individuals from each other, corresponding to racism, feminism, homosexuality, the Vietnam Struggle and Watergate — had been actually being talked about in properties and households. They simply weren’t being acknowledged on tv.

For all his faults, Archie liked his nation and he liked his household, even once they known as him out on his ignorance and bigotries. If Archie had been round 50 years later, he most likely would have watched Fox Information. He most likely would have been a Trump voter. However I believe that the sight of the American flag getting used to assault Capitol Police would have sickened him. I hope that the resolve proven by Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and their dedication to exposing the reality, would have received his respect.

It’s exceptional to contemplate that tv — the medium for which I’m most well-known — didn’t even exist after I was born, in 1922. The web got here alongside many years later, after which social media. We’ve got seen that every of those applied sciences might be put to harmful use — spreading lies, sowing hatred and creating the situations for authoritarianism to take root. However that’s not the entire story. Revolutionary applied sciences create new methods for us to precise ourselves, and, I hope, will permit humanity to be taught extra about itself and higher perceive each other’s concepts, failures and achievements. These applied sciences have additionally been used to create connection, neighborhood and platforms for the type of ideological sparring which may have drawn Archie to a keyboard. I can solely think about the inventive and constructive prospects that technological innovation would possibly provide us in fixing a few of our most intractable issues.

I usually really feel disheartened by the course that our politics, courts and tradition are taking. However I don’t lose religion in our nation or its future. I remind myself how far now we have come. I consider the brilliantly inventive individuals I’ve had the pleasure to work with in leisure and politics, and at Folks for the American Method, a progressive group I co-founded to defend our freedoms and construct a rustic during which all individuals profit from the blessings of liberty. These encounters renew my perception that Individuals will discover methods to construct solidarity on behalf of our values, our nation and our fragile planet.

These closest to me know that I attempt to keep forward-focused. Two of my favourite phrases are “over” and “subsequent.” It’s an perspective that has served me effectively by a protracted lifetime of ups and downs, together with a deeply felt appreciation for the absurdity of the human situation.

Reaching this birthday with my well being and wits largely intact is a privilege. Approaching it with loving household, pals and inventive collaborators to share my days has crammed me with a gratitude I can hardly categorical.

That is our century, expensive reader, yours and mine. Allow us to encourage each other with visions of a shared future. And allow us to convey all of the grit and openheartedness and inventive spirit we will muster to collect collectively and construct that future.

Norman Lear produced “All within the Household,” “Maude,” “The Jeffersons” and “Good Occasions,” amongst different groundbreaking tv reveals. He’s a member of the Tv Academy Corridor of Fame and a recipient of the Nationwide Medal of Arts and Kennedy Middle Honors. An activist and philanthropist, he co-founded and serves on the board of the advocacy group Folks for the American Method.

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