What Can We Do to Make Things Better?
Highlights from my conversation with Rosie
It’s a question I hear quite often. What can I do to make things better? People are worried about our democracy. Injustice. Systemic racism. Holding the insurrectionists accountable. The millions who are sticking with Trump. The continuing corruption of GOP leaders. Climate change. Gun violence. The threat of domestic terrorism. White supremacy. Police shootings. The list goes on.
It’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk to Rosie O’Donnell. She says what she thinks. She’s long been aware of the danger Trump represented, and spoke out about him when others didn’t. She took her knocks for telling the truth before he became a candidate and after, far more—and more viciously—than anyone should. And yet: She remains motivated to make things better.
What can we do to make things better? Here’s a bit of what Rosie said:
“Use your voice whenever you can. And if you see a police officer, pulling over a black person, stop and stand there. Stop and stand there and wait until the whole thing is finished. Be a witness, use your voice. We can do better, America. We were founded on such lofty, wonderful ideals, and we have to live up to the dream of this nation.
“Getting [Trump] out was like cutting out a fetid tumor…thinking that he wants to come back is like thinking of a malignant cancerous tumor, about to be attached to the soul of the nation again. It can't happen. We can't let that happen. So do everything you can to put ethical people in, in the seats and government, and do the best that you can as a person. You know, some days it's hard, some days it's easier. But use your voice because there is a mirror everywhere you turn.”
Rosie had a lot more to say, of course. You can watch the video recording HERE and read the full transcript of our conversation HERE. But let me share a few highlights.
On what was knowable about Trump long before 2016 and what she said:
“In 2007, on The View, I simply told the truth about him, the truth that, at that time, the major media was not reporting—that he had lost all his money, that his father bailed him out, that his father was a slumlord and a KKK member…I think when I did it, it shocked him because nobody dared talk about the truth of Donald Trump. And I'm not really sure why. I mean, I grew up on Long Island. I remember when his planes were being repossessed from the runways of LaGuardia. I remember his failing steak business. I remember his facade of a university, like scandal after scandal after scandal. He never was anything that Mark Burnett tried to repackage and sell in the late ‘90s. You know, he was a joke. To me, I think, and the vast majority of people my age in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut. We grew up with him and all of his shenanigans. And I never thought of him as anything other than a snake-oil salesman.
On The Apprentice producer Mark Burnett and his role in manipulating the public and putting the country in danger:
“I blame Mark Burnett, more than most people do. I mean, he knew who Donald Trump was when he started in business with him. And he created this monster, and then kind of walked away from it. Nothing that they said on that show was true. And it didn't have to be; it wasn't the news, it was entertainment. But to create a successful billionaire businessman out of a guy who Forbes would never let on the billionaires list. Now that is really despicable. And I question the religiousness of Mark Burnett, and how he claims to be this man of God and Christ and yet he unleashed Satan upon the nation.
On how she felt when Trump was elected in 2016:
“When he got elected president, I’ve got to say I was at the lowest of my lows. I couldn't believe what the country was in for. And I was fully aware of just how sick the man is.”
On not feeling afraid of Trump:
”I have very many anti-Trump people stop me and usually say…‘I just want to thank you for standing up to him.’ But I was standing up in the truth, so I never felt like I was in danger. He kept saying he was going to sue me. But you can't sue someone for telling the truth, you know? So I didn't feel afraid. I've never felt afraid of Donald Trump.”
On what happens if and when criminal indictments come:
This is someone who has a personality disorder, doesn't know how to function in the world as a fully fused-together human being. He compartmentalizes and hurts everyone but himself. And when [New York State Attorney General] Letitia James is going to indict him…I think he'll turn on all his family. Because that's all he knows. He's like a feral dog, who only knows how to survive and to attack others. That's who he is as a person. And I'm really interested to see what comes out of this, all these indictments and, you know, sedition. I mean, come on, the man is the worst thing that ever happened to the United States. And to think that more than half the country, or almost half the country, believes in him still is very chilling…I’ve got all my money on Letitia James; I'm thinking that she's gonna do it for all of us.
Finally, on fame, growing up with social responsibility, and telling the truth:
“If I were not an entertainer, I would have the same amount of social justice issues in my life, because we were shown them as children at the dinner table: when my mother would collect the clothes to give away to poorer families, when we would do Catholic Charities, when we would do things that involve the community, like, my mother was the president of the parish council and on the PTA school board. And so I was sort of raised with that in my blood. I don't think there's any way for me to be without that part, so what I would say to people is, if you have a microphone or access to a microphone, or some sort of fame, and what that comes with in America, please use it to shine the light on the truth.”
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I, too, am a resident of the tri-state area and, like Rosie, I knew Donald Trump was a low life. He didn't prove me wrong after his dive into politics. He brought us to the brink of authoritarianism and his big lie is going to lead to more civil unrest. Personally, and as a member of the bar in good standing, I want to see him get his just desserts from a court of competent jurisdiction, civil or criminal.
I used to watch Rosie’s show every day after work & I remember how ugly it got. It was unbelievable to watch it unfold. I remember it started out as Rosie making this funny statement abt him. She’s a comic, that’s what she does. It was a joke & it wasn’t inappropriate. It was funny. He went ballistic contacting media outlets to slam Rosie, saying things that , if you followed her, you knew it was not true. She followed with the truth & tried to handle it professionally. He would not let go. I sat on the sofa saying “He’s flipping crazy. There’s something wrong with him.” My high school students would come into class & ask me questions abt how it was playing out because they were watching it at home & I always used stuff like this to show kids how to communicate & avoid these types of conflicts. It was such a hot topic for quite some time that I finally spent 1 day, with all my classes, going over how to handle these types of situations because they would encounter people in their lives like djt, how to spot the signs, how to exit the spat & avoid future interaction with these types of people. I admire Rosie. I’m proud of her accomplishments & the work she has done. She’s a positive person. He tried so hard, for too long, to break her spirit but she kept the comedy coming. I’m telling you, I had never seen anything on tv like this as it was playing out. But, she had super powers. So, Rosie, if you read this, I can guarantee you that any of my students from that year probably did not vote for him in 2016, if they recalled that lesson plan!