Roseanne Barr has been one of America’s leading cultural voices over the past 30 years, much of that popularity fueled by her groundbreaking hit sitcom “Roseanne.”
But in 2012, Barr took her outspoken opinions to another level, running for president of the United States.
She filmed that wild ride in which she started out representing her own Green Tea Party, and then went for the nomination of the Green Party, opening a can of worms that illustrated that even indie parties are screwed up these days.
She wound up being the presidential candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party and ran with Cindy Sheehan as her running mate. Their platform included advocating marijuana legalization, promoting environmental preservation, ending wars overseas and advocating for equal rights. She wound up in sixth place nationwide, and the resulting documentary — “Roseanne for President!” — debuts Friday on video on demand (VOD), major video-streaming services including Netflix and in a limited number of theaters. As the trailer for the film states, “When elections become a joke, it takes a comedian to make sense of it all.”
Barr discussed the film in an exclusive interview with the Pasadena Weekly given just before she presented the film last Sunday at the Politicon convention at the Pasadena Convention Center. Barr talks about what she learned during the campaign, what fires her up, what she hopes to do next and makes it clear that she’s the one who broke the glass ceiling first as a woman presidential nominee.
PW: What made you decide to run for president in 2012, after more than 25 years in show business?
ROSEANNE: I always was talking that I should run for president and I had kind of a satirical campaign for a while. In 2010, I decided to start giving speeches because I like writing speeches and giving them. I was friends with Michael Moore, and he suggested that I hire the guy he works with, Eric Weinrib, to film me giving a speech, and then Eric said, “Why don’t you really run?” And [former Democratic congresswoman and 2008 Green Party nominee] Cynthia McKinney said why don’t you try to get nominated by the Green Party? I wanted to film the whole process and see how it worked. And then it got serious and evolved.
What did you learn from the experience overall?
I always knew that it was a rigged system, everybody knows that. There’s no way anybody who can’t raise $1 billion can run. That was my goal and I did it. That’s no small achievement that I got on three state ballots without raising any money. That’s what I wanted to prove. I financed it and I did get some people who donated about $25,000 or so. I put the rest in, but we didn’t spend more than $1 per vote.
The Republicans and Democrats paid something like $1,500 per vote and the Green Party just wanted matching funds. That was what they cared about. But I paid $1 per vote. That was what I wanted to prove, that we need to overturn Citizens United and regain control of our process. Americans know nothing about ballot access and that’s why it’s screwed up. I wanted them to see how it works, so that Americans who are decent humans would start running themselves and take our country back from special interests and political prostitutes.
How did you feel about this year’s election? Did you like Bernie?
I support myself and I’ll write myself in. It’s all BS. The Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same coin, both owned by banks and big money. All of them are pretty irrelevant to their own tax base. All of their rhetoric is to keep people divided on class issues so they can work both sides of the street. I don’t support them, but I don’t hate either one. They work together to make sure average Americans are kept out of the money process.
My speech started in front of the White House in 2010 on Mother’s Day. I said I’m running on the radical premise that public money belongs to the public. That’s the biggest point I can make. These people are taking public money and putting into private pockets, and that’s theft.
Do you have any hope for the future?
I hope I helped by inspiring people with good intentions to run. Democracy works if you work it, but you have to get out and work it. People are kept so busy they can’t really do anything. But I think that my generation of people that have extra time and extra money, of which there’s a large number, we kind of owe it to future generations to get out and work this democracy so it’s here for the next generation and the one after. I’d rather see grandmothers run everything.
How do you feel about Hillary being the first female major party nominee?
She’s not the first. I was the nominee of a party before her. I beat her on that … Hillary has pretty much an unbeatable machine behind her, or so it seemed. Now it’s interesting that Trump built a machine too. It’s funny to see that it’s a contest between those two and their media machines. I have a feeling this time the best person will win, although that’s the lesser of two evils with those two. It’s interesting to see, to watch it and see how it unfolds and what side Americans take.
The most horrifying thing is to see how Americans try to marginalize and attack people who don’t think exactly like they do. These are scary times for people who care about fascism. The first thing Democrats call Republicans is racist and the first thing Republicans call Democrats is traitor. What kind of an election system is that? That’s some desperate shit, and I know that almost 40 percent of Americans don’t vote and that’s who I targeted for my constituency.
Our country works to separate people and marginalize them, kick people from voter registration and keep them at each other’s throats while a very few pocket the public’s money. Let’s get together and get rid of all the prostitutes in government and put people in who care about their family and country, but unfortunately that would be a third party. Neither of the two main parties do anything but figure out how to take the public’s money.
This year, it appears that the Libertarians are drawing 12 percent so far, but third parties need 15 percent in polls to make it onto the presidential debate stage. How do you feel about that?
I think that’s sickening and what’s funny is it was Ralph Nader who mostly kept me out. Our government is in gridlock. It’s not an accident, it’s a strategy. Anyone with anything real to say to the 40 percent of Americans who don’t vote will be kept out of debates. But the questions are never tough anyway and no one ever speaks about public money going into private hands.
We’re building a wall with Jordan now to protect them from ISIS, that’s what the American people are paying for. We’re definitely going one world with no borders. These are the times we’re living in and no one involved even addresses the issue. It’s theater. All the money goes to buy TV time and when I was young, both sides got it free. So the elections are just a scam for Wall Street people. They don’t care about anything other than how to scam more money from us.
Thanks for your time …
And about the Libertarians — anyone who says they believe in less government scares the f*** out of me. What then? The billionaires are gonna protect us? We need the government to protect us from them. But they make it sound like something else. I understand a corrupt government is the worst thing on Earth because they’re stealing from us. The Libertarians are saying let’s have less protection from psychopathic billionaires. The bullshit is so thick.
And the Green Party, I’m still fighting because I don’t give up and I don’t let idiots win without hearing from me. I will be the vice president candidate if Kent Nesplay gets the nomination instead of Jill Stein at the Green Party convention in August. So there’s continuation.