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In a funny way, we’re all going to miss Roseanne when the 2018 iteration ends soon. Right now, there’s a pause. No new episode this week and four more to come starting next week.

In this pause, let’s consider what has happened and what can be learned. Conservatives can learn a lot and Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford can both learn and take solace from it.

But, first, the power of network TV is reasserted in the astonishing ratings success of the rebooted series. What was dead is revived, like Dan Conner returning to life on the show. Second, the punditry inspired by Roseanne is breathtaking. There is hardly a columnist alive in the English-speaking world who hasn’t pontificated on the matter. If you haven’t written on Roseanne, you can’t be going around calling yourself a columnist. Your membership has been revoked.

The Hollywood Reporter, a publication with a lot of moxie, called upon retired NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to pronounce. He did, in fine style, even quoting philosopher Karl Popper: “The aim of argument should not be victory, but progress.” His take is that the sitcom is not pro-Trump; it’s about people who have been fooled by Trump’s promises. He’s all for the political and social arguments on Roseanne but he concludes, “Basically, Roseanne Conner is like a student at Trump University during the investigation of fraud, still hoping her degree will mean something.”

The same publication invited Anthony Scaramucci, who served as White House communications director for about the length of a sitcom episode, to pronounce. He duly asserted that the sitcom shouldn’t be brooded upon or watched in the context of partisan politics but appreciated for the “diversity, acceptance and civility among its cast of characters.”

Right, well, both are somewhat correct. Funny, that.

The Roseanne character is a Donald Trump supporter because he’s a businessman and she would rather have a businessman in office than a politician. That’s good news for Ford and his handlers. There is an appetite for the burly white businessman as saviour. When skeptical voters, especially those who feel put upon by rapid change, hear a politician talk about jobs and lower taxes, they hear political dogma and posturing. When they hear a businessman talk about these topics, they hear solutions. They see a saviour in their midst. Go figure.

What can also be gleaned from Roseanne is that the “progressive” in Progressive Conservative matters. “God did not give me this big a head to hold a narrow mind,” John Goodman says as the character Dan Conner. He has no problem with his grandchild being a gender-nonconforming kid. In fact, both he and Roseanne Conner have an empathetic understanding of the kid and are tolerant in matters of race and gender. The fast route to stoking their anger is taking a sanctimonious tone and espousing socially conservative views. Don’t go there, Ford, no matter how tempting the resulting flattery and support from the social conservatives.

Perhaps the primary lesson to be learned is that there is a disconnect between voters and the political infrastructure. For Roseanne, the character, politics is rather like some distant game or TV drama being played out, at a great remove from daily life.

A wise politician would endeavour to connect directly with Roseanne and illustrate that political policy is directly and viscerally connected to wages, health care and the price of groceries.

And what concerns Roseanne most is her children and grandchildren. It’s their future she is most worried about. Her own life has had a lot of ruin in it. The businessman-saviour talks about sorting out the here-and-now, bluntly promising to fire this civil servant or jail that crooked politician. In the end, though, as Roseanne the show illustrates, the promises amount to nothing but ephemeral excitement and everybody ends up like the Conner family: broke, worried about paying for medications and groceries, and concerned the kids are going to end up in the same position.

Roseanne the show is from the past, and superficially about the present. But really it’s about the kids, about the future. Only Roseanne the character and Roseanne Barr herself are pleased with Trump. The kids aren’t, and that’s the true lesson any politician can learn from it.

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