As a child, you played Laura Ingalls Wilder in the TV adaptation of
“Little House on the Prairie.” Now you’re running to represent the Eighth
District of Michigan in Congress. If you win, will this be your first
nonentertainment-related job? I’ve done volunteer work, but I’ve never
been paid for it. So, yes, it will be my first. There was no salary for the
presidency of the Screen Actors Guild.
Famously, the SAG presidency was the thing on Ronald Reagan’s résumé that supporters pointed to when he first got into politics. Does it actually prepare you for political office? Like Washington, SAG is a two-party system; there’s a liberal and a conservative party. The names change, but when I was there, my party was called the Restore Respect Party, and my opposition was the Membership First Party. I reached across the aisle to a few people from my opponents’ party who I thought had really terrific ideas.
Are there any other entertainers-turned-politicians that you look at and see as role models? Because I am a woman doing this, I don’t know that there is anyone else out there like me.
Have you heard the expression that “Washington is Hollywood for ugly people”? What a horrible thing to say.
It’s far from the worst thing that’s been said about D.C., and I think there’s some truth to it: Both are full of very ambitious people who network all the time and who sometimes forget the reason they came in the first place. So, what is Hollywood the Washington for? Well, the best way I can liken the two is the Republican debates, which are the single greatest reality program on television today.
How does it feel to be an entertainer running in this cycle, which has been unprecedented in its levels of theatricality? There is no theatricality going down here in the Eighth District of Michigan.
You used to have a blog, and one post goes into great detail about your decision to do breast augmentation, and then your decision to have the implants removed. Do you think that your habit of being so candid is an asset as a politician, or do you think you’ll need to be a little more disciplined? Well, I’m not a traditional politician. I was not raised to be a politician. I am a citizen. I think leaders should be more candid, frankly, and less political.
Unlike most people, you had a profession as a child. Did you ever go through a period in your youth when you thought about what you were going to be when you grow up? I actually wanted to be a neurosurgeon specializing in pediatric oncology. My mother practically told me, “You know that what you’re doing is a career, right?” I said, “Is it, really?” I’ve stayed in entertainment in various forms, and it’s extraordinary that all those decisions led here — I never thought I would be running for office.
If you could wave a magic wand and pass any bill through Congress, what would it be? The first thing I would do is co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act.
In your 2009 memoirs, you wrote that you were considering a second career as a nurse. And on your blog, you’ve said you’re bad at follow-through. Why should voters think that running for office is more than just a whim for you? Because this campaign is my primary focus. I have the ability to focus when need be.
You’re in recovery — and in recovery, it’s highly recommended that you develop a spiritual practice. What does yours look like? I have absolute belief in a higher power. I believe that I can do nothing without a community of people around me.
How do these beliefs inform your politics? I have faith in people. I have a faith that love will win out.
But if you look at the headlines, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of love in politics these days. I’m sorry. That doesn’t feel like a question.