By Kevin Williams Entertainment and Politics Editor
JANINE TURNER is an accomplished Actress, successful Entrepreneur, engaged Mom, hard-working Patriot and a studious Constitutionalist. Best-known for her television roles on FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and NORTHERN EXPOSURE, Janine has also been seen by millions of people on Fox News Channel’s THE O’REILLY FACTOR and AMERICA LIVE WITH MEGYN KELLY. Her new PM Drive Time radio show launches on March 18th from Houston, TX and will be available nationally on Sirius-XM Ch. 166 and “I Heart Radio.” Janine recently took some time out to speak with Politisite about her launching “Constituting America,” the Founding Fathers, Acting in Hollywood and… Executive Orders.
KW: Many of us have never read or think twice about the U.S. Constitution after our school days. Why do you think this has occurred over time?
JT: It’s just not in the cultural forefront anymore. It’s not taught. Families don’t speak about it. In the early Revolutionary Days through the early 19th Century, everyone was so thrilled with these new-found liberties and they knew that their children were going to be the future of the Country. They were so proud and knew of [the Constitution’s] importance. They weren’t that so distant and far away from tyranny. I think that the further away we get from tyranny, the more comfortable we get. And politics seems unapproachable to some people. And then when they get involved and it doesn’t go their way, they get disappointed and feel powerless. I think a lot of that is the enormity of our Bills. In Federalist Paper 62, James Madison says “if the Laws are so voluminous that they cannot be read or so incoherent that they cannot be understood…” He goes on to ask… what’s the point? What is the point in having a legislative branch? What’s the point in electing our own officials, if we don’t understand anything that is going on. And I just think that Politics has just gotten enormous and people are frustrated.
KW: How has a lack of knowledge about our Constitution played into the America we have today, Politically and Culturally? If you say the word “Constitution,” many folks’ eyes glaze over. American pop culture is more interested in what Honey-Boo-Boo, One Direction or Beyonce are doing than the Constitution.
JT: That is so true. That is why we are trying to inspire kids with our “We The People -9/17” Contest to inspire these kids culturally to make their own short films, songs, things that can actually reach [kids] within their culture. Today, we are so incredibly divided and I think we need more reason in our country. We need more reasonable conversations with each other. George Washington, in his Farewell Address, talked about that he felt that the Party-System would be the demise of America. Because people would care more about the Party than being American. I think we’ve forgotten what it means to be an American citizen and unfortunately, the Constitution has become sort of this partisan issue. The irony of that is that there is not one thing that is partisan about the Constitution. They didn’t even have Parties back then. They evolved very quickly after Washington was in office, but it was not a partisan document. It was for ALL Americans.
KW: Do you think that your “Constituting America” program could have long-term effects on some our citizenry’s knowing about our nation’s founding and the guiding principles we did have?
JT: That is the hope. The Constitution just needs to be more on the cultural forefront of our minds. The more I learn, the more I realize that this [the Constitution] is just a non-partisan document. We just need to have reasonable discussions, we just need to educate. We shouldn’t force these kids [to be] “Right” or “Left.” We need to teach them both [perspectives]. Not that the Constitution is “Right.” It shouldn’t be considered “Conservative.” We need to just not “slam it” in our schools. Let me tell you the other side and let kids reason for themselves. Let them have all the facts and come up with their own opinion. Especially in colleges… we don’t need to force-feed kids’ ideologies. We need to force-feed kids… facts! Legitimate facts and let them come to their own conclusions.
KW: How did you talk your daughter, Juliette, into doing it? Was it a quick conversation?
JT: It is funny. It all started in 2010 and she was on spring break. We were in the hammock at our ranch. And I said, “C’mon we going to read the Declaration. Let’s read the Constitution together.” And she’s been part of this dream with me. She just actually enjoyed it. On Twitter, her friends would say “we’re at Six Flags, what are you doing?” She’d say, “I’m reading the Constitution with my Mom!” But, she liked it too. She also wrote a book about the Constitution herself. She took what a Professor has written and then she re-interpreted it for kids. I was launching my own radio show and she was doing this all by herself and she wrote them in “Fun Facts.” Like this is what Article, Official and Clause means… for us! And Harper-Collins picked it up. She did all the work on that. I never even looked at it until the final manuscript. It is in its second printing, so that’s encouraging.
KW: What is more exciting for you… reading the Constitution or a new script for a play or TV show?
JT: Ha-ha. That’s funny! Definitely, the Constitution. Today, I was reading our 90-90 Forum. This year, we are studying the Classics that inspired our Founding Fathers. Based off the Hillsdale Reader. What they do is for the kids is so they have all these famous works… like Brutus that inspired the Founding Fathers. But then it goes on to show all these challenges to the Constitution… like Lincoln’s Letters and Woodrow Wilson. It takes it all the way through Reagan. I read some of the. We had scholars and professors explain Aristotle’s Essays on Politics, what Aristotle meant by them and why they’re important today. I still love the Movies. I still someday want to do Broadway and maybe go back into it a little bit. But for right now, like I said, I’m the little “Third-Grader” sort of living her dream.
KW: What does Aristotle and Cicero have to do with all this? What do they have to do with “Constituting America”?
JT: Well, they were the first thinkers that thought about “Liberty” and what it means to a society. And that people are really happiest when they are doing things for their society. Which led, of course, to the “…pursuit of happiness” line in the Declaration of Independence. Our Founding Fathers studied the Classics. They studied their history and studied where Republics had failed in the past and said “we don’t want to repeat that. We need three Branches of Government to check each other!”
Aristotle talked about happiness and what happiness really means and so, they gleaned a lot of
what he wrote… in the Declaration of Independence. And the Constitution was based on the Philosophers that they studied and we just don’t do that much anymore. I think that it is important to have the document and to understand why they made the decisions that they did. It’s
interesting to study where Rome went wrong and why they collapsed. We don’t want to repeat
that. That is why we have a scholar each day [breaking it all down] into modern terms what it
means instead of just some lecture essay on an MP3. We have the works of John Locke, who had
a huge impact on our thinkers. The more knowledge we have, the deeper appreciation we’ll have
for the documents.
KW: What do you think of the current use of Executive Orders along the lines of the Constitution? We seem to have a Government more by Executive Order than we have had before. I find their use to be intriguing.
JT: You have hit the head on something that I am very concerned about. It [Executive Orders] has been taken out of hand. All Presidents have done them, but I think that they Executive Orders are [getting used] more and more. They along with the Debt are dangerous. They are becoming precedent-setting. They are usurping the Legislative Branch and they’re making the Legislative Branch impotent. I’m going to talk about it on my Show (launching on March 18th) and I think that we need to do something about it. People just need to feel empowered. We are empowered by the Constitution, but the Executive Orders are a dangerous trend that is usurping the power of the “People’s House.” To me, what was the most frightening thing, from a non-partisan and Constitutional perspective, what I felt as a Constitutionalist… is what President Obama said in his State of the Union when he said, “If Congress doesn’t do it, I will.” That’s just not the way our Government is set out to be.
KW: Some Americans may not be interested in learning more about the Constitution because they feel that it doesn’t apply to them, because the original document considered them to be less than a whole person or less of a whole American. What would you say to them about the importance of reading and learning more about the Constitution?
JT: That is interesting. We have a lot of people of color who are our winners, who are African American. If you watch that six-minute clip on our website, [you’ll see] that they are on fire about the Constitution. I mean, it is a part of the Constitution that is tricky and unfortunate. How do you validate something like that? You can’t. But, I think that there were a majority of Founders who realized that it was completely wrong. George Washington, by the end of his career, realized that it was all wrong. But, they knew that the document would the platform for the freedom. The Declaration gave everybody, “All men are created equal.” The Constitution was going to uphold the Declaration and its principles and give us a “Platform for Freedom.” I think that they wouldn’t have been able to get the Constitution done without the Three-Fifths Compromise. It was a horrible, terrible thing, but we have the Amendment Process… and they knew that there were elements that were wrong in [the Constitution]. That is why we have the Amendment Process. Rather than throw out the baby with the bath water… in a way, today it preserves those freedoms.
KW: I know from working in filmmaking, that many filmmakers, writers and actors are unaware of how much of their artistic voice is based in the freedoms of the Constitution. These rights seem to be taken for granted by many artists… but if
they were more aware of the Constitution, etc. do you think that they might have
the Constitution reflected in their works in the future more so than today?
JT: Well, wouldn’t that be nice?
KW: Half the country would appreciate that!
JT: I think that is one of the greatest ironies about Hollywood right now. One of the greatest ironies that I can’t quite get over, having lived out there. You’re a filmmaker… in Hollywood or New York, wherever the industry is… it is so incredibly ironic that they want to silence people who don’t agree with them. And yet, they want all the freedom in the world to do whatever they want to do. There is just a level of hypocrisy that is really unfortunate. I guess that I harken back to “they condemn what they do not know.” If they only took time to educate, to learn, to realize that the Constitution is not a threat to anybody. That the Constitution is actually upholding those rights… then they wouldn’t condemn it.
What amazes me about the Constitution is when you read it… other than what we discussed which was amended later… is how can you not appreciate it? We live it every day. Districts, re-districting, how many people are in every district and how old they have to be… it prevents us from having a tyrant. You know what is [incredible] about the power of Hollywood and what they could do if they wanted to… is LINCOLN. It is showing history and the importance of something that all Americans should know and probably don’t know. Like how the Thirteenth Amendment came about, behind the scenes. That is a wonderful history lesson in a cultural way. Many more movies could be made about that type of thing in that way. If only they would embrace it.
CONSERVATIVES & REPUBLICANS WIN THIS OSCAR NIGHT- NO MATTER WHAT