Award-winning actress Janine Turner has overcome daunting battles: alcoholism, single motherhood, a failed engagement to notorious Hollywood liberal Alec Baldwin and the scorn of the entertainment industry when she backed McCain/Palin in the 2008 presidential election, to name a few.
But now the former star of TV’s “Northern Exposure” is fighting a new battle: An effort to save America’s republican way of government by educating its citizens about the wisdom and critical need for the U.S. Constitution.
In an exclusive interview, Turner, author of “A Little Bit Vulnerable: On Hollywood, God, Sobriety & Politics,” told WND she’s been passionate about American government since childhood.
“When I was in third grade, I looked up at my father, who was a West Pointer, one of the first to fly twice the speed of sound in the 1950s,” Turner recalled. “We talked politics a lot, and I looked up at 8 years old and asked my father, ‘If our Founding Fathers were to come back today, what would they be most disappointed about?’ What kind of 8-year-old asks that question?”
But when she began landing roles on TV’s “Dallas” and “General Hospital,” for example, she began to discover just how inhospitable Hollywood was to her brand of constitutional conservativism.
“I was an outcast,” Turner told WND.”I was told in Hollywood to sit in a corner and keep my mouth shut, that I didn’t know what I was talking about because I was a Republican. Those were the days of Ronald Reagan, and I loved Reagan but everyone around me hated him. It was really difficult and disheartening.
“I was a roommate with Demi Moore on ‘General Hospital,’ and I watched them all run off to Jane Fonda parties and be hip and cool, and I refused to go,” she continued. “So then I get on set, and I’m a Christian and I’m sober, which really made me an outcast. So it’s been difficult. It’s difficult when you speak out.”
But Janine Turner is speaking out, and she’s done “sitting in a corner.”
“It’s a memoir, but it’s atypical,” Turner told WND. “It’s a compilation of my writings, and many of the chapters are different genres of writing. I’m opening up about a lot of things that, quite frankly, make me feel vulnerable.”
Included in “A Little Bit Vulnerable” are poems from her years of Hollywood heartbreak and struggle with alcohol, a letter from her great-great grandfather about his horrible withdrawals from the effects of John Barleycorn (an old term for alcohol made from barley), essays on “The Federalist Papers,” transcripts from her radio show, including interviews with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and more.
Most of the book, however, Turner says is about “what I feel we need to do to save our republic.”
“That’s why I started my foundation, Constituting America,” Turner told WND. “When people tell me they don’t understand or they don’t like the Constitution, I look at them and say, ‘Oh, Really? Which part?’ and they’re dumbfounded. The majority of people who have that kneejerk reaction can’t say why.
“I find that to be both horrifying and fascinating,” she continued. “John Adams said, ‘Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people,’ and that’s one of the things I try to do, to reveal how the Constitution and the Federalist Papers are so relevant for today.
“One example I talk about is legislators digging their own graves,” she said. “We have to wake up and realize we need our congressional, legislative branch, and we need to be aware of what happened with the 17th Amendment under President Woodrow Wilson, which completely restructured the foundation of our Constitution.
“The senators were originally appointed by the state legislatures because the Senate was supposed to look after the states’ interests,” she continued. “But [under Wilson] there was an agenda going on. They said the state legislatures were corrupt, they can’t get anything done, they’re backed by special interests – significantly, it’s all the things you hear today about the U.S. Congress.
“I’m fascinated the senators at the time would propose and amendment that brought about their own demise,” she argued. “Yet it’s happening again, where everyone’s down on Congress. Look at their ratings. But we need our legislative branch; if we lose it, it becomes all about the executive branch, which is exactly what the progressives want. Progressive Democrats want a centralized government, they want to take care of everybody, they want big government, and the Congress is the only thing that prevents that.
“I encourage people to look back and not to say, ‘This is just too big to fight.’ That’s exactly what the Democrats want,” she said.
“In one op-ed republished in the book, I also take on legislators because they’re digging their own graves by making bills so big the American people can no longer understand them,” she continued. “That harkens back to Federalist Paper No. 62, which is the whole reason I started this, where James Madison said if the laws are so voluminous they can’t be read or understood, then what’s the point in having a republic? And that’s what’s happening. The president steps out there looking like a father figure with a few soundbites the American people can understand, so they gravitate toward the executive branch, which was never supposed to be the paramount branch it’s become today. It was supposed to be Congress. But Congress is making their bills so big, they’re eliminating the people from the governing process.
“I have many ideas in my book about how we can take on these issues,” Turner told WND, “as well as how Republicans can better communicate with women and how to get God back in schools.”
But as she’s still working in Hollywood – even more so lately, now that her daughter is getting older – why would Turner risk the rejection of Tinsel Town all over again by speaking out?
“I may be an enigma,” Turner told WND. “I’m a little bit independent, a little bit independent, a little bit tea party, a little bit conservative, a constitutionalist; I’m just definitely not a liberal progressive Democrat.
“But our country is more important to me than anything else,” she concluded. “I love our country, our republican form of government, and I want my daughter to have the freedoms we have.”