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William Shatner on politics

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on January 17, 2009

In an interview with Glenn Beck on May 16, 2008 the inimitable actor William Shatner made many thoughtful if offbeat remarks about politics.

Early in the interview, Beck asked the former Captain Kirk about the zany obstreperousness of Star Trek fans. Shatner responded, “I mean, it was a fantasy, wasn’t it? It was just a television show.”

When pressed, Shatner assented to holding the belief that “almost every problem we have right now is due to overpopulation”. Shatner said that  “…nature eventually will take care of that problem like they did, like nature does with animals.” He elaborated,

…how do we stop the overpopulation? I guess it’s by education and saying you’ve got to have less children, you can’t have all the children you want anymore. There’s a difference in the world now. Or nature will take care of it.

Shatner ascribes his views on the subject to a reading (40 years ago) of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.

When asked about the present state of US politics, Shatner said,

I remember watching the McCarthy hearings and thinking, wow, gosh, the government is riddled with communists, going to eat us up. And then it turned out to be…a terrible man.

But the country reared up. Good men reared up and said, no, and took control finally. Of course! It’s America! That’s what America does.

Shatner then lauded the “mutual culture” of the US and Canada, while calling for substantial government reforms.

We, the people. Need a crisis, democracy needs a crisis. Otherwise you’re “maybe we should, maybe we shouldn’t, let’s argue about it until there’s no way out!” And, boom, the American people and the — and what we’ve — and I say we because Canada is so much a part of the United States.  It’s such a mutual culture, really.

But we now need an individual to sweep away all the things that America has been doing for all these years without a crisis.

We need election reform. We need — we need true elections. We need people not influencing the government with special needs. We need an environmental policy. We need an immigration policy. We need the war policy. We need people who can make decisions…

…what those guys elected are trying to do is, “how do I keep my job and make a reform?

Well, I’d rather keep my job than make a reform.

I’ll let the next guy, 20 years from now, do the reform.”

And everybody does that.

We need — we need the population to say we need a Democratic revolution, and let’s get back to the basics of the Constitution.

Pressed for a more specific philosophy, Shatner said his creed is “nobody knows anything”,

…when it gets to theoretical things like, what’s the best policy about X, nobody really knows.

We’re all guessing. But we know that what you’re doing now isn’t working. So let’s try something else. Your solution may be just as good as mine, as long as it’s not following exactly what we’re doing now, because what we’re doing now is not working.

When Beck asked Shatner how to create real political change, the response was, “The citizens of the United States have to take hold of it. That’s what elections are about. And you’ve got to elect the people you think are sensible. That’s what you’ve got to do.”

Shatner advocated better education, especially about political issues, as a potential solution.

And every so often — every time that we came to a crisis, I’d feel in the bottom of my heart like I know it’s going to happen now, America will come out of it. America — but you have to have the education to do that.

Our educational system is bizarre! In the 30s or 40s of countries in the world? How is that possible? We’ve got billions of dollars we’re throwing at it. Why isn’t it better?

What is the solution to having — being the richest country in the world and one of the worst educational systems? What is the answer to that? Is it more money for the teachers? They tried that. What — and nobody’s got an answer.

Shatner agreed when Beck suggested “It is the parents”, but countered that many households have both parents working. Beck responded that those lifestyles exist “Because we’re living in houses that we shouldn’t have. We have these enormous houses and these expensive lifestyles that we shouldn’t have…”

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I wonder what Shatner thinks about Barack Obama’s decisive election victory…

William Shatner’s new autobiography, Up Till Now, is available in bookstores and online. Glenn Beck will host a new show on the Fox News Channel beginning January 19.

3 Responses to “William Shatner on politics”

  1. Hey, I read all your posts, keep them coming.

  2. I’m a huge fan of this blog and I read it regularly. Keep up the good work!

  3. […] of Glenn Beck, by far the most viewed post in the entirety of my solo blogging career is the one in which I discuss William Shatner’s political views, as revealed in an interview with Beck on Headline News (back when Beck worked for CNN). I was […]

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