Donald Trump Channels Archie Bunker

"All In The Family" predicted a policy proposal that President Trump and many other conservatives have made in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

An episode of All In The Family seems to have predicted a policy proposal that President Trump and many other conservatives have made in the wake of the Florida school shooting:

Archie Bunker was the walking caricature of a bigot, a parody created for a 1970s sitcom. Yet the plan by President Donald Trump and the NRA to arm teachers seems to have come straight from “All in the Family.”

In a 1972 episode, the iconic TV character ― played by Carroll O’Connor ― tackled the issue of gun control. At the time, Bunker was responding to hijackings rather than mass shootings, but his solution was eerily similar to Trump’s plan to put guns in schools.

“Arm all your passengers,” Bunker said.

Bunker said a theoretical gunman would no longer have “superiorority” and “ain’t gonna dare to pull out no rod” as a result.

He continued:

“And then your airlines, then they wouldn’t have to search the passengers on the ground no more, they just pass out the pistols at the beginning of the trip, and they pick ’em up again at the end. Case closed.”

Norman Lear, one of the producers of “All In The Family,” noted in 2012 that this clip was frighteningly similar to the NRA’s plan for putting more guns in schools after the Sandy Hook mass shooting.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” NRA executive Wayne LaPierre said at the time.

Here’s the clip in question:

The obvious analogy, of course, is to President Trump’s idea to allow teacher and other non-police school personnel to carry weapons on campus. The difference, though, is that Bunker was a character on television. Donald Trump is really the President. Additionally, Archie eventually came to see the error of his ways on issues such as race, and even with his biases, Archie was a likable character. Donald Trump is not likable, and is on the verge of being 72 years old and seemingly becoming more convinced of his biases as the years go on.

FILED UNDER: Entertainment, Popular Culture, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    A key difference between Archie Bunker and Trump is that Archie was just an ignorant old bigot. But Archie loved his wife. Archie was not booking sex workers and porn actresses while Edith was still in the delivery room. Trump is a nasty, malignant narcissist. Archie was just stupid.

  2. @michael reynolds:

    Archie was stupid, but he learned. Trump will never learn.

  3. JohnMcC says:

    And it could be pointed out that the entire world realized that we were supposed to laugh at Archie’s plan. Something like 100 armed passengers firing away in a 707: Hilarious!

    I suppose it’s indicative of our relationship with reality that when transferred to 2018 we’re supposed to think it’s a serious attempt to solve the problem.

    I blame digital media. As long as some act can be imagined as a scene in a video game why can’t it be real, right? As opposed to imagining an actual gunfight in an actual school. That’s what I thought when our President pledged to run into a school shooting if he were ever in a situation to do so, he’s unable to imagine an actual event because his myth-making facility seems equally ‘real’.

  4. James Pearce says:

    The difference, though, is that Bunker was a character on television.

    So is Donald Trump.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I offered the other day to ‘edit’ any scene someone cared to submit showing an armed teacher saving the day. One dummy took me up on it. Took me all of 30 seconds to destroy the scene.

    Things work in fiction because writers make it work. We design characters and setting that make it possible to portray the exceedingly unlikely as possible. What these gun fantasists are is lousy, unimaginative writers casting themselves in rip-offs of some professional writers work without understanding the craft that made the scene plausible.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    You are racist scum who slimes traumatized children.

  7. @James Pearce:

    Touche, James

  8. Kylopod says:

    I’ve been posting that clip myself on various blogs in the past couple of weeks.

    Amazingly, Norman Lear is still alive and kicking in his mid-90s, and in the last two years he’s given a number of interviews commenting on the Archie/Trump connection.

    “I don’t know where love exists in what I see of Donald Trump,” Lear said. “I knew where it existed in Archie Bunker and the American people found it. That’s why they cared for him, despite how he talked. He wasn’t a hater. He was somebody who was afraid of progress.” ….

    Lemon asked Lear if he thought the fictional character would have voted for Trump.

    “I think that would’ve been a really great episode,” Lear said. “I think he would have walked out of the door to go to the voting booth and you would not know exactly — you would have reason to be very unsure.”

    In 2016 I wrote an imdb post (now gone, because imdb has since removed its message boards) arguing that Archie was the prototypical Trump supporter–white, racist, blue-collar, whose “conservatism” was almost entirely based on his fear and resentment at a changing and increasingly diverse world. A while back I watched an interview with Carroll O’Connor in what must have been not long before his death in the early 2000s. He said the following about the Archie character:

    I think probably the most stupid of all conservatives and right-wingers are the poor. No conservative government ever did anything for them, in England or in the United States. The Republicans — it’s not the poor man’s party! So Archie…was a dumbbell. He didn’t know why he was conservative…. He thought that they would keep the country racially pure.

    Pundits once routinely talked about “the Archie Bunker vote.” That term seems to have faded as people who were alive during the show’s first run grow older, but it seems as applicable now as ever.

    I was born in the late ’70s. I saw various episodes of the show on reruns as a kid, and I finally got around to bingeing the entire show sometime in the 2000s. It was striking looking at it through modern eyes. There are things that date the show. For example, there’s a weird moment where Mike tells Gloria not to smother the baby because that could cause it to become homosexual. Usually whenever LGBT issues were brought up on the show (and they were several times), Mike was shown as the progressive and Archie as the backwards reactionary (though he did have a heart that sometimes led him to behave more tolerantly). But it’s easy to forget that back then even many liberals believed homosexuality to be a psychological disorder caused by bad parenting.

    On the other hand, there were moments on the show that make you think nothing’s changed, and Archie’s speech on gun control is a prime example.

  9. Kathy says:

    Definitely the party of Homer Simpson.

  10. MarkedMan says:

    Breaking news from Georgia that a teacher had barricaded himself in his classroom and discharged a gun. He’s in policy custody now. ARM THE TEACHERS! What could go wrong?

    This stupid and juvenile belief from the gun culture nuts that giving everyone a gun makes everyone safe is nonsense. Sensible gun owners should be pushing these overgrown man-boys off the bus as fast as they can. It is not for nothing that when an old west town got big enough to hire a real sheriff the first things he frequently enacted was a ban on guns in the town limits.

  11. JohnMcC says:

    @Kylopod: Wish I could document this but I’m certain that in one episode, Archie has a conversation with an ex-football player that he had massive respect for in which this friend reveals that he is gay. I seem to recall it was one of the strongest episodes.

    Norman Lear deserves huge loads of honor for that show.

  12. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Well, that difference, too. Good point!

  13. al-Ameda says:


    to @Doug Mataconis:
    You’re an old man that has learn’t nothing in his life. Sad

    Did someone put too much Velveeta on your Cream of Wheat this morning?