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Much has been written about who will fill Meghan McCain’s seat on The View. The prevailing sentiment seems to be that ABC wants another conservative to replace their headline-making co-host, as Barbara Walters conceived the show as a place where women of different generations and ideologies could come together to discuss the day’s biggest stories. With four liberal-leaning women on the panel, it’s natural for execs to seek out someone with a different perspective, but why limit your options to just one side of the political spectrum? Here’s a free idea: replace Meghan McCain with a democratic socialist, you cowards!
Despite what the “Meghan McCain vs. The World” headlines would have you believe, the politics of The View are far more complex than they appear. Early on in her tenure, McCain bonded with her co-hosts over her support for liberal social causes like LGBTQ+ marriage, and from September 2018 to January 2020, she wasn’t even the most conservative of the group: that honor fell to Abby Huntsman, who repeatedly spouted Fox News talking points on-air, but said them so quietly that no one noticed. More recently, McCain and her co-hosts actually agreed on issues ranging from impeaching Trump (they were all in favor after the January 6 insurrection) to the urgent need for paid family leave, an indication that the panel is operating closer to the political middle than any extreme.
This is precisely what makes filling Meghan McCain’s seat on The View with a conservative so difficult. McCain checked three different boxes for producers: she’s an outspoken Republican, an anti-Trumper, and a Millennial. Finding a TV-ready conservative is one thing; finding a TV-ready, Millennial conservative who dislikes Trump (therefore generating enough chemistry with her co-hosts to sustain the show through softball topics and guest interviews) is another thing entirely. As a result, it’s likely that whoever The View chooses next — names like Kellyanne Conway and Candace Owens have been thrown out there — will only fill two of those three buckets, and leaving the wrong one out could spell disaster for the show as it embarks on its landmark 25th season.
So why not do a 180 and look to the left for inspiration? While the show has had a conservative on its panel since Elisabeth Hasselbeck was hired in 2003, there’s no mandate to continue along this path. If The View really wants to showcase a different perspective, as God and Barbara Walters intended, it should hire a democratic socialist to provide a legitimately leftist viewpoint, rather than the when-it’s-convenient progressivism espoused by Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg.
Avoiding the “Which Conservative is Least Bad” conversation is just one reason why embracing leftism makes sense for the show. Over the past six years, membership in the Democratic Socialists of America has jumped from 6,500 to 90,000, with much of that growth coming during the COVID-19 pandemic. The group’s ideals are also becoming more popular with voters, who have elected DSA members like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib (frequent topics of discussion on The View) to Congress. On the local level, India Walton pulled off a stunning upset to win Buffalo’s mayoral primary, and a dozen DSA-endorsed candidates in New York, San Antonio, Texas, and St. Petersburg, Florida won their primaries or general elections earlier this year.
The movement is clearly growing among regular Americans, but its tenets also seem to be making an impact on The View’s panel. For years, Sunny Hostin, the most progressive of the co-hosts, has asked every presidential candidate and elected official about reparations for Black Americans, and she refuses to back down when they try to pivot. Joy Behar has thrown her support behind the Green New Deal, as she says climate change is her “No. 1 issue,” while Sara Haines and Whoopi Goldberg have joined them in advocating for a livable minimum wage and increasing taxes on tech companies.
Of course there are plenty of democratic socialist policies that the co-hosts don’t agree with, like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, abolishing the electoral college, and defunding the police. Hell, Whoopi Goldberg spent half of 2019 complaining that she, a rich celebrity, pays too much in taxes! Fresh off its most successful season ever, the show needs ideological conflict to stay up in the ratings, and the leftist vs. liberal divide is sure to deliver — just look at Twitter for proof of its staying power.
Traditionalists will say you don’t reinvent the wheel when you’re sitting at No. 1, but I’d argue that there’s no better time to revamp the show, especially after your biggest draw has left (no disrespect to the other co-hosts, but it’s true). With more and more Americans embracing leftist ideas and large numbers of Millennials and Gen Z-ers joining DSA, it’s time for The View to begin thinking about its next 25 years on ABC. If the show hopes to stick around that long, another wishy-washy moderate isn’t gonna cut it.
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.