The fates are smiling on third-party presidential candidate Gary Johnson this week. It once seemed that the libertarian darling stood no chance against the organizational heft and overflowing coffers of the Trump and Clinton machines, that nothing short of a miracle could land him in the White House. Unfortunately, miracles are made-up—but, luckily for Johnson, magic is real.
That must be why Johnson named Melissa Joan Hart, the titular sorceress of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, chairperson of his campaign’s Connecticut office. The former Clarissa Explains It All star has her work cut out for her with this latest pickle. But if Johnson can’t muster the polling numbers he needs to make it into the presidential debates, surely Clarissa can cook up one of her hare-brained schemes to get him on the stage! And while she’s at it, perhaps she can explain to the candidate what Aleppo is and why colonizing other planets is not a valid contingency plan for dealing with climate change.
Hart, who labels herself a conservative and supported Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, made first contact with the Johnson campaign earlier this year to see how she could help the former New Mexico governor’s cause. She told People that her reasons for supporting Johnson include his residence near-ish Mexico and his former employment as a governor, which is almost like a wittle bitty president:
“Governors, I love, because they already ran their state as like a little president,” Hart, 40, says. “So he gets the way, you know, things run. The politics of it all.” She adds, “He was on a border state, so if you want to talk about immigration, he’s the guy.”
It may come as a shock to some Hart fans that their favorite mishap-prone kook next door has such a facile understanding of American government that she’s willing to throw her considerable supernatural powers behind a protest candidate, and thus, Donald Trump. But if you didn’t see this coming, you weren’t paying close enough attention to Hart’s career. Clarissa was always caught in the cultural chasm between her cold-hearted Republican brother, Ferguson, and her doofy best friend on a ladder, Sam, a proto–Bernie bro. Likewise, Sabrina spent her formative years waffling between the Other Realm and the mortal world. The former was helmed by a mercurial, borderline-fascist Witches Council that frowned upon mixed-magic marriages and delighted in draconian punishments for petty offenses. The latter was populated by real, complex people, logical solutions to problems, and facts. Libertarians like Hart are often thought to have a foot in each.
But Johnson isn’t quite so middle-of-the-road. Johnson’s radical free-market economic proposals would dismantle the social safety net and hobble a country still recovering from a devastating recession—a classic Witches Council move. His response to the climate crisis, which boils down to “¯\_(ツ)_/¯, the sun is gonna swallow us up someday anyway,” demonstrates a capacity for nihilism few mortals could muster. Johnson is as deep into the Other Realm as any Quizmaster could hope to be.
Hart’s last project, Melissa & Joey, might be the best analogy for the campaign she’s helping to lead. The sitcom was a forgettable, transparent last-ditch vehicle for the faltering careers of its teen-famous costars, Hart and Joey Lawrence. It never had a shot at winning an Emmy; it was just something to groan over when nothing else was on. If it seems like an OK thing to watch for four years, that’s only because one of the other two things currently on TV is the video from The Ring.