Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life
(RKO Radio Pictures)

In What World Is Donald Trump Anything Like It’s A Wonderful Life’s George Bailey?

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Every Christmas, George Bailey reminds me that I’m important to someone in this world. The messaging behind It’s A Wonderful Life is one of hope. Jimmy Stuart’s character George Bailey feels as if this world would be better if he’d never been born, and Clarence the angel shows him that that isn’t the case. George’s brother would have drowned, his wife Mary would have never found love, and everyone he helped stay away from the evil banker, Mr. Potter, fell victim to his capitalist ways. So in the grand scheme of our world, if we’re making comparisons to It’s a Wonderful Life, Donald Trump is most definitely Mr. Potter.

“Self-employed entrepreneur” Natalie Harp, who spoke Monday night at the Republican National Convention, compared Trump to George Bailey because she credits the Trump-backed “Right to Try” law, which is meant to help patients gain access to drugs the FDA has not yet approved for any use, with helping provide her with a cancer treatment she couldn’t have received otherwise. (Like most situations lionizing Trump, experts say that this was not actually the case, and that the drug Harp received was already approved. Harp’s treatment appears to have been a case of “off-label” use.)

The Washington Post further notes that “It is also striking that two months before Trump even signed the law, Harp had already spoken online about receiving her new treatment.” And of course, the law itself appears to be mostly smoke and mirrors.

“The problem is it’s a classic case of Trump demagoguery. It sounds good — cutting red tape and saving lives — but at the root of it there’s nothing there,” said Peter Lurie, former top official of the Food and Drug Administration, now president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “The FDA already had a process that approved more than 90 percent of people who wanted access to these drugs and treatments.”

But Harp had a narrative to push at the RNC, and push it she did. “In the classic Jimmy Stewart film It’s A Wonderful Life, George Bailey is given a great gift – the chance to see what the world would be like without him. Tonight Mr. President, we’d like to give you that same gift, because without you we’d all be living in Pottersville, sold out to a crooked Mr. – or I should say Mrs. – Potter with no hope of escape except death itself.”

Now here’s the problem: Literally over my dead body would I let anyone sully the name of George Bailey (and by extension Jimmy Stewart) with this half-assed comparison. That movie shows the brilliant work that George Bailey did for Bedford Falls and how he took on the evil businessman who only cared about money. It’s the anti-Donald Trump story.

Harp’s tale resulted in Jimmy Stewart’s daughter Kelly Stewart Harcourt sending a response to The New York Times coming out in defense of George Bailey. Kelly Stewart Harcourt simply explained the message of It’s A Wonderful Life—and I’m kind of obsessed with how scathing her response is, to not just Natalie Harp but the entire Trump campaign as a whole.

In her speech at the G.O.P. convention Monday night, Natalie Harp, a cancer survivor, made reference to the film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” comparing Donald Trump to George Bailey, the main character in the film, played by my father, Jimmy Stewart.

Given that this beloved American classic is about decency, compassion, sacrifice and a fight against corruption, our family considers Ms. Harp’s analogy to be the height of hypocrisy and dishonesty.

I love George Bailey with my whole heart. If a man wanted to throw a lasso around the moon for me, I’d fall head over heels and a lot of that is due to Jimmy Stewart. Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, I watched as George Bailey saw what a world without him would look like and how an evil businessman would ruin his family and the town he loved, and every Christmas I was reminded that the world is better with decent, compassionate people.

These false comparisons of Donald Trump to George Bailey are not to be taken lying down, and I think this goes to show just how Trump supporters view themselves and Donald Trump: through a lens filled with lies and deception. Anyway, Trump is a failing Mr. Potter and that’s that.

(via Deadline, image: RKO Radio Pictures)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.