I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. How long? Almost a year, since Susan Sarandon said that she wasn’t sure if she would vote for Clinton in a Clinton/Trump presidential ticket on MSNBC’s Chris Hayes show:
“I think Bernie would probably encourage people [to vote Clinton], because he doesn’t have a lot of ego in this,” she said. “But I think a lot of people are, ‘Sorry, I just can’t bring myself to do that.’” As for herself, “I don’t know. I’m going to see what happens.”
“Really?” an incredulous Hayes asked.
“Some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately,” she replied.
She was wrong about Bernie not having “a lot of ego in this”. Two months later, his ego was in full view when he chose to stay in the race long after Hillary had reached the required number of delegates to win the nomination. In my post, Feeling the Bern, feeling the burn, I wrote:
“…by stubbornly staying in the race he has been, for a long time now, stoking hope with zero chance of it being fulfilled; he has been stoking resentment towards Hillary, even if that has not been his intention. The longer he stays, the harder it’ll be for his supporters to turn away from him towards Hillary, especially because so many of them are young and idealistic. Blinded by anger, they might not realize (or care) that we really need them, along with women and minorities, to beat Donald Trump”.
Of course, she was even more wrong implying that she would vote for Donald Trump. Before this, I had long admired Sarandon for her acting, her intelligence, and her passion for social issues. But, her statement was irresponsible, reckless even. She actually implied that Hillary was worse, or that Trump was better, or both, whichever way you want to analyze it. I was angry. But mostly, I was shocked. I couldn’t reconcile her statement with the image that I had of her.
Months passed, I pushed Sarandon’s statement to the back of my mind. When it would resurface, I would take a more philosophical approach. She was passionately pro-Bernie, and sometimes we say things, even tweet things, in the heat of the moment that we regret later on.
Election Day came and went (horribly). I was too shocked by the results and much later by the daily actions of the new administration to think about Sarandon. I was paying attention to “yuger” things.
Then, I heard about her new appearance on the Chris Hayes show a couple of days ago and I watched it. I had anticipated getting angry because I had read that she was arrogant. But, she had a calm delivery and knowledge of the subject (pipelines). I listened carefully. Rather than arrogant, I found her to be condescending, which I guess it’s a direct product of arrogance.
Facing almost a month of the new presidency and everything that has happened (and not), she refused to examine or discuss her past comments. Instead, she chose to spin. She said that analyzing, blaming people, imagining what should have happened, was a waste of time and energy because what is important is that people are awake now. At times I felt like I was watching Kellyanne Conway, except with dark hair and more intellect. Too bad that Chris Hayes forgot to bring on his Jake Tapper.
Sure, she’s right. People are awake, as awake as someone whose house is on fire and who barely has time to run outside to watch it burn to the ground. Even if a lot of good comes from this awakening, it will be at a steep price. What will be the state of our environment, our schools, our relations with other countries, and our relations with each other, after four years of this administration?
Sarandon was wrong to say what she did a year ago. Words have power. I would argue that words from a beloved celebrity with a long history of social activism have even greater power. In the midst of a campaign where one candidate urged crowds to “lock her up”, and even Sanders, the paragon of probity according to Sarandon, said that Hillary was not qualified to be President; well, in that kind of an environment, words have nuclear strength.
Sarandon is wrong to refuse to examine her past words today. I believe that she does so because she knows that she was wrong. Whether she admits it or not, she’s partly responsible for Hillary’s loss. Yes, probably to a fraction of a fraction of a degree, considering the perfect storm of the Russian hacking, the Comey interference, the Electoral College and all. But this does not absolve her. She contributed to the decades-long negative GOP campaign against Hillary. She also poisoned that well.
There was absolutely no comparison between Hillary & Trump. There was only one choice and she refused to make it, preferring to burn down the house. The fact that she won’t admit her mistake says a lot about her scorched-earth mentality, and much more about her.