Posted on Apr 2, 2016
By Alexander Reed Kelly
Every week the Truthdig editorial staff selects a Truthdigger of the Week, a group or person worthy of recognition for speaking truth to power, breaking the story or blowing the whistle. It is not a lifetime achievement award. Rather, we’re looking for newsmakers whose actions in a given week are worth celebrating.
Left-wing voters of principle have endured insults and abuse in this presidential nominating season. A large number of Bernie Sanders supporters—one-third, by some counts—have warned that they will not vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election if she is the Democratic nominee. This prospect has many Democrats terrified, as it would seem to ensure at least four years of rule by Donald Trump or one of his equally repugnant rivals for the Republican nomination, and these Democrats have made no secret of their contempt for such spoilers.
But these voters have a renowned defender in Academy Award-winning actress and activist Susan Sarandon.
On March 28, MSNBC host Chris Hayes told Sarandon on his show, “All In With Chris Hayes”: “In certain quarters there is growing concern that the folks that are into Bernie Sanders have come to despise Hillary Clinton or reject Hillary Clinton, and that should she be the nominee … they will walk away.”
Sarandon did not dismiss these people. “That’s a legitimate concern,” she said, “because they’re very passionate and very principled.
Hayes showed less restraint. “But isn’t that crazy? If you believe in what he believes in?”
Sarandon continued: “Yeah, but she doesn’t. She’s accepted money from all those people. She doesn’t even want to fight for a $15 minimum wage. So these are people that have not come out before, so why would we think they’re going to come out now for her?”
Hayes’ eyes widened in response. “You really think that?” he said. Whether his incredulity was genuine, a performance for the benefit of viewers who feel it themselves or a play to get a dramatic response from his subject, it betrays a lack of touch with the condition of so many Americans, whose day-to-day experiences leave them with no sense of discernible difference between Republican and Democratic rule.
Sarandon spelled it out for Hayes and the show’s audience.
“You know, if you’re a small farmer and you’re worried about fracking on your property—in Idaho they just passed a bill where they can frack on private land—and you know that she’s taken money from [the] fracking [industry], why would you think that she’s gonna have your back?”
Hayes, playing devil’s advocate, replied, “Well, because they make the argument that there are all kinds of politicians—Barack Obama is the one who Hillary Clinton cites all the time—who have done things to effectively rein in industries or reform industries that they’ve taken money from.”
It was Sarandon’s turn to be incredulous. “I’d like to see that ... no, I don’t buy it at all because she’s been selling fracking all over the world. There’s her talking about Monsanto and ... not talking about Roundup and what they put in it or what it’s done to our economy. And they know that jobs are going out. You know, Bernie ... voted against NAFTA, TPP, all these things coming up that they know affect their jobs. And she’s not on the right side of that. She hasn’t voted right. So what would make you think that once she gets in she’s gonna suddenly go against the people that have given her millions and millions of dollars? I think that’s being incredibly naive and egotistical, to think suddenly she’s gonna see the right.”
(By the way, the U.S. Geological Survey determined this week that because of fracking, populations in Oklahoma and Kansas now face, for the first time, a threat of destructive earthquakes equal to those endemic to California. Seven million lives are at risk. “From 1973 to 2008, there was an average of 24 earthquakes of magnitude three or larger per year,” reported The Guardian. “By 2014, this figure had ballooned to 688 earthquakes.”)
What do you think, reader? Do Sarandon’s words recognize and honor your condition or concerns in ways few public figures ever have? Or is her view foreign and possibly repugnant, given the close prospect of a Trump administration?
Might the election of Donald Trump be a blessing (albeit a messy and potentially deadly one) in disguise, exciting the politically passive bourgeoisie to decisive grass-roots action?
“Some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately,” Sarandon offered. “If he gets in, then things will really, you know, explode.”
Said an again incredulous Hayes: “Don’t you think that’s dangerous?”
“I think that what’s going on now—if you think that it’s pragmatic to shore up the status quo right now, then you’re not in touch with the status quo. The status quo is not working. And I think it’s dangerous to think that we can continue the way we are, with the militarized police force, with privatized prisons, with the death penalty, with a low minimum wage, with threats to women’s rights, and think that you can’t do something huge to turn that around, because the country is not in good shape. If you’re in the middle class, it’s disappearing.”
For respecting the mental predicament that may face many of the young, the debt-ridden, and others who see Bernie Sanders as their best chance to reduce their suffering, and for articulating why others should too, we honor Susan Sarandon as our Truthdigger of the Week.