As they continued to discuss the issue, Hayes pressed Sarandon to see the election as potentially a choice between Clinton and Trump, arguing that Sanders himself would “probably” urge his supporters to vote for her.Most Sarandon critics are describing this as a wealthy white Sandersite letting her privilege run amok -- she's going to be just fine even in the event of a Trump presidency, so heighten those contradictions!
“I think Bernie would probably encourage people, because he doesn’t have any ego in this thing,” Sarandon told him. “But I think a lot of people are, ‘Sorry, I just can’t bring myself to [vote for Clinton].’”
“How about you personally?” Hayes asked.
“I don’t know. I’m going to see what happens,” Sarandon said.
That bit of honesty prompted Hayes to stop in his tracks. “Really?” he asked incredulously.
“Really,” Sarandon said, adding that “some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in, things will really explode.” Asked if she thinks that’s “dangerous,” she replied, “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 the low minimum wage, threats to women’s rights and think you can’t do something huge to turn that around.”
What Sarandon is voicing is the old Leninist idea of “heightening the contradictions,” which holds that social conditions need to get worse in order to inspire the revolution that will make them better. In this way of thinking, the real enemy of progress is incremental reform that would render the status quo tolerable. That was the position of the German Communists in the early 1930s, who refused to ally with the Social Democrats, proclaiming: “After Hitler, our turn!” A similar -- if less deadly -- assumption underlay Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign, for which Sarandon served as co-chair of the national steering committee. George W. Bush, Nader argued then, could serve as a “provocateur,” awakening the power of the left. “If it were a choice between a provocateur and an 'anesthetizer,' I'd rather have a provocateur,” said Nader. “It would mobilize us.”But I don't think that's what she's saying. I think, in her view, Clinton really might not be any worse than Trump, and besides, the contradictions don't actually need heightening because America is on the brink of revolution already. (“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 the low minimum wage, threats to women’s rights....”)
Sarandon apparently think there's a large revolutionary force in America that's on a hair trigger. Big changes are imminent. She says, “some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in, things will really explode.” She says "a lot of people" are likely to reject Clinton in November from the left.
This isn't the arrogance of privilege so much as it's tunnel vision. Sarandon doesn't see an America in which we've simply tolerated a terrible job market, low wages, police brutality, excessive incarceration, and a host of other problems, mostly because we don't know how to fight back or because our efforts to fight back have been futile -- and because most people, including many Democratic voters, don't even want to fight back, because they're not really progressive.
Once again, I'll post that Gallup chart:
In elections, America is more or less evenly Democratic and Republican -- Democrats do better in presidential elections, Republicans do better in other elections -- but there are far more self-described conservatives than liberals. What that means is that many Democratic voters are moderates. They're not ready to take to the streets in response to reactionary or even repressive government -- hell, in recent years they couldn't even vote out incumbent right-wing governors in states like Wisconsin, New Jersey, Maine, Michigan, and Florida, which would have been non-revolutionary change. And these are states Democratic presidential candidates win every four years.
Sarandon doesn't seem to have any idea that the Democratic electorate includes such people -- people who are regular Democratic voters only once every four years, who aren't deeply progressive, and who may even vote Republican when the biggest race is for governor. Her friends are genuine progressives, so she thinks all Democratic voters are.
I wish Sarandon were right about the electorate -- but if she were, our government would already look very different. The problems she thinks are pushing us to the brink of revolt are problems we're not up in arms about, except in small pockets of America. She needs to get out more, and see the rest of the country.