Tuesday, March 29, 2016


On MSNBC last night, Susan Sarandon, in her role as a Bernie Sanders surrogate, told Chris Hayes she's not sure she'd vote for Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump in a general election:
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.

“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.”
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!
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.


Unknown said...

If you click through to that first link, there's a picture of Ralph Nader in 2000 (ooh, scary!) holding his hands up in front of him.

Noticeably long fingers. Just sayin'.

AllieG said...

I don't think anyone has ever said "as Sarandon goes, so goes the nation."

Four Bs said...

I'd like to arrange a bus trip for her and some of my Facebook friends.

Sherry Reson said...

That is one depressing Gallup chart.

Victor said...

It is what it is...

We are NOT some liberal bastion of a country!

Back in the 70's, when I was a kid, I thought I was a bit left of center. Not too much, but more to the left than any e I knew.

Within a few years of Reagan, I felt so far to the left, that I was looked upon as tongue-kissing Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Fidel - and I basically stayed the same in ideology, it was the rest of the country that went Reich-wing!

So, as much as I love and respect her as actor, she's fucking nuts when it comes to politics!

Feud Turgidson said...

“It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.”
- JM Keynes

"Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead."
- JM Keyes

A lot of Americans claiming to "be" or "lean" "conservative" either don't understand what that means, or are expressing a preference for some largely imagined past. If issue tests were used here, like Social Security, Medicare, right of access to emergency medical care, public tax supported policing, fire fighting, prosecution, motor vehicle licensing, testing and inspections, road construction and maintenance, airports and air traffic controls, development and building standards, waterways maintenance and monitoring, the CDC, increasing the ACA, etc etc etc, using those as markers to delineate between being misguided about what conservatism entails OTOH and OTO things they like or feel they need or even have a right to, and want to keep, many of those amount to socialism and government guidance and oversight to protect individual Americans and groups of them from lives that are nasty, brutal and short. Cutting out the chaff from the sterile wheat of conservatism that way would show that the actual percentage of 'truly ideological conservatives' reduces to a number really not all that different from the incidence of serious mental illness in the U.S. adult population at a given point. The rest comes down to variations in local cultural norms and personal and social pressures to conform.

And when people are isolated from the crowd, no matter how heavily that crowd is infected with ideologues, idiots, ignoramuses, accommodationists, settlers, bigots, misogynists, fascists, the craven, the perverse, and indeed the entire line-up from Hedley LaMarr's List ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km7WD8wkb1c ), people can be plenty flat scared stupid on their own.

If I think back on all the fools I knew in high school
Who could barely form up for alarm drills ...

AllieG said...

People hate change, as it implies entropy. So a plurality will probably always identify as "conservative."

jsrtheta said...

I hope she isn't right about the electorate. This kind of thinking does lead to "Our turn!" fantasizing, and that can lead to a revolution most people don't want at the hands of people who care nothing about that because "they know better".

And yes, some of this is privilege: The privilege of seriously imagining you are not only right, but have some sort of right to impose your ideology on a majority that doesn't want it.

This is also profoundly unconstitutional, at variance with the entire philosophy that gave this country life. If someone thinks that's necessary, then say so. Admit your intention is the overthrow and the discarding of our nation's governing principles. Oh, and full disclosure: You might get killed in the process. Once you "Cry havoc!", the dogs of war that will be unleashed won't all be yours, and those that aren't will be going for your throat.

sligowoman said...

I do not agree at all , I am around people every day who are very ready for the revolution. They have not had a raise in forever and the cost of living and esp college keeps going up . The labels do not describe the reality ... just ask the questions properly e.g. " do you agree that Social Security should be reduced ? Do you think Medicare should cover all ages ? .... when the questions are asked in a straightforward manner the answers bear out liberal solutions . Bernie is the only politician I have known of in my time in USA who I would TRUST absolutely with the reins of this country .

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

It's getting harder for people to escape those pockets of Sanders supporters out there these days -- national poll figures from this week show Sanders now leads Clinton among women, men under age 30, whites, Hispanics, blacks under 30, and 'other'; also among LGBT, and those with income less than $50K. Some of Sanders supporters likely told Gallup they think of themselves as 'moderates', or might today tell them differently.

Luigi said...

Thank you. There is no revolution coming. The Bernie Bros are just Obama Holey Changers seven years later. Anybody but Hillary, they cry, because our new world order is just right around the corner. I was just reading on Boo about Kent State & May 4, 1970. I was a much dirtier hippy at the time. Nothing changed then.

Philo Vaihinger said...

She reminds me of the sixties radicals who seriously thought there was going to be a leftist revolution in America.

Makes perfect sense she'd support Bernie, who blathers meaninglessly about a "political revolution" but is no more candid about what that means than he is about his own commitment to socialism.

There are a damned sight more potential brownshirts in America than potential red revolutionaries.

And those brownshirts are all lining up with Trump.