Sleepy Susan Sarandon And What It Means To Be “Awake”

Last night, Susan Sarandon, a leftist actress who infamously helped get Tr-mp elected, appeared on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes.” I wish Hayes had been tougher on her (especially after she asked him, “You consider yourself a journalist, right?”), but that’s not really his style. He did, though, manage to get her to say a couple of things that I want to address, mostly because I’m still pissed at so many people on the left who, because they hated Hillary Clinton so much, didn’t give a damn about the pain and suffering many people will have to endure under Tr-mpism. Some of those Hillary-hating leftists weren’t too worried about any pain and suffering because they are financially or culturally insulated from it, which makes what they did all the more reprehensible.susan sarandon.jpg

First, Sarandon had something to say to people like me, people who have attacked her for stupid statements like cavalierly suggesting Tr-mp would bring on a much-needed “revolution” and who still blame her and others for curbing the enthusiasm for Hillary among so many young voters. Sarandon asked, “Really? That’s where we want to spend our time and energy?” Well, yes. At least a small amount of time and energy.

Most of the substantive talk last night kept coming back to the Dakota Access Pipeline and fracking. Okay. Those are important issues. And they seem to be the pet issues of people like Sarandon. But guess what? To people of color in danger of being further disenfranchised, to poor and working people in need of assistance, to sick people in need of health care, to women worried about their reproductive freedoms, to undocumented immigrants being rounded up like cattle, to those who depend on Social Security and Medicare to survive, the issues of fracking and pipelines are way down their list of things to worry about, especially since Sarandon helped get a man elected who doesn’t give a damn about the environment, who, as Hayes asserted, wants to “frack the entire country.”

As for me, in a time when our democratic institutions are under assault by a deranged Agent Orange in the White’s House, the construction of another pipeline just doesn’t seem like a reason to set what’s left of my hair on fire. And as dangerous as fracking is in some places, it appears to me that the existential crisis our Republic faces needs to be the first priority for all of us who care about how this frightening drama ends.

In the context of making a choice last November, Chris Hayes asked Sarandon, “Do you feel like you properly appreciated what a Donald Trump presidency would be?” Here is her reply:

I think that I absolutely feel that talking about blaming people for what happened is really wasting your time and energy. Because what we have now is a populous that is awake.

Well, some of us were never asleep. Some of us warned the intellectually sleepy Sarandons of the world about the dangers of the game they were playing. And some people who are awake now are awake because their lives are in jeopardy due to the actions of people like Susan Sarandon. So, no, it is not a complete waste of time and energy to talk about “blaming people for what happened.” Figuring out how we got in this mess is part of what it means to be “awake.”

And make no mistake about it: Susan Sarandon and Russia-backed Jill Stein and other un-awake people on the left helped get us into this mess by playing with fire, by helping elect a dangerous, delusional man who, if we are lucky, will be booted out of office before he really does frack us all.

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10 Comments

  1. Amen. Also, have we figured out the whole Jill Stein thing? It is really bothering me to see her face at the same table as Gen. Flynn at the Russia dinner. How has the press ignored her presence at that dinner and then her “attempts” at finding irregularities at the poles directly after the election? This is really bothering me – does it bother anyone else?

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    • Dawn,

      It bothered the hell out of me and still does.

      Not only did the press ignore Stein’s appearance at that RT celebration with Flynn and Putin, the Clinton campaign, as far as I could tell, did too. Maybe the campaign’s strategy was to ignore her and not antagonize any further some of her supporters who they thought might come over at the last minute. It was Green Party folks in Russia who were highly and rightly critical of Stein for not only celebrating Putin but for not mentioning his human rights record while she was in Russia. Good for them. They know what real authoritarianism looks like (Putin) as opposed to what American leftists think it is (the Democratic Party in bed with the GOP).

      And the recount nonsense, which brought in a lot of cash, was fishy from the start and made no sense to anyone, including Green Party extremists here in the U.S., some of whom criticized Stein for trying to help Clinton (!) and for authenticating what they believe was a phony Russian hacking scandal (they call it “red-baiting). Stein later admitted that some of the recall petitions she filed did mention the Russian interference only because they needed “valid” reasons for the recounts that state officials would see as “legitimate,” indicating that Stein herself did not believe that the Russians had anything to do with the hacking. (In at least one case, an initial filing in one state used the Russian hacking as an argument then omitted it.)

      We need to understand one thing about the American Green Party and Stein and other leftist extremists: they hate Democrats as much or more as they hate Republicans. I follow some of them and read their posts and tweets. One would think Barack Obama were the real villain on nearly every issue. Stein herself said during the campaign that Clinton would actually be worse than Tr-mp on foreign policy. It all makes me sick and I won’t have anything to do with these zealots. Any attempt to convince them of how stupid is their strategy—they actually think they can build the Green Party up into a viable alternative to the Democratic Party—will fail. They are as hard-headed as any Tea Party right-winger you ever met.

      On this front, our efforts need to be directed at young people who are more easily influenced by zealots on both sides, particularly, though, zealots on the left who refuse to see how the real world of politics works. We need to tell younger voters that the only way to bring realistic liberal policies to a divided America is to support the Democratic Party, the only viable alternative to the reactionary GOP.  We need to convince them not to throw rocks at people in the party trying to do good and not to throw away their votes on reprehensible egomanaical extremists like Jill Stein.

      For the record (as you can see this issue bothers me a lot) Bernie Sanders went far too long during the primary campaign undermining Hillary and the party, to the point that in some crucial cases in some crucial states he couldn’t undo what he did, in terms of getting younger voters to ignore the negative narrative about Hillary and the party, a narrative that Jill Stein viciously promoted over and over and still does.

      In the end, somewhere around 77,000 votes across three states gave us what we see on our screens every day. I particularly hold leftists like Stein significantly responsible for what happened, even though there were obviously other reasons. I won’t forget their role in what happened, and Democrats should give up trying to appeal to the American far left. We need to advance liberal—left-of-center—policies and goals and educate people, especially young people not familiar with the dynamics of American politics, that the kind of change we need won’t come in just one election.

      Duane

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      • I agree with you so much on this response – especially the part about being influenced by zealots. What bothers me the most, I think, about human reaction to extremism is the fact that too often those denouncing it wind up pushing their own form of extremism. Just because it’s what you believe in doesn’t make it any less extreme, no matter what the issue may be (politics, religion, education, whatever). While I believe there is a real need for voices from both ends of the spectrum, in my opinion what makes democracy work is the fact that leaders listen to all sides of an argument and then make attempts to compromise with all interested parties in an effort to provide good policies for the MAJORITY of the population. With the advent of the Tea Party and the money its supporters (in the form of wealthy business owners through PACs) have thrown at the Republican party such compromise has become pretty much non-existent and has hurt our country by giving us the likes of Tr_mp and Greitens. It’s very frustrating and upsetting.

        Also, I see in my Twitter feed (where I pretty much get all my news these days…) that there is a movement to call out Dr. Stein and her involvement with Putin. Maybe we are on to something here.

        Lastly, I realize now that I misspelled “polls”. Such a rookie mistake…. :-O

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        • Dawn,

          First, there is nothing more horrifying than noticing you misspelled a word and can do nothing about it. That has happened to me so many times but I’m still bothered by it, especially now that WordPress has messed with the text editor so much that the spellcheck sometimes is on and sometimes isn’t. I type so fast that I often misspell words. I expect the editor to catch those mistakes but it often doesn’t. If I forget to run a manual check, it’s a nightmare. 

          In any case, to your point. What the extremists on both sides fail to understand is that our country is several countries in one. Rural folks want many of the same things as city people, but they also have some different views about the world that they want expressed in public policy. And vice-versa. Same with white people versus people of color who have longstanding grievances against a system that still has legacy costs associated with it. Same with men versus women who need their reproductive rights protected, else they will never fully own their own bodies.

          We all don’t get the country we want because we have to live in it with people who want a different kind of country. Compromise, in a country as large and diverse as ours, is absolutely essential. Just so long as some fundamental rights are always observed (like, say, free speech and the right of women to manage their own bodies) we can make the system work. Thus, the most fundamental thing of all to understand is that our peculiar system can only work, in fact it was designed to work, by compromise. It’s a hard slog toward progress that way, but that’s just the way it is. Oddly, when leftists refuse to see how incremental progress is made in America, when they refuse to play the long game, they are aiding and abetting the reactionaries. It has always been so. 

          Duane

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          • So true, and so difficult to understand – even by someone as open-minded and somewhat educated as myself. Until I moved to our present city 1991 I had lived in so many places that the longest time I spent in one city was when I attended college. So, I’ve seen diversity. And I enjoy it. But it also frightened me because, you know, diversity is different. Ironically, it wasn’t until I moved to the most non-diverse place I’ve ever lived (here) that I realized how racism is still rampant in our country and how untruthful racist beliefs are (not to mention how deeply engrained they are in my own sub-culture). It is a real awakening when one realizes one’s own shortcomings. I find your observation about our country particularly interesting because I was actually reading a piece that addresses some of the issues you mention just before I read your response. I think you will find it both interesting and informative, so I’m sharing it with you: https://bitchmedia.org/article/some-us-are-brave-0

            I think I will use your analysis in future conversations with younger activists. You do a very good job explaining the challenge leaders face in governing our country, as well as the source of frustration for so many groups and organizations working to move our country – and society – in a historically forward direction.

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        • Dawn,

          Thanks so much for that link. I, for one, need to be exposed to that point of view. It makes me think. It is refreshing and, I must admit, mostly accurate (although I would quibble with some of the details, like how to completely avoid, practically speaking, “self-reverential, non-intersectional feminism”; I also don’t think the answer is to “turn down Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham,” but to, as suggested, “turn up” feminists of color and make them part of the mix—all voices should be heard loudly and proudly; other objections I have are below).

          When I was a church-going conservative, a saying that went around my circle of believers, a restive bunch, was: “If you find the perfect church, don’t join it or you’ll ruin it.” Feminism should be feminism no matter the color of the women or men involved. But, alas, none of us are perfect enough to belong to a movement without bringing with us our own biased baggage that will infect the whole. This applies to white women. And it applies to women of color. The problem in human relations always seems to be that we tend to ignore the fact that others bring to the table experiences we don’t understand or want to accept as having quite the same validity or urgency as our own. We too often elevate our own wisdom—which is hard-earned from our experiences—above that of others.

          Such, too, is the problem with those who criticize the Democratic Party. Ms. Harris, the author of the article you cited, said that the party “is the only major party that actively works toward equity for marginalized people.” There is absolutely no doubt about that. But she followed that statement of fact with this:

          It is important to note here that the party often lags on supporting the issues crucial to its most loyal members—issues like mass incarceration, income inequality, police brutality, and trans rights. It is assumed that we will become allies—at least every four years—to ensure folks like Trump and the odious Mike Pence don’t get their hands on all of our rights. In theory, as Hillary Clinton said, we are “stronger together.”

          First, I don’t think “the party” lags behind on supporting the issues she named. I think the dynamics of American politics prohibits a lot of progress on those issues, which makes it looks like Democrats aren’t prioritizing them. I can think of many prominent Democrats who have addressed mass incarceration, income inequality, police brutality and trans rights. But these Democrats are not fighting in a vacuum. They have reactionaries on the other side who refuse to budge an inch. That reality needs to be recognized by activists who, for very good reasons, want action on all of those important issues. It would be easy to take the ground ahead if there were no one there to stop you. It’s much harder when roughly half the country doesn’t want you to advance.

          Second, I think it is right for the Democratic establishment, which is actively trying to move “toward equity for marginalized people,” to expect that the marginalized people they are fighting for be their allies, even if, as in the case of this past election, it is sometimes only to fight off the Tr-mps and Pences. I don’t understand the reluctance to ally with those who are on our side, even if our side is playing defense because of the peculiar dynamics of American politics. Like sports or, more seriously, warfare, not all beneficial actions are offensive. Defense is a necessary component of any winning strategy, when you have adversaries out there who oppose your every move and have an offensive strategy of their own. That is what I think so many zealots on the left missed this election and, frankly, will miss in every election to come. The perfect, for them, is always the enemy of the good.

          Again, thanks for the link (I’m now a subscriber!) and sorry for the length of this reply. All this is near and dear to me and I can’t seem to stop once I get started.

          Duane

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  2. Sarandon is what we used to call an “airhead” in my hippie days. Her “revolution” comment when she was on Chris Hayes’s show before the election sounded like something a 17-year-old would say. And her avoidance of Hayes’s questions about her contribution to getting Trump elected with statements like, “Really, that’s where we want to spend our time and energy” reminded me of the tactics Alternate Facts Conway uses to avoid answering questions she doesn’t like. I’m glad Sarandon is finally “awake” — too bad she wasn’t before the election.

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    • I never thought about the comparison between Sarandon and Conway and the whole alternate facts thing. But there are a lot of similarities between the two approaches.

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  3. On must be very careful not to fall prey to the “halo” effect, most especially with celebrities. That means that because a person is really good at one thing (acting, in this case) we attribute to them equal skills in another area (politics in this case). One could say that the halo effect is what got Tr-mp elected; because he seemed to be a good businessman, his supporters thought he would be a good President. We now know how wrong that assumption was, if you couldn’t figure it out from his behavior before he was elected.

    I’m going to guess that Susan is pretty awake when she’s acting, playing a role. When I listen to her political views, I am reminded of a song from my youth, “Wake Up, Little Susie, Wake Up!” by the Everly Brothers, I think.

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