Yesterday in Iowa, at an ice cream social, Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon introduced Senator Bernie Sanders to a crowd on the presidential campaign trail. Sarandon, a fanatical Sanders supporter who famously refused to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016, said of Sanders: “He is not someone who used to be a Republican. ”
On social media, this was interpreted by many as an unnecessary dig against Sander’s closest competitor: Senator Elizabeth Warren. It was made worse by the fact that Sanders has been incredibly careful not to say anything negative about the Massachusetts senator, despite the American media practically begging him to. Predictably, the internet did what it does best and erupted into an anti-Sarandon mob. People were enraged, profanity was used and trolling quickly commenced.
Does Sarandon deserve this treatment? Understandably, many Democrats are no fan of the far-left actress. She supported third party candidate Ralph Nader in 2000 and even more annoyingly Jill Stein in 2016. She made a lot of Democrats very angry when she went off during an interview with the BBC saying: “I don’t vote with my vagina” when talking about Hillary Clinton. Then there was the time she claimed that “Hillary is more dangerous than Trump.” Few lines were more annoying to most Democrats than that one, which practically did Trump’s conspiratorial campaigning for him.
Sarandon’s dig at Warren is made significantly weirder by the fact that she actually tweeted in 2016 “I want a woman to be Pres. The RIGHT woman. Looking at you @SenWarren.” This tweet was likely a troll against Clinton, but it still seems a bit odd in light of Sarandon’s recent political shade at Warren.
And so we arrive at a moment where two things can be true – that Sarandon is deserving of much of the ire towards her, but also that the rage towards Sarandon isn’t actually completely and totally about her. What if some of the Sarandon rage is actually more about the political classes’ collective post traumatic stress disorder from the 2016 election cycle?
Most Americans can tell you where they were on 8 November, 2016. That morning the New York Times had the national polling at Hillary Clinton 45.9 per cent to Donald Trump’s 42.8 per cent. But by 2:35am Clinton had called Trump to concede. The events that transpired during those hours were filled with shock for many Americans, even Trump himself.
Afterwards there was weeping in the streets and even news anchors seemed shocked by the results. We were a country completely dismayed by our own electorate. The days, weeks and months after the 2016 election were followed by an endless blame game and then numerous articles and books about how Trump won. We were a country that couldn’t make sense of itself. We were a country that thought of itself in one way and then elected a dim-witted reality television host with a slew of sexual assault accusations and a history of racism to the highest office in the land. We were a country in shock.
But the American people are still in shock. We haven’t really gotten over the weird election of 2016, but oddly the person who seems the most stuck on the 2016 election is Trump. Yesterday, a mere 1014 days since he won the presidency, Trump tweeted that “Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election!” Maybe someone can explain to me what that strange tweet – which was quickly refuted by Clinton – means, but either way it is a sign that Trump was still very much stuck on the 2016 election that made him president. Yes, Trump still talks about “crooked Hillary Clinton” at his rallies because even he has PTSD from the 2016 election – and he won.
Susan Sarandon is but a symptom of a schism in the Democratic Party – and it is way too early to know whether this schism will resolve itself or not. Sarandon did not make Trump president, but she’s still extremely annoying to a lot of Democrats. Many are enraged at her, but perhaps some of that rage is actually an expression of their larger fear that 2020 will turn out as badly as 2016. After all, Trump is a terrible president and another four years of his rule would be an absolute disaster for all of America and perhaps the world.
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