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The strange thing is that both Susan Sarandon and Debra Messing are right about Trump

Would women have been so angry and ready to run for office had Hillary Clinton been elected? Would we have seen Cynthia Nixon running for New York governor and victories such as that of 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? We need both hope and anger to move forward

The latest 'catfight' isn't quite what it seems
The latest 'catfight' isn't quite what it seems

Everyone loves a catfight. They do well for clicks and ratings, and they satisfy misogynists who believe that women really are nastier and bitchier than men. That’s why we heard so much about Kim Cattrall revealing she really didn’t think much of Sarah Jessica Parker, or when Kim Woodburn walked off the set of Loose Women.

For this reason, it was no surprise to see the headlines swarming over the latest tweets from Debra Messing, the actor in Will & Grace, who told Susan Sarandon to “shut the f**k up” because Sarandon claimed Trump’s election and presidency has “inspired more women and people of colour to run for office”.

“STFU SUSAN,” she wrote on Twitter. “Oh yes, PLEASE let’s give Trump CREDIT. I mean how else are you able to walk out on the street. Convince yourself that that this CATASTROPHE of a President who you said was better that HRC IS NOT ripping children away from parents seeking asylum, holding children.”

Sarandon has got many people’s hackles up as she supported Bernie Sanders and opposed Hillary Clinton in 2016. But Messing’s capital letters ignore the nuance of Sarandon’s argument and create a disastrous false equivalence – saying you like the fact that women are running for office does not mean you support Trump’s immigration stance or any other policy.

In the interview with Variety which Messing referenced, Sarandon had rightly pointed out that the governors of Maryland, Florida and Georgia may well soon be women and women of colour.

Susan Sarandon says Hillary Clinton is 'more dangerous' than Donald Trump

We should be celebrating good news, because progress is so hard-won. More than 40,000 women in the US have expressed interest in running for office since the 2016 election, according to Emily’s List, a political action committee focused on enlisting pro-choice female candidates for office, compared to less than 1,000 women in the last election cycle.

There are so many women running and winning, in fact, that Dave Wasserman, house editor of the Cook Political Report, said 2018 might come to be remembered as the “Year of the Angry College-Educated Female”.

Would women have been so angry and ready to run for office had Hillary Clinton been elected? Would we have seen Cynthia Nixon running for New York governor and victories such as that of 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Anger is a specific and necessary force to bring about social change – it’s the kind of thing that causes Stephen Bannon to worry.

Anger is the lifeblood of the women’s marches, and the MeToo and TimesUp movements, and it’s what often encourages victims of abuse to speak out. It’s also the kind of emotion that prompts well-known actors to lose their calm on social media just because another woman looks for a silver lining in a terrible situation.

But we need both Sarandon’s hope and Messing’s anger to progress. One is pretty useless without the other. If you are angry about Trump ripping families apart at the US border, then presumably you are hopeful that can change in the future. If you are hopeful for change, then you probably don’t like what’s happening in the first place.

There are plenty of us who don’t like what’s happening. Ever since Trump held his hand over the Bible on a grey day in Washington DC last January and gave a speech that Clinton described as a “cry from the white nationalist gut”, the rumour mill over who would be running for president in 2020 has gone into overdrive. So who to put our money on? Once we’d given up hope on Michelle Obama, we started looking at female senators such as Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris, who Trump has personally targeted, as well as the old stalwarts such as Joe Biden, who Trump reckons he could have a fight with, the New York lawyer of Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti (not so keen on that one but that’s for another article), and there have even been rumours of various celebrities throwing their hat in the ring, including Oprah, Chelsea Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg.

It won’t be an easy race. The pendulum of American politics is well-documented: very few presidents only last for one term – George H W Bush losing to Bill Clinton in 1992 was the last one. Plus, Trump has already filed his paperwork for 2020.

But the dream is not dead. In that now notorious Variety interview, Sarandon pointed to a Leonard Cohen quote, “There is a crack in everything /That’s how the light gets in.” She has a right to be hopeful, and to take inspiration from the nearest to social revolution that America has seen since the Vietnam War. We are now looking to the midterms and 2020 – and we need both hope and anger to get us there.

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