Two weeks ago, actress and vocal Bernie Sanders supporter Susan Sarandon got on television and told the world that she might prefer Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton and that she might, in fact, vote for him. The reason? “Some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in, things will really explode.”
This is insane.
For one thing, I and many other Americans aren’t actually certain what “revolution” Sanders is trying to create. Getting more young people to vote? Improving campaign finances? Eliminating Super-PACs? Sanders wants to do many things, most of them admirable, but he still hasn’t detailed a cogent “revolution.” Unlike Black Lives Matter, he hasn’t issued concrete demands or initiated plans to create them. He’s simply running on a campaign of, “These are the things I want, and if you elect me, we will get them and the revolution will happen.” What revolution?
For another, it is dangerous to advocate for explosive social change. Even if citizens storm Capitol Hill and kick out all Republicans/politicians associated with big industries, there’s no guarantee that life will become better. Bloody, chaotic revolutions often lead to governmental or vigilante crackdowns where society is ruled not so much by the people but by violent, charismatic individuals. With no strong legal structure in place, rights are more easily violated. Remember the 1979 Iran Revolution where the people rose against the Shah? Remember how they ended thousands of years of monarchy, only to have it replaced by a religious oligarchy? Remember how citizens lost fundamental rights such as a right to trial, a right to free speech, and a right to gender equality? Iran is still feeling the reverberations of that revolution. Is that truly what we want in America?
While bloody revolution seems appealing – Who doesn’t want the chance to be a hero? – it’s not a viable method of change. It creates chaos and mistrust. It encourages people to get wrapped up in their emotions. It disenfranchises people. It destroys societies, often for decades. If there is a reasonable alternative to it, we should seek it out.
Finally, Ms. Sarandon’s championing of revolution is, if sincere, still hypocritical. She is a rich, white woman with international connections. If her “revolution” happens peacefully, she gets to claim to be an orchestrator. If it happens bloodily, she can hide herself behind her magnetized gates or fly off in a private airplane. She won’t have to endure violence in the streets, police officers shooting and harassing her, her neighborhood getting bombed, gangs attacking her family, or having her rights stripped from her. If things turn messy, she can run. She has no business telling other people to get themselves killed.
The response to all of this is, “Something must change. We cannot keep things as they are. We’re reaching a boiling point.” But are we? In the past year, numerous groups have successfully lobbied for and achieved a higher, more livable minimum wage. The Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage legal. The ACLU successfully sued county clerks that wouldn’t do their job. The Panama Papers have exposed corruption in our government. The Affordable Care Act has reached millions of formally uninsured people. Black Lives Matter has become a powerful movement capable of swaying prominent politicians. Positive change is happening. More Americans are speaking out against money in politics, and more politicians are speaking with them. As a country, we are moving forward. I just don’t think we’re at the powder keg moment Ms. Sarandon thinks we are.
So I’d like all of you to carefully consider the situation. Try not to let fear, paranoia, and irritation blind you to reality. Don’t think that flashy solutions can fix everything. Understand that good, positive change takes hard work. It takes decades toiling away in Congress, millions of dollars, and thousands of man-hours. Throwing a match at all of that won’t make the work go faster or improve the situation – it will only launch you back to square one. So make a good choice – don’t vote for an explosion, vote for a better future.
* Photo taken from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/susan-sarandon-not-vote-vagina-article-1.2536095