Bruce Springsteen has made his feelings on President Trump very clear in the past. But in a new interview with The Atlantic, The Boss paints a most dire picture of what he fears will become of the nation if the President gets re-elected in November.
“I don’t think anybody truly knows where we’re going from here yet,” Springsteen says in response to a question about whether he’s feeling optimistic or pessimistic about the marching in the streets that has been going on for the past three weeks in the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of the Minneapolis police.
“It depends on too many unknowns. We don’t know where the COVID virus is going to take us. We don’t know where Black Lives Matter is going to take us right now. Do we get a real practical conversation going about race and policing and ultimately about the economic inequality that’s been a stain on our social contract?”
An even great concern for the 70-year-old rock icon is what’s going to happen in the next election, in which Trump will face off with former Vice President Joe Biden. “I believe that our current president is a threat to our democracy,” he says of Trump. “He simply makes any kind of reform that much harder. I don’t know if our democracy could stand another four years of his custodianship. These are all existential threats to our democracy and our American way of life.”
Springsteen, who kicked off the latest episode of his SiriusXM show “From My Home to Yours” with a scathing message to Trump to “put on a f–king mask,” tells the magazine that it would be easy to fall into pessimism, but he’s looking for a silver lining. He’s hopeful that there will be a COVID-19 vaccine soon and finds an upside to a giant Black Lives Matter mural painted on the street leading to the White House. And he is buoyed by images of white, Black and brown people gathering together in the “enraged name of love.”
Those are all good signs. Plus, he doesn’t hate that Trump’s poll numbers are taking a precipitous nose dive, after what he believes is a “presidential tipping point” set off by Trump’s now-infamous walk through Lafayette Square during which peaceful demonstrators were pepper sprayed and pushed back in order to make way for a photo op in front of a church. “Which was so outrageously anti-American, so totally buffoonish and so stupid, and so anti–freedom of speech,” Springsteen says. “And we have a video of it that will live on forever.”
What makes him feel most optimistic, though, is watching all the young people in the street, as well as the demonstrations they’ve inspired around the world, which he thinks will ultimately be about more than Floyd and police violence against American citizens.
The interview also finds Springsteen talking about whether we’ve made any progress on racial equality and why the President’s “march to St. John’s [church]” to pose with a Bible with his “phony all-white contingent” just didn’t look real. “Because it wasn’t real. That is not the America of today,” he says. “That culture, which keeps Black people invisible, is gone. In the present moment, if Black people are not visible, that’s not acceptable. And I think that’s a sign of progress. When you see the Democratic side of the House filled with brown people and Black people, straight people and gay people, and then you look at the Republicans, who appear unchanged by history at this moment? They look ridiculous. And despite their current power, they look like a failing party.”
The interview is accompanied by Springsteen’s “Playlist for the Trump Era,” which includes such landmark songs of protest and uplift as Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” Patti Smith’s “People Have the Power” and his own “That’s What Makes Us Great.”
Check it out below.