Bruce Springsteen has never shied away from expressing his political views onstage and in his music, and the rocker’s most recent interview is no exception — especially when the conversation turned to Donald Trump.
For Esquire‘s December cover story, Springsteen invited the magazine backstage at the Walter Kerr Theater, where he’s in the midst of his Springsteen on Broadway run. The show is a combination of memoir and song, in that the star reads from his own writings about his childhood, his family, his career and his love, and stripped-down musical interludes separate these throws to Springsteen’s memories. Several times, he turns to the Vietnam War, 9/11 and other events that have shaped modern American history and identity, and he took the opportunity to explain his perspective on what’s currently going on in the United States and what Trump and the “dark angels” who support him represent.
“I do feel that people feel under siege, and sometimes for reasons that I don’t agree with and that are unfortunate,” he told Esquire. “Like I say, whether it’s the changing face of the nation or… I think those people legitimately feel under siege. Their way of life is somehow threatened… that’s always been a part of the American story. It continues to be a part of it today.”
He speaks of how “these are times when we’ve also seen folks marching, and in the highest offices of our land, who want to speak to our darkest angels, who want to call up the ugliest and most divisive ghosts of America’s past. And they want to destroy the idea of an America for all. That’s their intention.”
Springsteen then spoke on Trump, specifically, the rise of the alt-right and those “invested in denying the idea of a united America and an America for all.”
“[He] has no interest in uniting the country, really, and actually has an interest in doing the opposite and dividing us, which he does on an almost daily basis.” he continued. “So that’s simply a crime against humanity, as far as I’m concerned. It’s an awful, awful message to send out into the world if you’re in that job and in that position. It’s just an ugly, awful message. You are intentionally trying to disenfranchise a large portion of Americans… And then there’s just the rise of — whether it’s the alt-right or the folks who were marching in Charlottesville with their tiki torches and all of that coming to the fore again, you know? Which our president was more than happy to play into and to play to. So these are folks who are invested in denying the idea of a united America and an America for all. It’s a critical moment. This has come so far to the surface, and it’s so toxic… It’s a scary moment for any conscientious American, I think.”
Still, Springsteen is hopeful that “we’ll survive Trump.” His hope for the future, and a request to his fellow Americans: “Let people view themselves as Americans first, that the basic founding principles of the country could be adhered to, whether it’s equality or social justice. Let people give each other a chance.”
Springsteen on Broadway closes at New York’s Walter Kerr Theater on Dec. 15 and will hit Netflix in the form of a special for the streaming network on Dec. 16.