Jim Carrey has channeled his rage over President Trump and the Republican Party into outrageous political cartoons. His Dumb and Dumber co-star prefers words.
Jeff Daniels went on MSNBC on Monday afternoon presumably to promote his Tony Award-nominated performance as Atticus Finch in Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. But while he was there he delivered a critique of the right that left host and “recovering Republican” Nicolle Wallace nearly speechless.
In a soliloquy on the state of the Republican Party in 2019 that evoked Will McAvoy, his righteous news anchor character from Sorkin’s The Newsroom, Daniels pulled no punches. He explained that in both Harper Lee’s book and the play, Atticus Finch believes that the people “on the other side” don’t all have “bad intentions,” but that that notion is “being challenged now.”
Calling Atticus an “apologist” and an “enabler,” the Michigan native said, “I think there are people in the Midwest, between the coasts, who don’t care about this, don’t have time for this, who have to make a decision now. You have to decide whether, like Atticus, you believe that there is still compassion, decency, civility, respect for others. Do unto others, remember that?”
If the Democrats end up losing the election to Trump in November 2020, he added, “it’s the end of democracy.”
Speaking about the “mob” that forms outside of Tom Robinson’s jail cell in the play, Daniels said, “That’s what I see at Trump’s rallies, the lies spewing at these people, and people going, ‘I’ve got to believe in something. He said he’d bring my manufacturing job back, she didn’t, and I’m all in.’”
“But at the end of the day, aside from ‘I don’t want to pay taxes,’ it’s race,” Daniels said frankly. “It’s race. This is about the Republican Party—or a wing of it—going this is our last chance to save the party. And if we don’t, it’s the end of the Republican Party. And the only way they can do that was to tap the race button and say, ‘Go ahead, it’s OK.’ And he did, and they did. That was the only card they had left to play and they played it, and they aren’t going to go quietly.”
The actor continued to sound off on the “cowardice of the 15 or so Republicans in the Senate who are still quiet.” To those “moderate” Republicans like Bob Corker and Jeff Flake who have retired under Trump, Daniels said, “That’s not courage, that’s making sure you have a job somewhere after politics. Courage is standing up and being a true patriot like we had back in 1776. Who are the heroes going to be?”
And to those in Congress worried about the politics of standing up against Trump, Daniels said, “You are all worthless to me right now. I need people to stand up and be heroic. Who are you? Because democracy is at stake.”
All Nicolle Wallace could say was, “Wow.”