When Sarah Silverman premiered I Love You, America last month, she made a deliberate effort not to engage in the same sort of Trump-bashing that has become the norm on nearly every other late-night show (Jimmy Fallon aside). The disciplined restraint cannot have been easy for Silverman, who was one of Bernie Sanders’ biggest celebrity boosters before speaking out just as forcefully for Hillary Clinton during the general election.
This week, in her fifth episode, which will start streaming on Hulu Thursday night, Silverman delivers her most overtly political monologue yet. But within her lament about the year since Donald Trump was elected president lies a hopeful message about how the divided country can find common ground.
In the clip below — provided exclusively to The Daily Beast — Silverman begins by marking “the one year anniversary of Trump losing the popular vote.” Then, to balance that “hot and liberal,” take, she adds, “Emails! Nothingburger! Lock her up!”
On Election Night 2016, Silverman says she felt something she’d “never felt before, which was this overwhelming, survival-based fear” that gave her the “sudden urge to buy a gun and stockpile water and weapons and canned goods.”
“In an instant, I basically became a liberal doomsday prepper,” she jokes. “And for the first time, I felt an actual kinship to the far-right militia person who thought Obama would end the world.” She realized, “It’s that feeling of fear that makes us the same.”
Silverman also learned that “facts really don’t change people, feelings change people,” adding, “When we hear facts that counter our beliefs, we tend to just dig in deeper.” For instance, “If you told a climate change denier that humans contribute to global warming, they would say that’s a lie, that’s a hoax. Just like if someone tells me that Obama was born in Kenya, I’d be like, that’s simply not true.”
“Now granted, one of those facts comes from 97 percent of the world’s top scientists and the other was, like, written on the bathroom wall at the Golden Corral.” But even so, “It’s hard for us to change what we believe unless something hits us right here,” she adds, placing her hand over our her heart, “in our left tit.”
“The most successful politicians are the ones who tap into feeling,” Silverman continues, whether it’s Obama, who “tapped into our hopes” or Trump “who tapped into something possibly even more powerful: our fears.”
Ultimately, Silverman chalks up Trump’s success in 2016 to his ability to become a vessel for “our fears and our rage,” often directed at each other. But, “when we’re divided, we’re easily controlled,” she adds, challenging her viewers to “resist divisiveness and try to see ourselves in each other just as best we can.”
If the woman who ran “The Great Schlep” for Obama in 2008 can identify with his most racist and irrational critics, then anything is possible.