One of the biggest question marks for Democrats heading into a 2016 general election that should be a cakewalk with a candidate like Donald Trump on the other side is what happens to Bernie Sanders’s supporters if he loses the nomination to Hillary Clinton.
Some will inevitably fall in line and find a way to get excited about the likelihood of America’s first woman president. But many others may end up feeling just as alienated from the political process as they did before Sanders entered the race and just decide to stay home.
For instance, there’s Susan Sarandon.
The actress and activist has been a powerful surrogate for Sanders on the campaign trail over the past few months, and during an interview with MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes Monday night, she said she doesn’t know if she can bring herself to vote for Clinton if it comes down to it.
“I think, in certain quarters, there’s growing concern that the folks that are into Bernie Sanders have come to despise Hillary Clinton or reject Hillary Clinton and that should she be the nominee, which is as yet undetermined, they will walk away,” Hayes said.
“That’s a legitimate concern,” Sarandon replied. “Because they’re very passionate and principled.”
“But isn’t that crazy?” the host asked. “If you believe in what he believes in?”
“Yeah but she doesn’t,” Sarandon shot back. “She accepted money for all of those people. She doesn’t even want to fight for a $15 minimum wage. So these are people that have not come out before. So why would we think they’re going to come out now for her, you know?”
As they continued to discuss the issue, Hayes pressed Sarandon to see the election as potentially a choice between Clinton and Trump, arguing that Sanders himself would “probably” urge his supporters to vote for her.
“I think Bernie would probably encourage people, because he doesn’t have any ego in this thing,” Sarandon told him. “But I think a lot of people are, ‘Sorry, I just can’t bring myself to [vote for Clinton].’”
“How about you personally?” Hayes asked.
“I don’t know. I’m going to see what happens,” Sarandon said.
That bit of honesty prompted Hayes to stop in his tracks. “Really?” he asked incredulously.
“Really,” Sarandon said, adding that “some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in, things will really explode.” Asked if she thinks that’s “dangerous,” she replied, “It’s dangerous to think that we can continue the way we are with the militarized police force, with privatized prisons, with the death penalty, with the low minimum wage, threats to women’s rights and think you can’t do something huge to turn that around.”
One thing Hayes neglected to confront Sarandon over was her support in 2000 of third-party candidate Ralph Nader instead of then-Vice President Al Gore. The actress served as a co-chairwoman of his National Steering Committee the year that George W. Bush narrowly beat Gore, thanks to Nader’s status as spoiler for the Democrats.
However, by 2004 she appeared to have learned her lesson. Along with former Nader supporters like Michael Moore, she urged the candidate to get out of the race out of fear that he would help deliver Bush a second term. This time, Bush didn’t need Nader’s help. But if Clinton ends up losing to Trump in a general election, all eyes will be on Sanders supporters who decided to stay home.