Bruce Springsteen spoke candidly about the state of the union in the face of the global pandemic and racial injustice taking center stage in a way it never has in America. Speaking to The Atlantic, Springsteen admitted, "I don’t think anybody truly knows where we’re going from here yet. 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?"
Springsteen went on to say that he believed Donald Trump presents a threat to the country: "And of course, nobody knows where our next election is going to take us. I believe that our current president is a threat to our democracy. 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."
He went on to say, "If you look at all this, you could be pessimistic, but there are positive sides in each of these circumstances. I think we’ve got hope for a vaccine. I think any time there is a 50-foot Black Lives Matter sign leading to the White House, that’s a good sign. And the demonstrations have been white people and black people and brown people gathering together in the enraged name of love. That’s a good sign."
Regarding Trump's recent actions in the wake of the death of George Floyd, Springsteen explained, "Our president’s numbers appear to be crashing through the basement. That’s a good sign. I believe we may have finally reached a presidential tipping point with that Lafayette Square walk, which was so outrageously anti-American, so totally buffoonish and so stupid, and so anti-freedom of speech. And we have a video of it that will live on forever."
Springsteen said he remains hopeful for Joe Biden's chances for victory in November, saying, "I have the feeling of optimism about the next election. I think it’s all these kids in the street that are inspiring the most hope in me. And the fact that these are demonstrations that are going on around the world. I think it’s a movement that ultimately is going to be about more than police violence, and George Floyd, may he rest in peace."
He spoke about the disparity of the two parties when it comes to the legislative branch of government: "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."
Although Bruce Springsteen holds tight to his liberal beliefs, he was asked why he thinks working class towns — like Freehold, New Jersey where he grew up — have been the types of places that Donald Trump has found such a strong following: "There’s a long history of working people being misled by a long list of demagogues, from George Wallace and Jesse Helms to fake religious leaders like Jerry Falwell to our (current) president. . . The feeling of being tossed aside, left behind by history, is something our president naturally tapped into. But the president cynically taps into primal resentments and plays on patriotism for purely his political gain."
He went on to explain, "The Democrats haven’t really made the preservation of the middle and working class enough of a priority. And they’ve been stymied in bringing more change by the Republican Party. In the age of (Teddy) Roosevelt, Republicans represented business; Democrats represented labor. And when I was a kid, the first and only political question ever asked in my house was 'Mom, what are we, Democrats or Republicans?' And she answered, 'We are Democrats because they’re for the working people.'"
Bruce Springsteen's fourth album, 1978's Darkness On The Edge of Town, was a creative game changer for him and dealt specifically with what happens when the American dream comes up short for those who fall in between the cracks: ["It's a reckoning with the adult world, y'know? There's a life of limitations and compromises, but also a life of kind of, of just resilience and commitment to life, to the breath in your lungs, y'know (laughs)? How do I keep faith with those things? How do I honor those things? Darkness was a record where I set out to try and understand how to do that."] SOUNDCUE (:24 OC: . . . to do that)
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Bruce Springsteen On The Theme Behind ‘Darkness’ :