There’s a famous story about how, in the days after 9/11, someone yelled out to Bruce Springsteen from a car, “We need you now,” and that that helped inspire him to make his album, The Rising.
With the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency looming, I think time has come to say, “Bruce Springsteen, we need you now, again. Surely, you will take a stand on this election by the fall. Why not start now?”
Bruce Springsteen is currently off tour, though he’ll be back on the road in Europe from May 14 to July 31. After that, he’ll be back in the States for some more shows, including dates at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, Aug. 23 and 25.
Will the subject of politics come up in the fall? How could it not? In 2004, Springsteen participated with other artists in the Vote for Change tour, in support of John Kerry’s run against George W. Bush. In 2008 and 2012, he performed at rallies in support of Barack Obama. And in many ways, the choice facing voters this fall could be even more extreme than it was in those years.
But so far, Springsteen has said nothing. He didn’t even protest when Trump started playing “Born in the USA” at rallies.
I understand why Springsteen hasn’t endorsed either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. He’s waiting to see who will win the nomination. But, given his political leanings, it’s impossible to see him preferring Trump over either of them. After all, it’s hard to find a prominent Republican these days who will endorse Trump, and Springsteen is consistently liberal.
If Springsteen doesn’t want to say anything about Clinton or Sanders yet, fine. But now that Trump is the lone man standing in the G.O.P. race, the time has come for him to break his silence.
And when he does — now or later — it will be news. Springsteen made a lot of headlines in 2014 when he took a jab at Gov. Christie with his humorous song, “Gov. Chris Christie’s Fort Lee, New Jersey Traffic Jam.” And when he refused, last month, to perform in North Carolina, in protest of the HB2 law, he brought the issue to the attention of countless people throughout the country who were previously unaware of it. When he finally speaks out against Trump, people will be very curious about what he has to say, and how vicious it is (I’m guessing, pretty vicious).
Has he ever said anything about Trump, publicly, before? I could find only one instance. In October 1999, when Trump was flirting with his first presidential run, Springsteen told the crowd at a Los Angeles E Street Band show: “I don’t usually like … to endorse presidential candidates … but I’ve got to say, Jesse Ventura, bodyslam yourself. Ross Perot, get back under the hood, crazy man … fascist-wanna-be Pat Buchanan, get out of here …. Donald Trump, take your money and your honey, shut up, you fool.” (Source: brucebase.wikidot.com).
Yes, Springsteen once called Trump a fool. And that was when he was still only a remote threat, as a politician.
Meanwhile, Trump lashed out at Springsteen, via Twitter, in 2012, after Springsteen performed at an Obama rally, writing, “Why would Ohio listen to Bruce Springsteen reading his lines? Be careful or I will go to Ohio and @MittRomney will win it!”
And what if Trump chooses Christie as his running mate? It would be fascinating to watch what Springsteen does then, and how Christie reacts, on both a political and a psychological level.
And if we’re really lucky, we might even get some new Springsteen music out of it.
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