Springsteen, who has been vocal about his distaste for the Trump administration in the past, spoke in a lengthy interview with The Atlantic about how his music, including songs like “American Skin” and “My Hometown,” have lyrics that are culturally relevant to the ongoing movement against systemic racism and police brutality.
When the artist was asked if he is optimistic or pessimistic about the direction the country is taking, he seized the opportunity to criticize Trump and the Republican Party for, as he sees it, standing in the way of any kind of reform.
“I believe that our current president is a threat to our democracy,” Springsteen began the interview. “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.”
However, he noted that he sees reasons to be optimistic, including seeing the strides that activists have taken in the past few weeks as well as what the situation has done for some of Trump’s poll numbers.
“What’s more, 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.
The musician was referencing a recent visit Trump made to St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House after nights of protests in Washington D.C. The nearby park was forcibly cleared of protesters shortly before Trump walked from the White House to the church, where he posed for a photo while holding a Bible. Trump has faced harsh criticism for the visit both from the public and military figures such as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.
Springsteen continued: “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.”
Later in the interview, the “Born to Run” singer referenced the St. John’s photo-op again, this time in a larger criticism of Republicans, arguing that they have seemingly rejected diversity within the party.
“You could be very pessimistic. But on the other hand, I had a funny experience. When I watched the president march to St. John’s and pose with his Bible and his phony all-white contingent, it didn’t look real. Because it wasn’t real. That is not the America of today. That culture, which keeps black people invisible, is gone,” he said. “In the present moment, if black people are not visible, that’s not acceptable. And I think that’s a sign of progress.”
He added: “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.”
In addition to criticizing Trump over his handling of the ongoing protests against police brutality and systemic racism, the acclaimed musician has also jabbed him over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, he issued a harsh rebuke of Trump during his SiriusXM show “From My Home to Yours” in which he explained that he originally planned to devote the episode of the biweekly program to songs that celebrate the summer. However, he said that the mounting death toll caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the administration’s handling of it made him rethink that decision.
“With 100,000 plus Americans dying over the last few months and the empty, shamed response from our leaders, I’ve been simply pissed off,” he says in the clip shared to Twitter. “Those lives deserve better than just being inconvenient statistics for our president’s reelection efforts. It’s a national disgrace.”