"Love Trumps Hate": Actress Rosario Dawson on Why She Supports Bernie Sanders for President

StoryApril 04, 2016
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Rosario Dawson

actress and activist.

Both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders campaigned in New York state Thursday ahead of the New York primary later this month. More than 16,000 people gathered in St. Mary’s Park in the South Bronx for a Bernie Sanders rally, the first time in decades that a presidential candidate campaigned in the community. Sanders stressed his Brooklyn roots and spoke alongside director Spike Lee and actress Rosario Dawson, who spoke with Democracy Now! after the rally. "I’m supporting Bernie Sanders because he says no to fracking. I’m supporting Bernie Sanders because we do need a single-payer healthcare system that takes care of everyone. And that is not a pipe dream; that’s something that’s happening all over the world and in really positive ways. We are a social democracy," said Dawson.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: On Thursday night, between 16,000 and 20,000 people gathered in St. Mary’s Park in the South Bronx for a Bernie Sanders rally, where Sanders stressed his Brooklyn roots. It was the first time in decades a presidential candidate spoke in the South Bronx. He spoke alongside director Spike Lee and actress Rosario Dawson, who is known for her role in Kids and many other films, including Sin City: A Dame to Kill For as well as Rent. I caught up with Dawson after the rally. She was walking on the sidewalk with friends. It was, well, nearing midnight. I began by asking her why she supports Bernie Sanders.

ROSARIO DAWSON: I’m supporting Bernie Sanders because he says no to fracking. I’m supporting Bernie Sanders because we do need a single-payer healthcare system that takes care of everyone. And that is not a pipe dream; that’s something that’s happening all over the world and in really positive ways. We are a social democracy. That’s our firefighters, that’s our policemen. And it shouldn’t be drawing a line, that’s—you know, a fireman will go into your house to take your hard drive out and save your cat, but if you break your leg, screw you. That doesn’t make any sense, you know? And when you actually go and you travel around the world and you start recognizing that people can actually be sick, they can take—you know, have a broken leg and not lose their job and lose their livelihoods and lose their homes over it, that’s really important.

You know, free college, universities, that’s a really, really big deal. People shouldn’t be thinking about that for the rest of their life they’re going to be having these deals, because I’m looking at people who are in their forties, fifties and sixties that are still paying off their student loans. That’s crazy. You know, like how are we supposed to compete in the economy as it’s moving forward? The world—we’re being replaced by robots. Like, we’re not going to be globally competitive if we’re not making sure people are getting the education that they need.

AMY GOODMAN: And why do you think Bernie Sanders can solve these issues in a way that Hillary Clinton can’t?

ROSARIO DAWSON: The reason why Bernie can do that is because it’s a revolution. And the revolution is all of us being a part of that conversation. It’s not going—someone’s going to go into office and just go, "Great, I take it from here," but actually inspiring people to come and take off—you know, when you see what Black Lives Matter is doing with #ByeAnita, when you see people like Nina Turner coming up and Tulsi Gabbard and all of these other people.

This idea that, you know, this has to be the only person, this only woman—no, I don’t want to vote for someone who said yes to the Iraq War and yes to the PATRIOT Act twice. I don’t want to support someone who said yes to NAFTA up until 2008 and when Obama even called her out on it, because she was running for presidency. She was saying, "Yeah, the gold standard of the TPP deal," but you know exactly what she’s going to do when she goes into office, and sign it. This is not OK. Profits for prisons, and now actually profits for the rehabilitation centers, because the same people who own those private prisons are also the same people who own the detention centers and for—for the undocumented who are going in there. And it’s not just undocumented people. People are going and getting thrown in there who have green cards, all types. I mean, there’s a real serious problem that’s going on right now, and has been going on for a long time. And so, for someone like her to be talking about that she cares, but hasn’t done anything really about it, is really shocking to me, you know, and really even admitting and talking about how her policies were so devastating for people. You know? Like—

AMY GOODMAN: And what about—what about the TV networks that say that Bernie Sanders can’t get the support of communities of color?

ROSARIO DAWSON: Well, that’s obviously ridiculous. You know? And that’s—but again, like, I mean, you’ve got to really look at the fact that these companies and their parent companies are the ones who have—you know, they’re dependent on fossil fuel and pharmaceutical companies putting the commercials around them. You know, they’re dependent on all of—you know, this is about people making money and lobbyists. This is not about us.



AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what you’re doing tomorrow night, the forum you’re having in Harlem?


AMY GOODMAN: Are you doing it with Michelle Alexander?

ROSARIO DAWSON: Yeah, so, I wanted to put together—actually, I was talking to Eve Ensler about it, and we just came up with this idea of talking about just women and what we have to talk about in policies and politics. And so, I wanted to round up particularly a couple of women who are definitely Bernie supporters, but not necessarily everybody. But we’re going to have Michelle Alexander, who wrote The New Jim Crow; Tessa Thompson, who was in Dear White People; Donna Hylton, who was incarcerated for 23 years and can really talk to these issues and, like, give people information, because the one thing I keep finding is people who are supportive of the other candidates tend to do so with these really broad sort of ideas as to why. And as soon as you go, "Well, why?" and you challenge them, they don’t really have the facts to back it up. And I really feel like there’s a possibility of especially undecided voters, giving them the information that they actually need, that a lot of the group mass media is not giving them, because he’s—you know, and he doesn’t have the benefit of super PACs or being a household name or a brand name, you know, so he just has us. And he has his message, that has been consistent for decades.

And so, now, because of social media, the difference between him and Obama—like, you know, the Twitter only just had its 10th anniversary of existence, you know? Like, there, he had a mass movement behind him, but, you know, people can tell you, two months in, they were disenchanted because he closed the door and started trying to reach across the aisle with people who had been calling him a terrorist for years. You know? Like—and so, then he lost the House and the Senate and all these different things. And that’s when the obstructionism came. It wasn’t that he walked into it like that. And so, you know, and I think it’s really—this is someone who’s got—understands that, whose momentum is solely built off of the online space. And so, we know, because he’s been consistent his entire career, that he’s not going to make an about-face when he gets into the Oval Office, that he’s going to stay true to his promises, because he’s doing so right now. The desire and need to want to be president and do the things that he can do has got to be really so intense, and he must really want to be able to say, "Yes, please," from companies that are good companies, say, "Give me some money," but he still says no, because he wants the people to get him there. He wants all of us to win the presidency. And that’s why I’m behind him.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Rosario Dawson, your thoughts on Donald Trump, both saying originally—just a few days ago saying that women should be jailed for having abortions; he’s walked it back a little in saying, no, the doctors who give them abortions should be punished.

ROSARIO DAWSON: Yeah, that’s already happening, unfortunately. You know, I think that’s one of the sort of red herrings, the fallacies about—you know, about Trump, is that he somehow is making up the divisiveness, that he’s somehow creating it, when that’s just not true. This has been going on for a long time. Black Lives Matter, the DREAMer movement exists for a reason. And this has been going on on our streets for a really, really long time. And he’s been calling Obama out as being a dreamer for years. And that didn’t start with him. That started when a picture of Obama with a turban came out of the Hillary Clinton camp, you know? And so, like, there’s a real reality about—there’s been dirty politics and things that have been going on for a very long time, and they got out of hand. And now you have people like Lindsey Graham going, "I support Ted Cruz," which you know he would never want to do, because the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have really lost touch with the people on the ground.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about Donald Trump having trouble disavowing David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan and then retweeting Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy?

ROSARIO DAWSON: Well, I mean, again, you’re talking about someone who is dividing the country, who’s been doing that for a really long time. The fact that he was never brought his feet to fire by going, "Hey, if you really think that the president is not legally capable of being the president"—I wonder if he would have had as much to say about McCain having been born in Panama. But, you know, I really think it’s really striking that no one called him out on that. So now you want to be the president of the country that you believe could have hired someone for the job who wasn’t legally capable of doing it? Like, so I think there’s a lot of insanity.

But again, like I—it’s not—he doesn’t—he isn’t the problem. He hasn’t been the problem. There is a lot of stuff that’s been going on for many, many years that have gotten out of control, and now he represents that problem. And I think now we’re finally dealing with it. You know, there are a lot of people who follow him who are so grateful to be able to have the chance to maybe say "spic" again. They’re like, "Yes! You know, this guy is talking to us, and he’s giving us permission." Because you know what? We’ve had this insane level of political correctness that has been glossing over the fact that things aren’t politically correct, that things are really devastating for a lot of people—black, white, brown, male, female, different religions, all of it. And we’ve been pretending like somehow we’ve broken through the ceiling, the glass ceiling for women, that because we have a president named Barack Hussein Obama, that we’re no longer racist. And that’s just not true. So, I think what we really have to talk about is not exactly what he’s saying individually, but what he represents and the fact that a lot of people behind him feel that way. And what are we going to do about that?

Let’s try to get Bernie on, so the more opportunity he has to talk to the people and not get the facts obfuscated or misconstrued by the mass media, that has been happening. I mean, the times that I watch him on these other shows, and then watch them right after and start rolling their eyes, like, "Well, did you hear?" I’m like, "No, that’s not what he said. Ugh!" And because people are busy, they’re taking advantage of the fact. Like, this is something I understand because I’m an actor. So, we have—we’re constantly trying to put out "This new movie’s coming out. This new thing, whatever, is coming out. Will you come and watch it?" And we’re trying to razzle-dazzle you to pay attention in the midst of your busy lives. What’s happening with the corporate media is they’re abusing the fact that they know that you’re busy with your lives, and so they’re hoping that you missed the debate and that you missed all this stuff, so that their summary is what you walk away with. And it’s wrong. And it’s yellow journalism, and you’re misleading people. And you’re going to have that on your hands. The Iraq War that they sold you, that’s blood on your hands. Like, this is the reality. You cannot be selling us someone who voted yes on it and take no responsibility. That is not OK.

And so, that’s why I’m here and try to do what I can, because it’s not about making anyone feel better. It’s like Luis Guzmán was saying. If you just took away their brand names, and you took away, you know, their faces, and just listened to what they had to say, who would you vote for? It’s very clear that that is Bernie Sanders. It’s very clear. So that’s what we have to do, is keep giving people that information, because when I say people are voting against themselves, it’s because, I’m telling you, you are. Because I’m actually looking at this information, and I’m watching people do it. So, if you have real, substantive reasons why you want to support your candidate, then, great, bring that to the table. But that’s not what I’ve been hearing. And that’s what I’m trying to give people now.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you think Bernie Sanders’ path to the presidency is right now?

ROSARIO DAWSON: This is it. You know, I’m seeing a lot of people already going and starting to, you know, talk to their superdelegates and talk to these different people and going, "Hey, like, this is not OK." You know, this is what happened. What happened was, Hillary lost in 2008 because of her Iraq War vote, and she lost because a lot of election politics that went on that left a really sour taste in people’s mouths. And she lost because of the delegates. And so, rather than go, "Let’s take that out of the system," she just started to work for it and started to get them on her side. And she started, before the primaries, having over like 400 delegates pledged to her. That is not OK, you know?

And so, I think that this is our moment right now. People are starting to wake up to what our election process looks like. We are not a democracy, even though we keep trying to push that colonially all around the world. What we are is a republic. And so, if we want it to be a democracy, we need to hire someone for the job who’s going to actually want to make that happen, so that we can have the voter—you know, voter day—you know, the Election Day be a holiday, so that we can have mandatory and like automatic voter registration, so that we can maybe start being about an Electoral College. That’s great, but right now the powers that be, the establishment politicians in politics, they don’t want that to happen. I can tell you. I’ve done voter registration for over 11 years. I have to say, like, the one thing I’ve noticed is, you know, the millionaires and the billionaires that we sat down with, they didn’t want to give us money for voter registration or any of the other places. They want to give you money for the candidates. And they just want to give you money for the, you know, get out the vote. They want to know that the few amount of people that are voting, that they can persuade one way or the other. They don’t want all you new young voters, because they don’t know—that’s too risky. They don’t know what you’re going to do. And you disrupt the system.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, in these primaries, more than 80 percent of the people are not voting.

ROSARIO DAWSON: Yeah, and it’s crazy. You know? And what we’ve seen, like record numbers of voter registration also happening. And part of it’s responsible people wanting to vote against Trump. And a lot of it’s responsible because people want to get their chance to vote for the first time for Bernie Sanders. And that’s really beautiful.

AMY GOODMAN: Who do you think could beat Donald Trump?

ROSARIO DAWSON: It’s not a question—this, again, like even that kind of question—like already across the polls, Bernie beats him by a landslide. So, again, it’s a false—it’s a red herring. It’s a false narrative to think that the only way to beat Trump is to somehow vote for the other Democratic candidate. That’s not true. And now we’re not in the general election. He doesn’t have the nomination yet. So stop making us—jumping us into the path, into the future. Right now we’re in our present, and we get to vote for someone, who has values that we believe in and who supports us in the way that he needs us to support him. And, like, that’s actually a really beautiful thing.

Like, millions of people marched against the Iraq War before it happened. That’s historical. Millions of people marched against the bailout. Millions of people, students, walked out in 2006 against immigration reform. They texted each other and walked out of their high school classrooms. Like, we keep seeing these mass movements of people going, "This is not the way things should be done," and it gets ignored. The thousands of people who have been marching across America for Bernie, that doesn’t get any press coverage, because, Gil Scott-Heron said, "The revolution will not be televised." But it’s time for it to be televised. And thank you so much for televising it, because we need people to know how beautiful this moment is. No matter what, look at this. This is incredible. And we have a Jewish man who’s talking about Palestine. Like, do you know what I’m saying? Like, this is a really, really remarkable, huge moment, and we cannot gloss it over. You’re doing a disservice to people by doing so. This is something really beautiful. I’m doing this because love trumps hate, not because I need to vote against somebody, but because love trumps hate. This is a love movement. I’m so excited!

AMY GOODMAN: Actress Rosario Dawson speaking late Thursday night after addressing 18,000 people at the Bernie Sanders rally in the South Bronx. The New York primary as April 19. Two hundred forty-seven pledged delegates are up for grabs. Currently, Clinton and Sanders are sparring over when to hold a debate in New York. Clinton is pushing to do it on the night of April 14th, when Sanders has a major rally scheduled in Washington Square Park. He’s pushing for any other date.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, who gets to vote in these primaries, and who doesn’t? We’re going to speak with Ari Berman. Stay with us.

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