Notwithstanding his having contracted Anyone But Trump syndrome, the problem may be as simple as that De Niro has always been a Democrat through and through. Back in 2015, he endorsed Hillary Clinton (‘She’s a woman, which is very important’), and in October he dined in New York with Barack Obama. But, like Springsteen, perhaps owing to the comforts derived from successfully exploiting a remarkable talent, he is caught in a cultural and political timewarp. Neither man seems to understand that Dems no longer speak for the blue-collar tribe to which both of them once pledged allegiance, and that Trump has stepped in to give a voice to the people who once featured in the movies of De Niro and the songs of Springsteen.
A year ago Springsteen told Esquire that President Trump is ‘deeply damaged at his core’ and ‘dangerous’. Last month, he told USA Today: ‘Unfortunately, we have somebody who I feel doesn’t have a grasp of the deep meaning of what it means to be an American.’
Once nobody would have dared to suggest anything similar about Springsteen, but now things are not so clear. Springsteen once seemed to know that America was best represented by its working people. Now it often seems like he is auditioning to be an anchor on CNN.