Susan Sarandon: If Hillary had won 'we would be at war'

Here’s a perspective on the Trump administration you don’t hear very often: Things could be worse if Hillary had won. That’s what actress Susan Sarandon told the Guardian in an interview published Sunday.

For a long time Sarandon was despised by the right, her protests against the Vietnam war and US aggression in Nicaragua and Iraq making her the kind of target that, for progressives, is an affirmation of sorts. Her latest unpopularity, by contrast, comes exclusively from the left and is much tougher on Sarandon. “I’m not attacked from the right at all,” she will tell me. Instead, she is accused of not checking her white privilege, of throwing away her vote on a third-party candidate (the Green party nominee, Jill Stein) during the US presidential election, and of recklessly espousing a political cause that let Trump in through the backdoor. Liberals in the US, it seems, can summon more hatred for Sarandon right now than they can for Paul Ryan.

To be fair, there are plenty of people on the right gunning for Paul Ryan, just as there are people on the left going after Sarandon. She says the hate directed her way from Hillary supporters is so bad that she changed her phone number.

During the last election, Sarandon supported Bernie Sanders, then wouldn’t support Clinton after she won the nomination, and now all the moderates hate her, to the extent, she says, that she had to change her phone number because people she identifies as Hillary trolls sent her threatening messages. “I got from Hillary people ‘I hope your crotch is grabbed’, ‘I hope you’re raped’. Misogynistic attacks. Recently, I said ‘I stand with Dreamers’ [children brought illegally to the US, whose path to legal citizenship – an Obama-era provision – Trump has threatened to revoke] and that started another wave.”

Wait, from the right?

“No, from the left! ‘How dare you! You who are responsible for this!’”…

Did she really say that Hillary was more dangerous than Trump?

“Not exactly, but I don’t mind that quote,” she says. “I did think she was very, very dangerous. We would still be fracking, we would be at war [if she was president]. It wouldn’t be much smoother. Look what happened under Obama that we didn’t notice.”

This was one of the main complaints about Hillary from the Sanders wing of the party, i.e. she was considered too hawkish because of her past support for the Iraq War. But would we actually be in a war if she had won? I don’t think that’s likely, though it is possible Putin would have been more aggressive against a Hillary administration because he evidently dislikes her.

The closest Trump has come to war has either been a) mouthing off to North Korea or b) firing Tomahawk missiles into Syria. I’m sure Hillary would have done less of the former, but the sudden leap in North Korea’s missile capability would have made some kind of tough talk inevitable. As for attacking Syria, I think Hillary would have been more likely to hold off on that somewhat risky approach. I certainly can’t envision her going much beyond what Trump did in any case. Finally, Obama had us engaged in a battle against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. I don’t think Hillary would have pulled us out of that conflict but would she have made it significantly worse somehow?

Overall, I don’t think there’s much support for the idea that Hillary was a danger to the world far beyond Trump or other candidates. This seems like the kind of left-wing talking point that doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. But more generally, I think Sarandon has a point that Hillary wouldn’t have brought peace to the world. We’d be having different political arguments at home and abroad but we’d still be having those arguments constantly.