Alan Alda isn’t one of the celebrities who regularly backs one candidate or another. However, on Thursday, the former MASH star spoke out against President Trump.
In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Alda explained that he was politically active while his (phenomenally successful) show was on the air, from 1972 to 1983, but he shifted gears afterwards.
“After spending a decade doing everything I could to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified, I made a decision 37 years ago to keep much quieter in public about my political opinions,” Alda wrote. “If I was going to make a contribution, it should be by doing what I was good at: writing and acting.”
While Alda has been less politically active, he’s done much work in the scientific community in his years since leaving Hawkeye behind. In 2009, he co-founded the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University to help scientist and health professionals to “communicate complex topics in clear, vivid and engaging ways” to the public, including elected officials and the media.
Science — not politics — has been his thing. Then came Trump. Alda made an exception.
“We swim in a sea of science, and perhaps, like fish who take water for granted, we take science for granted. But without it, we would stop breathing,” Alda continued. “Which is where we are now. Science is at stake, as is our very breath.”
Alda said he’s kept quiet about many of his opinions, but he changed his mind over Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve wondered what would tip me over into breaking my silence. Would it be Trump’s racism, his misogyny, his attack on the free press, his unspeakable cruelty to children — grabbing them from their parents and then forgetting to return them? Would it be the overt, brazen attempt to deprive people of their ability to vote, the right through which all other rights are guarded?” Alda wrote. “I’m outraged by all of these things, but what has finally done it for me is something even more fundamental: You can’t vote if you’re dead.”
Alda noted Trump’s “deceitful assurances that COVID-19 is nothing to worry about.”
He cited Trump’s January 2016 comment that, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?”
“At this moment, we are all on Fifth Avenue,” Alda wrote.
The Ray Donovan actor encouraged others to have civil conversations with loved ones about the importance of voting and to truly listen to each other.
“We have to take care of one another, no matter what our politics are. I don’t take pleasure in the idea that the people most in danger are Trump’s staff and family and millions of followers,” Alda wrote. “In the worst cases of COVID-19, the experience — even when not fatal — has been described as a constant feeling of drowning. I don’t wish that on anyone.”
He also referred to numbers, which of course Trump often cites, to plead his case: “Almost 63 million people voted for Donald Trump in 2016, but in 1983, more than 106 million people watched the last episode of M.A.S.H. So, it seems that by this president’s standard, I’m a bigger deal than he is.”
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