It’s no surprise that many Hollywood actors and actresses are on the left side of the aisle. But what is a surprise -- and a nice one at that -- is to see some of them stand by their ideology even when many liberals on Capitol Hill will not. Last Wednesday, while many Democrats on Capitol Hill stood silent on a big civil liberties issue, one major celebrity went on twitter to chastise some of his ideological allies. On an issue that they are both passionate about, the liberal actor John Cusack -- the star of films like “Being John Malkovich,” High Fidelity” and “2012”-- stood up and praised Rand Paul, the conservative Senator from Kentucky.
On Wednesday (and into early Thursday), in a much-discussed and highly-publicized filibuster, Paul spoke out about President Obama’s domestic drone policy. Paul simply wanted answers from the Obama administration about whether such drones could be used to kill United States citizens in America. Much has been said about what Paul was standing up for that day, but a more revealing story can be told about who wasn’t on the floor with him questioning the Obama administration with the intensity and tenacity that Paul and his Republican colleagues displayed.
That question seemed obvious to Cusack, who voiced his displeasure with his liberal brothers-in-arms on twitter. The actor, who famously held up a boom box in “Say Anything” to proclaim his character’s feelings to the world, played a similar role in supporting Paul’s filibuster.
Sure, the boom box that Cusack used this time was a social networking website and its music was the sound of Paul’s voice rather than the musical stylings of Peter Gabriel. But the principle was the same.
Cusack was standing up for something -- not someone, in this scenario -- that was important to him. He simply wanted Democratic Senators to make a similar stand by standing alongside Paul. “For gods sake where are democrats ??,” he tweeted during the filibuster.
While many senators on the right joined the filibuster -- including Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) -- only one lawmaker on the Left did: Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). Many of the other lawmakers who took offense to some of the Bush administration’s policies were oddly silent as Paul conducted his filibuster.
Cusack, in supporting the filibuster, wasn’t exactly standing alone on the Left. Former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur and the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson, to name two examples, applauded Paul’s nearly-thirteen hour filibuster. As for members of the Democratic Senate Majority (who could have spoken out on the floor), many were left explaining their absence. The Huffington Post even published an article on the subject, which quoted many prominent Democrats giving vague excuses. The article quoted Senator Sherrod Brown saying he was “doing a lot of other things” and the piece noted that Senator Bernie Sanders “never considered joining Paul's effort -- but added that the absence of most Democrats was a ‘good question.’”
A good question, indeed.
I disagree with Cusack on many political issues but it’s hard not to appreciate the actor’s firm stance on subjects like this. He could have stayed silent during the filibuster. But he didn’t. He put principles above politics, which is more than can be said of those whom questioned the Bush administration’s policies but kept quiet when Obama became president. Cusack has faced criticism on twitter for his candor but regardless of your stance on the issue, it is encouraging to see him stand up for his beliefs no matter what party the president belongs to.
In the end, that’s something to applaud when so many liberals weren’t courageous enough to do the same.