Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

: Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: Takahiro Kyono from Tokyo, Japan


* Rock musician, singer-songwriter, and guitarist
* Strong supporter of the Democratic Party and leftwing causes
* Views America as a nation filled with white racism
* Raised funds for the Christic Institute in 1990

Leftist Influences

Bruce Frederick Springsteen was born on September 23, 1949 in Long Branch, New Jersey, the first child of Irish-American bus driver Douglas Springsteen and his Italian-American wife, Adele Zirilli. “I didn’t grow up in a very political household,” Springsteen said in a 2004 Rolling Stone interview, though he recalled that when he was in grade school, his mother had told him: “We’re Democrats, ’cause Democrats are for the working people.” “I was politicized by the Sixties,” Springsteen elaborated.

But a more revealing version of how this high-school dropout was radicalized comes from author Dave Marsh’s 1987 biography, Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s. “Springsteen grew up in a classically anti-intellectual environment,” wrote Marsh. “When he signed his first record contract, he claimed the only two books he’d read were The Godfather and Tony Scaduto’s biography of Bob Dylan. But after Brandeis-educated Jon Landau [a music critic/record producer who served as Springsteen’s manager] gave Bruce a couple of pushes in the right direction, the singer responded with the voraciousness of the born autodidact.”

A noteworthy influence who pulled Springsteen to the political left was childhood friend and on-again, off-again guitarist for his E Street Band, Steven (“Little Steven”) Van Zandt, a Noam Chomsky acolyte who viewed the United States as nation infested with white racism. Van Zandt persuaded Springsteen to perform the Artists United Against Apartheid protest song Sun City in 1985.

In 1975, the young Springsteen was simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines. He was marketed as the next Bob Dylan, who in turn was a great admirer of the Marxist folksinger Woody Guthrie. Before long, Springsteen as well identified himself with Guthrie. According to a 2004 story, “Springsteen’s mind was marinated in left-wing social commentary such as the class warfare novel The Grapes of Wrath and its movie version starring radical Jane Fonda’s liberal father Henry.”

In 1979 Springsteen performed at the MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) anti-nuclear power concert, whence came the album No Nukes. This concert — which was the first of many rock concerts organized to raise money and popular support for leftwing causes — also featured such musicians as Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor.

In 1980, Springsteen also began studying the History of the United States by Henry Steele Commager and Allen Nevins, a pair of New Deal leftists who portrayed the United States as a nation steeped in race- and class-based oppression. “I’m thirty-one now and I just started to read the history of the United States,” he told a cheering audience in Paris, according to Dave Marsh. “I started to learn about how things got to be the way they are today, how you end up a victim without even knowing it. And how people get old and just die after not having hardly a day’s satisfaction or peace of mind in their lives.”

Jon Landau introduced Springsteen to yet another leftwing influence, Bob Muller, who had been an activist with Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Indeed, Springsteen’s popular 1984 song, Born in the USA, articulated a negative view of America from the perspective of a Vietnam vet. When conservative columnist George Will persuaded President Ronald Reagan to praise the song as pro-American, Springsteen disavowed the compliments of Will and Reagan.

Fundraiser for the Christic Institute

In 1990, Springsteen did a fundraiser for the Christic Institute, which claimed that the Central Intelligence Agency was flooding America’s inner cities with cocaine to raise money for the anti-Marxist contras in Central America.

Condemning Police Racism

In June 2000, Springsteen debuted a song that referenced the fatal 1999 New York City police shooting of Amadou Diallo, an illegal migrant from Africa who the officers mistakenly thought was reaching for a gun. The song carried the provocative refrain of “41 shots, 41 shots.”

In early June 2020, just days after the infamous death of the African American George Floyd in an altercation with a white Minneapolis police officer, Springsteen proclaimed: “We need systemic changes in our law enforcement departments and the political will of our national citizenry to once again move forward the kind of changes that will bring the ideals of the civil rights movement once again to life and into this moment.”

Vote For Change

In 2004 Springsteen was active in Vote for Change, an alliance of “progressive” musicians and bands whose activist activities were coordinated by the political action committee of

“Nuevo Cancion” & Socialist Revolutionary Movements

In September 2013, Springsteen recorded, in Spanish, an Internet version of the song Solo le pido a Dios (I only ask of God), which he said he had learned from the late Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa. Sosa was known for initiating the “Nuevo Cancion” (“New Song”) movement — i.e., songs that explored themes of social justice and political and personal struggle and became closely linked to the socialist revolutionary movements of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

Portraying America as a Racist Nation

In November 2015 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Springsteen performed in a a 2-hour television special titled Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America. Others who participated in the event included Pharrell Williams, Sting, the Zac Brown Band, John Legend, Pink, Ed Sheeran, Sia, Jamie Foxx, Eric Church, Miguel, Jill Scott, Tori Kelly, and Rhiannon Giddens.

During an October 24, 2021 television appearance on CBS Sunday Morning, Springsteen spoke with former President Barack Obama and agreed with Obama’s characterization of the singer’s white fans as racists who would have hurled racial epithets at Springsteen’s black saxophonist, Clarence Clemons, if they were to have encountered the latter offstage. The exchange went as follows:

OBAMA: In an ideal world what Bruce and Clarence portrayed on stage was essentially a reconciliation, right? Redemption.

SPRINGSTEEN: That’s right.

OBAMA: But most of your audiences were primarily white. And they can love Clarence when he’s onstage, but if they ran into him in a bar, suddenly–


OBAMA: –the N-word comes out.”

SPRINGSTEEN: (nods emphatically) Yeah.

OBAMA: And part of Bruce’s music and part of my politics has been, ‘No, no you gotta surface that stuff, you gotta talk about it. Sunlight is the disinfectant.’


OBAMA:  And if you talk about it then you can reconcile in a true way. Not in a phony way, but in a real way.

Protesting & Boycotting Against Transgender “Bathroom Laws”

In early April 2016, Springsteen canceled a scheduled concert in North Carolina, as an act of protest against that state’s recent passage of the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which made it illegal for biological men identifying as transgender women to use women’s restrooms in public places. Asserting that “the law … attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace,” the singer stated: “No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden. To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens, to overturn that progress.” Added Springsteen: “Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters. As a result, and with deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro, we have canceled our show scheduled for Sunday, April 10th. Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.” Other celebrities who announced that they, too, would be boycotting North Carolina included Jimmy Buffet, Ringo Starr, Cyndi Lauper, Laura Jane Grace, Brandi Carlile, Nick Jonas, Michael Moore, and musical writer Stephen Schwartz.

During an April 15, 2016 concert in Michigan, Springsteen condemned legislators in that state for their plan to pass a bathroom law similar to North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. The Michigan law would prohibit schools from permitting children to share a bathroom or locker room with fellow students of the opposite biological sex. “We hope the bill doesn’t pass, ’cause we love playing in Michigan,” said Springsteen.

Supporting Hillary Clinton for President

In September 2016, Rolling Stone magazine interviewer Brian Hiatt asked Springsteen how he felt about Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The singer replied: “I like Hillary. I think she would be a very, very good president.”

At a November 7, 2016 concert near Independence Hall in Philadelphia — on the eve of the election — Springsteen and fellow rocker Jon Bon Jovi joined President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for an election-eve rally on Clinton’s behalf. “The choice tomorrow couldn’t be any clearer,” Springsteen told those in attendance. “Hillary’s candidacy is based on intelligence, experience, preparation and on an actual vision of an America where everyone counts, men and women, white and black, Hispanic and native, where folks of all faiths and backgrounds can come together to address our problems in a reasonable and thoughtful way.” “Let’s all do our part so that we can look back on 2016 and say, ‘We stood with Hillary Clinton on the right side of history,’” added Springsteen.

Contempt for Donald Trump

During a September 2016 concert in Pittsburgh, Springsteen granted a song request from a concertgoer who handed him a pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution with the words “Fuck Trump” written on it. “Well, somebody gave me a copy of the Constitution of the United States,” Springsteen told the crowd. “It does say ‘Fuck Trump’ on the front of it. And this was his request.” At that point, Springsteen proceeded to play his 2007 song Long Walk Home, in compliance with the fan’s request.

During a September 2016 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Springsteen said: “The republic is under siege by a moron [Trump], basically. The whole thing is tragic. Without overstating it, it’s a tragedy for our democracy. When you start talking about elections being rigged, you’re pushing people beyond democratic governance. And it’s a very, very dangerous thing to do. Once you let those genies out of the bottle, they don’t go back in so easy, if they go back in at all.” Accusing Trump of trying to push “white nationalism” and the “alt-right movement” into the American mainstream, the singer added: “I believe that there’s a price being paid for not addressing the real cost of the deindustrialization and globalization that has occurred in the United States for the past 35, 40 years and how it’s deeply affected people’s lives and deeply hurt people to where they want someone who says they have a solution. And Trump’s thing is simple answers to very complex problems. Fallacious answers to very complex problems. And that can be very appealing.”

In an October 2016 interview with the BBC’s Channel 4, Springsteen predicted that Trump would lose the presidential election to Hillary Clinton. “He has a feeling he’s going to lose now, which, of course, he’s going to lose,” said Springsteen. “And he knows that… and he’s such a flagrant, toxic narcissist that he wants to take down the entire democratic system with him if he goes.” Claiming also that Trump had “no sense of responsibility about him,” Springsteen added: “The words that he’s been using over the past several weeks really are an attack on the entire democratic process. I think it’s very dangerous. He does have a lot of people’s ears, and I don’t think he’s going to go quietly, gently into the good night. I think he’s going to make as big a mess as he can and I don’t know what that’s going to mean, but we’ll find out shortly.”

At a November 7, 2016 concert in Philadelphia, Springsteen described Trump as a man with a “profound lack of decency” and “whose vision is limited to little beyond himself.”

In an interview on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast in early January 2017, Springsteen spoke about his feelings regarding Trump’s recent election: “It’s simply the fear of, ‘Is someone simply competent enough to do this particular job?’ Forget about where they are ideologically. Do they simply have the pure competence to be put in a position of such responsibility?” Asserting also that Trump’s proposed policies were “lies” that would have disastrous consequences for America, he added:

“When you let that genie out of the bottle — racism, bigotry, intolerance — when you let those things out of the bottle, they don’t go back in the bottle that easily, if they go back in at all. Whether it’s a rise in hate crimes, people feeling that they have license to speak and behave in ways that previously were considered un-American, and are un-American. That’s what he’s appealing to.

“And so my fear is that those things find a place in ordinary, civil society, demeans the discussion and events of the day, and the country changes in a way that is unrecognizable, and we become estranged… Those are all dangerous things, and he hasn’t even taken office yet. So we gotta wait and see. But those are certainly the implications, and you also look at who he’s been picking for his Cabinet, that doesn’t speak very well for what’s coming up.”

At a January 30, 2017 concert in Australia, Springsteen denounced President Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending the entry of citizens from Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Libya into the United States. (DETAILS) “Tonight we want to add our voices to the thousands of Americans who are protesting at airports around our country — the Muslim ban and the detention of foreign nationals and refugees,” the singer shouted. “America is a nation of immigrants. And we find this anti-democratic and fundamentally un-American.” He also told the crowd that he was an “embarrassed American” as a result of Trump’s recent election.

In April 2017, Springsteen collaborated with Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers to release a new protest song titled That’s What Makes Us Great, which characterized President Trump as an ignorant, hateful “con man” surrounded by “his crooks.”

In a March 2018 performance of his Springsteen on Broadway one-man show, Springsteen described the Trump years in the darkest of terms: “I’ve seen things over the past year on American streets that I thought were resigned to other, uglier times. Folks trying to normalize hate, calling upon the most divisive, ugliest ghosts of our past. I hope we’re just going through a terrible chapter in the battle for the soul of our nation.”

On June 20, 2018, Springsteen, angered by the Trump administration’s efforts to minimize illegal migration into the United States, wrote on his website that “we are seeing things right now on our American borders that are so shockingly and disgracefully inhumane and un-American that it is simply enraging.” “And we have heard people in high positions in the American government blaspheme in the name of God and country that it is a moral thing to assault the children amongst us,” he added.

In November 2018, Springsteen told Esquire magazine that President Trump “has no interest in uniting the country” and “actually has an interest in doing the opposite and dividing us, which he does on an almost daily basis.” “So that’s simply a crime against humanity,” he continued, “as far as I’m concerned. It’s an awful, awful message to send out into the world if you’re in that job and in that position. It’s just an ugly, awful message. You are intentionally trying to disenfranchise a large portion of Americans. I mean, you are simply . . . that’s unforgivable.” Springsteen further condemned Trump for being “more than happy to play into and to play to” the “alt-right,” which the singer described as “folks who are invested in denying the idea of a united America and an America for all … and it’s so toxic.” Moreover, Springsteen told the magazine that “a lot of what’s going on has been a large group of people [Trump supporters] frightened by the changing face of the nation.”

In October 2019, Springsteen, in response to a video showing a “Keep America Great” stump speech by President Trump, told CBS’s Gayle King: “It’s just frightening, you know? We’re living in a frightening time. The stewardship of the nation … has been thrown away to somebody who doesn’t have a clue as to what that means.” He further characterized Trump as someone who doesn’t have a grasp of the deep meaning of what it means to be an American.” 

In a June 2020 interview with The Atlantic, Springsteen said, “I believe that our current president is a threat to our democracy. He simply makes any kind of reform that much harder. I don’t know if our democracy could stand another four years of his custodianship. These are all existential threats to our democracy and our American way of life.”

During a virtual interview with Down Under media outlets in October 2020, Springsteen announced that he would move to Australia if Donald Trump were to win re-election in November. “I love Australia,” he said. “Every time, we have nothing but good times down there. It’s always a treat to come. Love the people, love the geography, great place for motorcycle trips, it’s close to our hearts…. If Trump is re-elected – which he will not be; I’m predicting right now he’s gonna lose – [but] if by some happenstance he should be, I’ll see you on the next plane.”

During an October 2020 broadcast of his “E Street Radio” show on SiriusXM, Springsteen gave voice to his hatred for President Trump in the following remarks:

  • “It is time for an exorcism in our nation’s capital. In just a few days, we’ll be throwing the [Trump administration] bums out. I thought it was a fucking nightmare. But it was so true.”
  • “There’s no art in this [Trump] White House. There’s not literature, no poetry, no music. There are no pets in this White house. No loyal man’s best friend. No Socks, the family cat. No kids’ science fairs. No time when the president takes off his blue suit, red-tie uniform and becomes human. Except when he puts on his white shirt and khaki pants uniform and hides from the American people to play golf.”
  • “There are no images of the first family enjoying themselves together in a moment of relaxation. No Obamas on the beach in Hawaii moments, or Bush’s fishing in Kennebunkport. No Reagans on horseback, no Kennedys playing touch football on the Cape.”
  • “Where did that county go? Where did all the fun, the joy, and the expression of love and happiness go? We used to be the country that did the Ice Bucket Challenge and raised millions for charity. We used to have a president who calmed and soothed the nation instead of dividing it. And a first lady who planted a garden instead of ripping one out.” (Springsteen’s implication that First Lady Melania Trump “ripped out” the White House Rose Garden was entirely false. For details, click here.)
  • “We are rudderless and joyless. We have lost the cultural aspects of society that make America great. We have lost our mojo, our fun, our happiness, our cheering on of others. The shared experience of humanity that makes it all worth it. The challenges and the triumphs that we shared and celebrated, the unique can-do spirit that American has always been known for.”
  • “We are lost. we’ve lost so much in so short of time. On November 3, vote them out.”

Supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement

In another Rolling Stone interview which was published on October 6, 2016, Springsteen characterized the Black Lives Matter movement as a very logical and understandable reaction to America’s instransigent white racism. “Well, it’s all chickens coming home to roost,” he explained. “These are issues that have been ignored or hidden, and due to modern technology and the availability of cellphone cameras and constant video feed, these things are coming to the surface.” “Black Lives Matter is a natural outgrowth and response to the injustices that have been occurring for a very long time in the United States,” Springsteen added.

Presidential Medal of Freedom

At a November 22, 2016 White House ceremony, President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — given to individuals “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors” — to Springsteen and 20 other individuals. The other honorees were: television star Ellen DeGeneres, actor Robert Redford, actor Robert De Niro, singer Diana Ross, basketball icons Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan, actor Tom Hanks, philanthropists Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, architect Frank Gehry, TV producer Lorne Michaels, baseball announcer Vin Scully, NASA mathematician Margaret H. Hamilton, sculpture artist Maya Lin, actress Cicely Tyson, physicist Richard Garwin, Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padrón, attorney Newt Minow, the late computer scientist Grace Hopper, and the late Native American activist Elouise Cobell.

Friendship with the Obamas & Leftwing Celebrities

On April 14, 2017, Springsteen joined Barack and Michelle Obama for an excursion on billionaire music mogul David Geffen’s 454-foot, $300 million yacht. Other notable attendees included Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey.

Admitting That His “Working-Class Persona Was Fake

In a 2018 Netflix special titled Springsteen on Broadway, Springsteen acknowledged that the working-class persona which he had cultivated over the years was fraudulent: “I made it all up. I’ve never held an honest job in my entire life! I’ve never done any hard labor. I’ve never worked 9 to 5. I’ve never worked five days a week. Until right now.” “I come from a boardwalk town that is tinged with just a little bit of fraud,” he added. “So am I.”

Podcast Collaboration with Barack Obama

In February 2021, Springsteen and former President Barack Obama teamed up to host a new podcast, Renegades: Born in the U.S.A., featuring the two discussing a variety of topics, including race, fatherhood, marriage, and the state of America.

DWI Arrest

On November 14, 2020, Springsteen was arrested at the Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, on three separate charges: driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, and consuming alcohol in a closed area. He refused to take a breathalyzer test at the scene.

In February 2021, the DWI and reckless driving charges against Springsteen were dismissed, and he pleaded guilty only to “consuming alcohol in an enclosed area.” He was fined $540 for his transgression.

Performing at President Biden’s Inauguration

On January 20, 2021, Springsteen and John Legend were among the many left-wing celebrities who performed during the inauguration ceremonies of President Joe Biden.

Massive Wealth

As of September 2023, Springsteen’s estimated net worth was $650 million.

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