Last night we found Russell Simmons hiding out in one of the VIP booths at Chinatown Brasserie at the after-party for the Tribeca Film Festival’s Pray The Devil Back To Hell. Mr. Simmons, wearing one of his signature V-neck sweater vests and a Yankees cap, was thinking about politics.
It’s finally nice out, any plans for the summer?
I’ve got my house in the Hamptons. I hold a lot of charity events for Diamond Empowerment Fund, the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, and the Hip Hop Summit there.
Wow, you’re pretty lazy.
Ha. People say I’m doing it but really it’s the people around me that are doing it. How about this election though?
How about it!?
I think one of them has to be vice president. I think it’s the rudest thing in the world, it’s a disservice to the country if either one of them is turned down for the job. [Barack] Obama would lose a great number of people or if Hillary Clinton becomes a nominee, she would lose a great number of people, because no progressive voices, no African-Americans, no civil rights leaders, could put it back for her. Only Obama can put it back for her. And Senator Obama can make some choices, but it doesn’t look like there’s a lot he can do without her either.
I work with a lot of politicians. It’s amazing how big their egos are. But, in this case, it’s a horrible thing to show the world that you have that much ego. Your legacy if you’re a Clinton will be severely damaged if you can’t be gracious enough to serve this country. If she didn’t do it and if he didn’t offer it to her, that’d be sad. Everyone could see that Senator Obama with Senator Clinton is strong as hell and everyone can see that Senator Clinton with Senator Obama is strong as hell and anything less than that, the polls show you that they’re in a lot of trouble. And they should not put this country in jeopardy over something as selfish as ego.
So you’re betting on Obama?
I think he is a more progressive candidate, he’s got a history of activism, he’s a unifier, he represents so many ideas of conflict resolution and poverty. He’ll be a more progressive voice and probably do a little more to resist the corporations that have made all the choices for our foreign and domestic policy that have hurt us so badly.
Think there’s any chance of John McCain being our next president?
Of course it can happen. Everybody thought there was no difference between President Bush and Al Gore. Well, we sure found out. Corporations had a lot to do with that invasion and the thirst for American power and fuel and military might. There are a lot of reasons for Iraq, but most agree that fuel and corporations had a lot to do with it. It showed there was a difference. We had a chance for world peace after 9/11 and we blew it. We could have been respected leaders, and we fucked it up.