The idea of this movement is to get millions of disgruntled Americans to send postcards to the White House to maybe grab the attention of this administration and do what is right for the people, not what is right for a few people’s own special interests.
I had found this movement on a Facebook posting by a chance search. Full disclosure, I got into a debate with the runner of the page. Couldn’t help myself. Then I reached out and they were gracious enough to give me this interview.
Ted Sullivan is a screen writer and producer in Hollywood. He has worked on numerous projects including Supergirl to Law and Order: Criminal Intent.
I had asked him if he would like to start this interview off by speaking about his work outside of the movement. He answered with a, “I’m not sure how it ties in to anything related to this political protest?”
There was a time when people listened to musicians, artists, writers and even actors. We trusted what they said. If we didn’t agree with them we at least respected them as citizens of this great nation. Don’t forget, California not only elected two different actors as governor, but one of them was elected President in the 80’s.
Kidman J. Williams:
What is your title at Ides of Trump? Are you a founding member or a spokesman?
Hollywood script writer Ted Sullivan
Ted Sullivan of Ides of Trump:
We don’t really have titles or spokespeople. My friend Zack is the true father of the idea. I’m more like the crazy uncle who stumbles in with a lot of opinions. But we’ve both been trying to do this while juggling our professional lives and family. And we’ve been really lucky, too. A lot of great people have come helped us create a secure website, design logos and images. They’ve all donated their time because they were inspired by the idea amd felt they wanted to help get the word out. But it’s a total grassroots program. We don’t pay to promote it or anything. But within a week of launching, we’ve got tens of thousands of people on board. And we’re always trying to expand it. I hope it continues to grow.
How did the Ides of Trump movement get started? What was it that inspired you to get involved in such an out-of-the-box movement?
The Ides of Trump came from my friend Zack. He brought his little daughter to the Women’s March. It was obviously a great experience, but kinda stressful, too. It was really crowded, and I think he kind of wished there was a way for parents and young kids to participate without being in the middle of hundreds of thousands of people.
A few days later, I was up visiting him in Berkeley, along with some our other friends. This guy Sean and Brad. We were all expressing our excitement at being part of the different marches. Brad and his family went to Washington. Sean and Zack were in Northern California. I’d been down in LA, where it was just bananas. And we were all raving about the incredible protest signs we’d seen.
Zack said he wanted to mail them to White House and brought up the idea of turning the signs into post cards. That got us talking. We all started “yes-and”ing each other. At first we thought of Valentine’s Day. We thought it would be great to get people to send Trump Valentine Day cards. And I think is still a great idea for next year. But I was concerned we didn’t have enough time to get people up to speed or get the word out. We talked about Tax Day, but there was already a march scheduled for then. I then suggested the middle of March. The Ides of March. And then Zack and Sean said at the exact same time, “The Ides of Trump.” In a writer’s room, when something like that happens, you kinda know you got something worth exploring. So the idea stuck.
Zack ran with it the next day. He set up our online presence. Then he and I started passing copy back and forth to each other. He’s really good at that. Figuring out how to get people zeroed in on the idea. I got artist friends I know to help out with some images and then we started spreading it around.
I managed to call on some of my friends in entertainment. Actors and musicians. Writers. People who have access to a big audience. And some started to help us get the word out. But in general, it’s been a natural, self-propelling engine.
Some people have said we’re stupid, because Trump will just ignore them or throw the postcards away. No shit. It’s not like he’s going to keep them for his Presidential Library. But I do believe this can get under his skin. I do believe he will hate seeing thousands of postcards showing up every day with #TheIdesOfTrump written on them. Or addressed to “President Bannon.”
We totally get that this isn’t going to convert any Trump voters. Trump will do that himself when he doesn’t bring back the jobs he promised or when cuts their health care. And we sure as hell don’t think we’re going to change Trump’s mind. That’s impossible. What we are trying to do is keep up the pressure with an easily promotable event.
We’re trying to remind the press to stay focused. We’re trying to tell members of Congress on both sides of the aisle that we are watching their every move. And our outrage is not going away. We need to maintain our moral outrage. Because this fight isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. And we have to create markers along the road to run to. The Ides of Trump is in the middle of March. We got that covered. Other people can fill out some other dates in the calendar.
What kind of things do you expect to be said in these postcards? You want to send postcards out to the White House to have millions of peoples’ voices heard. And you keep addressing President Trump as the “President (for now).” What is the end goal of this movement?
Well, like I said before, we want people to turn their protest signs into postcards. And come up with new ones. Lord knows Trump and his team of clowns are providing material for new signs every day.
But one thing we’re very clear about NOT wanting to see on the postcards is anything violent. Or any calls for violence. Our referencing the Ides of March is about voicing dissent. We want to undermine Trump with humor, sarcasm and righteous indignation.
Look, Zack is a writer. I’m a writer. Our friend Sean is a writer. Brad is a songwriter. And we all passionately believe the pen is way mightier than the sword. Unless, of course, someone is jamming you in the chest with a sword. But we’re all anti-violent. Wow. I know. What a brave stance. But regardless, we won’t put up with that kind of bullshit on our site or feeds. Because we think it undermines the message.
One of our goals is to mess with Trump. To get under his incredibly thin skin. To keep the press focused on the real story. And, ideally, to get Congress to do their fucking job and investigate Trump. Look into his goddam finances.
And honestly, I’d love to drive that guy out of the White House. Just force him to quit. And I kind of believe that’s maybe possible. Trump’s a notorious quitter. He’s weak. The guy runs whenever things get tough. I can’t imagine he’s going to be able to handle the pressures of this job. So, we’d love to make his life so shitty and uncomfortable that he just gives up. Pipe dream? Maybe. But maybe not.
Because Trump is perhaps the only President we’ve ever had whose life was unquestionably better outside politics. Politicians usually need to stay elected to have all the good stuff they love. But Trump had it before he was President. He was famous. A celebrity. He could do whatever he wanted. He’s got a golden toilet, for Christ’s sake. He lives in a fucking golden tower. He used to be able to do whatever he wanted. It was fun.
Now people expect him to work. And harder than he’s ever worked before. That’s got to be miserable for him. I mean, just look at the pictures of the guy. He looks like someone broke his favorite toy. I mean, he’s had to take three goddamn vacations in his first goddamn month in office. That is not the sign of a man enjoying the gig. Or handling it well.
I’ve heard it from many Liberals that they want Trump impeached. If the people are wanting that, are they prepared for what Mike Pence will bring to the White House?
Well, I would hope it was more than liberals. I would hope it’s anyone who is concerned about democracy and the legitimacy of our President. I would hope it was Republicans who are increasingly concerned about his erratic behavior. His strange man crush for Putin. His insistence that leaks are more important than what the leaks revealed. His Muslim ban that he claimed wasn’t a Muslim ban except when he said it was a Muslim ban. Him siding with Russians and Wikileaks over U.S. intelligence. His odd reticence to even discuss or examine Russia’s interference in the election. His desire to push actual fake news while calling out real news. These are big, big issues. Troubling ones. And they’re not limited to “liberals.” And they’re certainly not “partisan.”
And, I totally agree that Pence is WAY worse. Trump is a clown. He’s mentally unstable and — well, let’s say “not intellectual.” He can’t even answer direct questions. It’s like he’s learned how to speak phonetically and doesn’t understand the meaning of any words other than “big,” “huge,” “loser” and “sad.” It’s astounding.
But Pence is totally way more dangerous, because he is not an idiot. He knows how to use politics. He knows how to game the system. He’s respected by his party and far more liked by the Republican power brokers.
But I also believe that if Trump is ousted, it will be messy and ugly and devastating to the Republican party. There would be a power grab unlike anything we’ve ever seen. There would be distrust and disillusionment within their own voters. It would be incredible. And Pence would be tainted. He’d either be the fool who was tricked by a lunatic or a willing participant in a crooked administration. Both outcomes are disastrous for the GOP and Pence personally.
But regardless — getting Trump out office doesn’t mean “the work is done.” I firmly believe we as a nation have been far too fat, lazy and happy. We’ve been focused on iPhones and reality shows and football games. And the whole time, behind the scenes, corruption on both sides has festered. So there’s a lot of work to do. But just because Pence is bad, we should keep Trump in power? I don’t understand that reasoning.
All the things that Liberals are scared of could come to fruition under a Pence presidency couldn’t it? I mean, do you really think Trump trying to get rid of the separation of Church and State was all his idea? I don’t.
Of COURSE I agree that the religious agenda is all Pence. Trump doesn’t give a shit about religion. Look at how he lives his life. He thinks he’s god. But Pence is actually a believer. He doesn’t wear his faith like a complimentary sports coat given to him by a steak house to cover up his Anthrax tee-shirt. And that’s what freaks me out about him. I’m always way more scared of true believers than cheap opportunists.
And one of the biggest problems I have with mainstream politics is religion. There should be no religion in politics. I am happily and proudly Atheistic. I don’t get religion. I stopped believing when I was 11 years old. Because even as a child, it made no sense to me. I actually find comfort in not believing in a god. I find solace in knowing we’re on this rock hurtling through space for a handful of decades — if we’re lucky — and then we die. And we are reabsorbed into the universe. The science behind that is beautiful, elegant and logical.
If someone wants to believe in god, fine. I don’t care. I do care when they force their beliefs on me. And jam it into our political system. Which is why Pence totally scares me. He’s far more focused on rolling back civil rights, pushing a religious agenda and attacking women’s rights. But, like I said, I also believe the GOP would be stuck in a historic shit storm if Trump goes. And Pence’s political power would be in tatters. Tough to be an effective leader from that position. You ain’t exactly Emperor Palpatine. You’re more like Jar Jar Binks.
If Trump doesn’t get thrown out of office, what would be the most singular message that you would want to get out to President Trump?
I think Trump’s totally beyond learning. He’s not Kennedy coming into office, capable of evolving his point of view on civil rights. He’s a spoiled child in the bloated body of a geriatric man. Nothing we’re trying to do with this movement is geared toward “educating Trump.” That’d be a waste of time and energy.
I don’t know. Maybe the one message we’d hope to get across to him is “not on our watch.” I admit, I’d love for him to see how poorly he ultimately does at the job. I’d love for him to fail spectacularly. Because I hate bullies. I was bullied as a kid. Beat up a lot. Hell, I even had my ‘cello smashed to pieces like I was in some shitty 80s comedy. I got bullied so badly, my parents pulled me out of school and sent me to another one in a different town. It’s why I’ve hated bullies. And Trump’s the ultimate one.
What do you think when the internet trolls lash out against Hollywood actors/actresses and musicians for speaking their minds about politics?
I don’t think about them at all. Engaging a troll is like arguing with a drunk person. I mean, why should an actress or actor not speak their mind? Or have an opinion? And if these trolls are suggesting someone doesn’t have the right to express their own opinions, doesn’t that immediately invalidate their own? Why the hell should I listen to them? It’s literally one of the stupidest, most indefensible statements you can make.
And, do they say the same thing about a plumber who agrees with them? Do they tell a mechanic to shut up? What about a conservative movie star who shares their point of view? Do they tell them to keep quiet? I doubt it. But hypocrisy rarely silences stupidity.
I’m not saying that actors and writers aren’t capable of saying insanely, soul crushingly stupid things. I’ve seen it first hand. But I think people should be judged on the merits of their words, not what they do for a living. I’ve met really smart janitors and really stupid professors. But if someone is well informed and coherent, I wouldn’t care if they were a waitress or a Nobel laureate. I would just be impressed by their comments. And if you’re trying to silence someone just because they’re famous or because of their job, I think the real problem is you.
It just seems that at one time in our history (example: the 60’s, 70’s, and even the 80’s) people really looked at musicians especially for some kind of social/political guidence. What do you think changed?
What changed? Money. That’s not a big secret. It’s just obvious. It’s hard to be political when you have an album that costs $10 million. Or a movie that costs $150 million. The bigger expense, the smaller the risk you’re allowed to take. And the less chance an artist has to make a personal statement. Lawyers start coming in and telling you “you can’t say that. We’ll lose some of our audience. We need to maximize profits and demographics”
But I think some people are still out there being political. Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, right? They’re always there. My in-laws are pretty conservative and they listen to a lot of country. Sure seems like some of those singers have a political point of view. May not be mine, but they’re out there doing it.
I also think, in general, we as a culture got distracted by the pretty, shiny thing. In the 70s, rock got bloated. Arena rock. Prog rock. The message got lost. By the time we reached Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian a generation later, who knows what pop culture was anymore. The message got even more muddled. Tough to be sincere or political in that market. But I guess some people did. Public Enemy. Alicia Keys seems to have a point of view.
It’ll probably change. I think it already has. I mean, did you see Milck and the GW sirens on Samantha Bee? Holy shit, that was amazing. And that was borne directly out of resisting Trump. Hell, now that I think about it, Samantha Bee and FULL FRONTAL has been on fucking fire. She’s an incredible voice of dissent. That’s some of the best political comedy I’ve ever seen. John Oliver, too. So smart. Well researched. I think those two are providing incredible counter culture material. Even SNL, right? They’re doing some pretty funny stuff for the first time in like decades. Seth Meyers, too. So it’s out there.
I think we can all agree that President Trump himself is not a racist, maybe a misogynist and a bigot (just kidding — sort of). What do you think it is that attracts the Alt-Right and other racist groups to him or do you think it is just that those groups always vote Republican?
First off, I don’t think Republicans are automatically racist. I know a lot of people who aren’t. I mean, I guess you could argue we’re all racist on a deeper level. But individually, I have family members and friends who are both Republican and not racist.
I think what actually happened — and this is just an opinion — but Trump got a lot of first time voters. A lot of people who never got involved before. Who felt ostracized. Who were outside of the normal voting system and decided to throw their support behind someone who was bold enough to lie blatantly in a way most politicians don’t.
I think there are problems with both Democrats and Republicans. They all lie. They all exaggerate. They all make promises they don’t intend to keep. But Trump functioned on a different level. With a brashness and overtly racist text that made some people happy. They felt they were finally being listened to. Like this guy got it.
I think a lot of people over the past thirty years have been quietly stewing in the corner. They got told by elitist liberals “You can’t say that.” So they didn’t. They just thought it to themselves. Quietly. In their heads. And over time, they felt oppressed for their “beliefs.” We made them the victims. Because no one on the Left bothered to explain WHY it was wrong to say those things. And that’s a failure of the left. Our arrogance bred contempt.
And then finally Trump came alone and said “You’re right! And they’re wrong!” And Trump’s people capitalized on that. Not Trump. He’s far too dumb. But Bannon and his people? They knew how to light that kindling. And they knew they had a guy who was egotistical enough to get riled up by the cheers. Who was too stupid and too arrogant to care that what he was saying was vile and awful. They knew he’d just soak up the glory. Trump was their monkey who danced for the crowd. And the crowd loved it.
Some voters hated his racism and sexism and xenophobia, but they voted for him anyway. Mainly because of jobs, I think. But, I’m sorry, if you begrudgingly stand with a racist — even one who is just repeating racism from a script — you’re supporting racism. I told family members who tried to get me to vote for Trump “racism is a deal breaker. Sexism is a deal breaker.” Life is usually gray. But this is black and white.
Plus, he’s not bringing back any jobs! He lied. All of them are lying when they say factories are coming back. They’re lying when they say illegal immigrants stole their jobs. Factories went overseas. They’re gone. Robots are making our cars. Those jobs aren’t coming back. Trump’s people know that. McConnell knows that. Ryan knows that. But they all lied — openly and overly — just to win. And people were desperate and ignored enough to believe the lies. So, they ended up convincing themselves that a rich guy who was born rich and got richer taking advantage of people just like them was “their guy.”
It’s kind of incredible. But also understandable. Because as Bernie Sanders kept saying, we were ignoring a large sect of the public. A public we had systematically let down and made them feel bad about themselves. People don’t grow and change and evolve if they’re just put in a corner and yelled at and mocked. You need to reach out to them. Educate them. Help them grow. Evolve.
Instead, we treated them like latch key kids. We left them alone with Uncle Sean Hannity and Aunt Megyn Kelly. And we wonder why they grew up to have a racist view of the world? Come on! That’s on us. We own this problem. Which is why I think we need to help fix it.
Finally, in your eyes, is Trump really that dangerous to society or is President Trump just another version of the same politicians that we’ve always had in office?
I think I can sense what you’re getting at here. You’re trying to trick me into saying that one side is great and the other side is bad. And I don’t feel that way. I’ve already said that. Am I happy that Obama deported more people than any President in history? No. Was I happy about his reliance on drone strikes in the Middle East? Or his close ties to Wall Street? Of course not.
But if you’re trying to say that there is no difference between Trump and Obama, we’ll have to respectfully disagree. The Affordable Health Care Act may be imperfect, but it has helped millions of people and changed the face of the industry. It insured people who couldn’t get covered before. Including my nephew who has a heart disease. A child who couldn’t get covered now can. You can spin however you want, but that legislation helped a lot of people. And I think it’s why so many angry people are showing up to town hall meetings now.
Obama signed Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform, which again, is not perfect, but a step in the right direction. He changed the discussion toward Climate Change, which I believe is the single greatest threat the planet faces. He repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Ended Torture policies from the Bush administration. Established Net Neutrality, changed Federal Student Loan programs, refocused the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights divisions. These are all important things that impact low income citizens. Populations that are typically ignored or discarded or vilified. That’s an important difference from the current President, who panders exclusively to the rich and powerful.
The Democrats are not perfect in any way. But they at least don’t deny climate change. They spend some time talking about civil rights. Women’s rights. Look at Obama’s final speech. I thought it was pretty incredible. He challenged us all to think about race. He asked African-American voters to think about the angry white voters who put Trump in the office and empathize with their pain. He asked us to embrace reason and science. It was a beautiful, powerful and in my perspective, brave speech. Maybe one of the best of his life. And I think it’s far too simplistic to equate Trump with Obama.
And I think George W. Bush’s speech defending Muslim Americans and differentiating the Muslim religion from radical terrorism is another beautiful and enlightened position. And certainly one beyond the mental and moral abilities of the current President, who is a racist, hateful blowhard. So, yeah, I think Trump is worse. I think Pence is worse. I think we’re in a unique time in American history. And I think that’s why so many people are taking to the streets. And it sure as hell is why we started The Ides of Trump. And we hope a lot of people will join us on March 15th. We’ll be joining them over the next four years in this fight. It’s going to be a long one.