I was saddened this morning to hear of the passing of Ron Silver. The talented actor, perhaps best known for his apparances as political campaign strategist Bruno Gianelli on The West Wing, and as attorney Alan Dershowitz in the true-life drama Reversal of Fortune, was also a Tony-award-winner, for his role in Speed-The-Plow.
I enjoyed Silver's work quite a lot - especially on The West Wing. But I admired Silver far more for his political activism, and for his refusal to be painted with the brush of any political party. Silver considered the use of his celebrity for political purposes to be a duty, not a privilege or a bid to be Hollywood-trendy. His causes swung wildly from the far left of the political spectrum to the far right - even as his friends in Hollywood grew to shun him in his later years for failing to blindly fall in line with what was expected of him - to be a Bush-bashing unquestioning liberal Hollywood Democrat.
How liberal was Silver? Well, in 1990, he co-founded the Creative Coalition, a Hollywood political activist group, along with other actors like Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins and Alec Baldwin - the very definition of Hollywood liberal. The group took an active role in lobbying Congress on traditionally-Democrat things, including the environment, women's issues, and protecting the arts.
Then, after 9/11, Silver found himself aligning more with the GOP in terms of how the U.S. should be dealing with terrorism, and he was vocal in his support of the Bush administration's policies. He even addressed the 2004 GOP convention - a move that could have (but in all honesty, probably didn't) cost him a great deal of acting work. To see Silver's take on his journey to Pariahville in his own words, click here.
I won't spend any time debating the merits of Silver's stance on any of these issues. That would be irrelevant. My admiration of his comes from the fact that he had the courage of his convictions - the guts to create his own political platform and to be an activist, regardless of what it cost him both personally and professionally.
The world would be a much better place if we all could be as strong as Ron Silver.
Thank you, Ron.