Written by James Viator, A freelance writer
Back in September of 2016, it looked like U2 was going to announce itself as a powerful voice of opposition to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Granted, this would be a fair expectation for anyone who knows the inclusive and generally liberal views of Bono and the band. But at the iHeart Radio Festival, U2 made a bold statement, blasting Trump with the simple question, "what do you have to lose?" accompanied by some video content. Clearly referring to the possibility of a Trump win, Bono declared the answer to that question to be "everything."
It's worth putting this performance in context. The concert was on the eve of the first presidential debate, when Hillary Clinton had a lead and many expected it to widen as she got the opportunity to expose Trump's policy ignorance face-to-face. For the most part, over the course of the next month and three debates, Clinton would do just that - and her lead in the polling did indeed increase. By late October, about a month after U2's performance, many were predicting a landslide, and even notoriously cautious bookmakers declared it a done deal that Clinton would win the White House. This is why, when Trump won in early November, there was genuine shock throughout the United States and the world.
Now, this is not at all to suggest that U2 contributed to that widening gap in the polls, but merely to suggest the band was riding a wave. September of 2016 was not a time for anti-Trump people to make desperate arguments or chew their fingernails nervously. It was a time to drive home the last surge of enthusiasm in a contentious campaign that looked as if it was finally going to turn out okay. It felt the same as watching Clinton dominate the third debate, or seeing her appear alongside LeBron James in Ohio.