Robert Redford: D.C. Politics Is 'Paralyzed System'

Robert Redford 2 - P - 2014
Associated Press

"There’s too much partisan warfare. It’s sad," the actor said after the unveiling of Pitzer College's new environmental initiative.

Robert Redford isn't optimistic that the Obama administration will make progress on enacting climate-change legislation. 

"Am I disappointed in the outcome? Somewhat, not entirely," the actor told The Hollywood Reporter. "You have to look at what [President Obama's] up against. There’s never been a more paralyzed system to try to work with."

Redford spoke to THR on Saturday after a press conference unveiling a fossil-fuel divestment, climate-action model at Pitzer College, where he is a trustee. The conservationist elaborated that his waning faith in politics stemmed in part from increased partisan sniping.

He described revisiting archival footage of the Watergate Commission that he was using for All the President’s Men Revisited, a documentary that aired on the Discovery Channel last year. The scene that hit him “like a ton of bricks” was one in which he observed a panel interrogating former Nixon White House counsel John Dean.

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“They were all working together to get to the truth. There was no partisanship in that panel at all,” Redford told THR. “All you have to do is watch that moment and see how it was then and just know how it is today. That just wouldn’t exist. There’s too much partisan warfare. It’s sad.”

In such a polarized environment, the public interest becomes a casualty, the actor said.

Redford said he was impressed by Pitzer senior Jess Grady-Benson, who spoke about the campaign she and her peers launched that led to the the school's action model. The Claremont campus will become the first higher education campus in Southern California to implement an initiative to divest its fossil-fuel stocks. These student-activists helped push into motion the five-point plan, which also aims to reduce Pitzer’s carbon footprint by 25 percent.

“It’s a form of activism that’s positive. You’ve got anarchy, and then you’ve got the other kind of activism, but one can hardly blame anyone for feeling anarchist right now with the way things are,” said Redford. “Still, the idea of activism I don’t think should be seen in a negative way, particularly as it applies to young people. For young people to be active, I think it’s just terrific.”