Cher Is 'Not Going to Watch TV' on Election Night — but Will Be 'Jumping All Over' if Joe Biden Wins
Don't call Cher a hero.
"I'm cool," the icon, 74, tells PEOPLE over the phone from her home in Malibu, just days ahead of the 2020 election. "But I'm not a hero."
Many would beg to differ — especially considering her recent efforts to get people out to vote while on the campaign trail with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, on top of her decades of championing for women's and LGBTQ rights.
"Well, COVID-19 and voting are the only things that are important right now," Cher says humbly. "I just want people to know that in order for them to get back to a normal life — actually, a better life than we had before — I really believe that they've got to vote for Joe, and not just because he's kind, he's gentle and he's compassionate, but because he's smart. As far as I'm concerned, the things he wants to do will really set this country up in a way that I used to remember it."
This isn't Cher's first rodeo, after all. She's helped with the campaigns for past Democratic presidential nominees like Hillary Clinton and Al Gore, and she describes late ex-husband Sonny Bono as a "staunch Democrat" who attended the 1968 convention.
But this year, the stakes feel higher than ever before.
"Trump is like Nixon on steroids," Cher says. "I'm just praying that our people will vote in a quantity that he will not be able to change the vote. He's got a lot of dirty tricksters. You know? They're very creative."
Cher has long been outspoken about her disdain for Trump, 74, whom she has been criticizing on Twitter lately for his handling of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"I mean, I was crying this morning because I turned on the TV, and I saw this doctor and a nurse, they were sobbing," she says. "Tears were rolling down their cheeks because they can't do what they need to do [during this pandemic], and they don't have enough doctors and nurses. One doctor said that he was looking at this woman, and he remembered her because she had her children's names on a wristband. He said, 'I wished I could've told her what she wanted to hear, but I couldn't.' You think, 'Trump doesn't even mention these people.' He never mentions them. I don't think he cares, truthfully. I think that people realize who he is: a variety star. Or whatever he is. He's not even very good at what he does, whatever it is he does. I saw [his show] one time and thought, 'Oh, this is crap. I’m never watching this again.'"
In the past, Cher distinctly remembers feeling "unbelievably sad" while watching a man on TV once talk about his experience working on Trump's Taj Mahal in Atlantic City (which has since been rebranded as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino).
"His father had been one of the people that had laid the carpet in the Taj Mahal, or the drapery or something, and when he was finished, Trump said, 'You know what? It's not good enough. I'm not paying you,'" she says. "Then he said, 'But if you do the rest of it, I'll pay you a portion.' The man said that his father lost his business, something he was so proud of. He kept saying, 'One day I'll get my business back.' He died of a broken heart, and the son was ruined forever. Trump has no compassion."
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With the election drawing near, Cher admits she's "trying to not feel anything about anything" and is "not going to watch TV" that night.
"I'm just putting one foot in front of another, doing what they ask me to do and hoping for the best," she says.
If her hopes come to fruition and Biden, 77, is elected, she says she will celebrate by "jumping all over" her bed.
"Everybody in my house will be jumping," she says. "We'll go jump into the swimming pool. We'll run around, screaming at the top of our lungs. I'll call my mom, I'll call my sister, I'll call all my friends, and we will just be the happiest people that ever lived. It will be the happiest day of my life."
On the other hand, if Trump is reelected, Cher jokes her first thought will be, "Vancouver is a nice place."
Cher says she's already voted by mail, something she's been doing for years since she's usually out on the road touring. That's why it was important to her to show her support for her local post offices back in August, even calling them up and offering to volunteer after the USPS came under fire by Trump due to his dislike for mail-in voting, an option many Americans turned to amid the pandemic.
"They weren't that excited [to hear it was me on the phone], but then I went down to my local post office, and I did a rally with these ladies, and nobody showed up," Cher says. "I thought, 'This is really sad that people are not showing up in Malibu to make their voices heard.' So we just stayed there, like three of us. We stayed anyway.”
"I'm not sure people understand how important politics and their vote is to our country, our image in the world and also in the pandemic," she continues. "Trump has no idea what he's doing and doesn't care. It sounds very stupid to say this is life and death, but it actually is. This is the most important vote anyone will give."
While out on the campaign trail for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris, Cher says she has "absolutely" felt hopeful that the country can be turned around for the better.
"I've known Joe since 2006," she says. "I had wanted to see him because I thought that maybe he was too good to be true. He always thought that he invited me, but I invited myself. I sat down, and I just talked with him. I only anticipated talking with him for a little while, and I think we talked for like an hour or two hours. I was kind of cross-examining him, and I found him to be exactly who I thought he might be."
Cher put her feelings about Joe into words in her new song "Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe," a remake of the original tune sung by Ethel Waters in the 1943 film "Cabin in the Sky."
"One day, it just hit me, and I thought, 'I'd like to do something different,'" she says. "I thought about it for a long time, really, and I thought, 'There will be a time that it will be appropriate.'"
That time came on Oct. 25, when Cher introduced the song while closing "I Will Vote," an online benefit for the Biden Harris campaign.
"It seemed like that night was the right night," she says. "I was thinking that no matter what, Joe would find it sweet. That's kind of the way he is. And I changed the words to show what I feel about him."
Though she's never met Harris, 56, in person, Cher says she was "really impressed" by how she did during the vice presidential debate last month.
"I didn't have any thoughts about her, truthfully," she says. "But when I saw and heard her speak, I was really impressed. Actually, that's not true. I saw her grill some people as a senator and as an officer of the court. She was pretty terrific. I mean, none of them came out unscathed."
With everything going on in the world, Cher says she's been working on new music but "can't quite get all the way through to be inspired by it."
"There's some songs that I've been doing, and then I wait for a long time, because then something else happens," she says. "I'm worried about the state of the world. I'm worried about Black Lives Matter. I'm just worried about things that are so unbalanced. I mean, we need to find balance in this country, and that really bothers me."
During the Black Lives Matter protests, she says her eyes were opened to systemic racism in the country.
"I felt so ignorant until there were videos," she says. "I didn't see the inequity. I didn't see how awful it was. I have to tell you, in my business, we don't really have racism. You're either a good dancer or a bad dancer. You're either a good singer or a bad dancer, but that's not how we judge people. If you think back to Frank Sinatra, they had Sammy Davis Jr. as one of the Rat Pack, and nobody thought anything about it."
In order to make real, lasting change, Cher wants people to go out and vote (in her words: for Biden, of course).
"Just please get out and vote," she says. "It's the only weapon we have. It's the only way we can save ourselves. So just please vote."
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