Award-winning filmmaker and provocateur Michael Moore wants you to be afraid. The people have been disenfranchised by foreign and big money interests. Donald Trump, warns Moore, may indeed be the last president of the United States, and the upcoming 2018 election may be the last chance to fight back.
Moore made an appearance at the Washington, D.C., premiere of his documentary, “Fahrenheit 11/9,” at a packed AMC Uptown Theater on Monday, Sept. 17. The two-hour film, which will be released nationwide on Sept. 21, is about the 2016 presidential election and the subsequent presidency of Donald Trump. After the screening, Moore took questions for a half hour.
The title is a twist on the name of Moore’s 2004 film, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which took aim at the administration of President George W. Bush and his war on terror. “11/9” refers to Nov. 9, 2016, when Trump was declared president in the early morning. Moore emphasizes that Trump won not according to the popular vote, which he lost to Hillary Clinton, but by the electoral college, a constitutional anachronism that should be done away with.
The first part of the film recounts Trump’s history, taking us through the final days of the 2016 election. Trump the person then fades into the background as Moore begins to focus on the structural factors that enabled his election.
Moore directed much of his ire toward corporate America and the mainstream media (“Capitalism has destroyed the free press”), the “Old Guard” Democratic Party, which he claims prevaricates on principles, and even President Barack Obama, for downplaying the danger of tainted water in Moore’s hometown, Flint, Michigan.
Democrats, according to Moore, should stop trying to appeal to Trump voters. Rather, they need to energize the voters on their own side, many of whom sat out the 2016 election. The largest party in America is the “non-voters party,” he says. In 2016, 100 million didn’t vote, compared to 60 million who voted for Trump and 63 million who voted for Clinton.
”[Trump’s backers] believe they are at war … the only way we can stop them is that there is more of us than there are of them,” said Moore.
Moore drew inspiration from activists like the teens from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who, on a shoestring budget, organized one of the largest demonstrations in the history of the nation’s capital.
In one of the more provocative parts of the film, Moore conjured up images of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Germany was an educated, enlightened, cultured society and one of the more liberal democracies in the world before Hitler’s party gained power through an election. Then there was a terrorist event (the 1933 Reichstag fire), allowing Hitler to consolidate power while people were afraid. To paraphrase Moore, we have to be cautious that if a real emergency were to happen, we should not allow Trump to take away our democratic rights because he has to “protect us.”
According to Moore, Trump does not like democracy and prefers to rule as an autocrat. There is only one election that matters: The next one on Nov. 6, 2018. Democrats should not be too complacent that they will win back the House. We may not even have an election in 2020, warns Moore. (A poll conducted by two academics and published in the Washington Post in August of 2017 found that 52 percent of people who identified as or lean Republican said they would support postponing the 2020 election to ensure that only eligible citizens could vote if it were proposed by President Trump.)
“What I see is that the country is over two-thirds female, people of color or young voters between the ages of 18 and 35. That’s almost 70 percent of the country. That’s America, not old white guys like you and me. Repubicans have won the popular vote just once in six of the last seven presidential elections … The American people don’t want Republicans in the White House … Republicans have everything, and yet the country doesn’t like them. So, how is that? I ask that question in the film.”
View Jeff Malet’s photos from the Washington, D.C., premiere of “Fahrenheit 11/9” by clicking on the photo icons below.