‘I’m deadly serious’: why film-maker Michael Moore is confident of a Democratic midterm win
For the past month, Academy Award-winning documentary maker Michael Moore has been emailing out a daily missive, Mike’s Midterm Tsunami of Truth, on why he believes Democrats will win big in America’s midterm elections next month.
Moore calls it “a brief honest daily dose of the truth – and the real optimism these truths offer us”. It also – at this moment in time – flies in the face of most political punditry, which sees a Republican win on the cards.
Related: Biden implores US oil companies to pass on record profits to consumers
Making predictions is a risky undertaking in any election cycle, but especially in this round, with Democrats banking they can hitch Republican candidates to an unpopular supreme court decision to overturn federal guarantees of a woman’s right to abortion. Republicans, meanwhile, are laser-focused on high inflation rates, economic troubles and fears over crime.
But political forecasting has become Moore’s business since he correctly called that Donald Trump would win the national elections in 2016, against common judgment of the media and pollsters businesses.
The thrust of his reasoning that this will be “Roe-vember” is amplified daily in the emails. In missive #21 (Don’t Believe It) on Tuesday, he addressed the issue of political fatalism, specifically the media narrative that the party in power necessarily does poorly in midterm elections.
“The effect of this kind of reporting can be jarring – it can get inside the average American’s head and scramble it,” Moore wrote. “You can start to feel deflated. You want to quit. You start believing that we liberals are a bunch of losers. And by thinking of ourselves this way, if you’re not careful, you begin to manifest the old narrative into existence.”
Reached by telephone last week, Moore, 68, said that his purpose, in effect, is to puncture herd-thinking. He points to three recent examples where political norms were wrongly interpreted.
“If I said to you six months ago, ‘you know Kansas, right? It’s a huge pro-abortion state and this summer by a margin of 60% they’re going to keep abortion legal’ you’d think I had made a crazy statement,” he says.
“If I’d told you at the same time that in the congressional election in Alaska, a hard red state, that it’s not only going to be won by a Democrat but a Native Alaskan Democrat, again you’d have to question if I was out of my mind.”
Finally, he draws attention to Boise, Idaho, where an incumbent Republican candidate for the board of education was endorsed by a far-right group, the Idaho Liberty Dogs, and lost to an 18-year-old high school senior and progressive activist, Shiva Rajbhandari, who was also co-founder of the Boise chapter of the climate group Extinction Rebellion.
In each case, Moore says, conventional thinking was challenged.
“I have a high-school education so probably, maybe, you shouldn’t be getting your news from me, if you’d just been paying attention in the last six months to Kansas, Idaho and Alaska you’d have seen the red flags going up,” he says.
Moore likes to go off in a different direction. He comes from Michigan with its strong connections to anti-government movements – Moore went to the same high school as Oklahoma bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols.
His read is not metropolitan-orientated. Last year he wrote that Democrats have “insurrectionist envy” of the January 6 Capitol riot. “Deep down in your soul, as you watched what your eyes could not believe was happening, admit to me that in that appalling moment on January 6, 2021, you were – how do I say it – jealous that it was the fascists who had risen up, and not us long before now,” he wrote.
Moore insists he’s not simply being provocative in predicting a Democrat landslide. “I’m sixty-eight and I don’t have time to mess around. I’m deadly serious.”
Moore predicts the election will see a record turnout of younger voters whose views pundits and commentators often miss. “If you spend any time with women, the Dobbs decision struck them personally and deeply. This was a religious edict based on conservative Catholic principles.”
Moore’s political musings are not limited to critical observations of the right. Missteps by Democrats are also apparent. “The biggest hurdle to what I’m doing with the series is the Democratic party,” he says. He’s been watching Democrat governor and state election debates on the US public broadcaster C-Span.
“It’s very disheartening and it would make even me question how we’re going to pull this off. The Democratic party consultants are feeding lines that are so lame and weak. They don’t go for the jugular like a Republican would. It doesn’t inspire people at home.”
“We stand here on the precipice of a very important election and our greatest enemy could be the Democratic party itself,” he adds.
But Moore has a further point, often made but not always heeded, that the biggest political grouping in the US is not Republicans or Democrats, but non-voters. This non-voter party, which is perhaps the most potentially powerful but also the most inaccessible, is the group Moore wants to reach.
“The non-voter party don’t see how politics benefits them, they’re disgusted with the hypocrisy, a lot are disgusted with the crazy fighting that goes on, and the craziness that Trump amped up,” Moore says, adding that when he turns on the TV in the evening he doesn’t necessarily go to a news channel but looks for a comedy.
Moore’s call-to-arms, then, is to reach the non-believers. “Everyone who does care, and feels like our democracy could be hanging on by a thread” now “has to do something in these last three weeks”.
In his case, he says, it could be as simple as calling a cousin who doesn’t vote to give her reasons why, this time, it’s important and that “she can go back to non-voting after this.”
But what would he say to them?
“Aren’t you tired of nothing getting done? All this deadlock bullshit. One way to undo this logjam is to give Democrats a chance to pass legislation and let’s see how it works out. Maybe it won’t work. Maybe they’ve got bad ideas. But no idea and no decision is paralyzing and hurts the country. If we talk like that, talk normal, that could be a huge help.”