In a matter of weeks, Donald Trump could very well be elected the next President of the United States. Not only can I not emphasize enough how much I don’t want this to happen, I also fail to understand how such a thing could be possible. I’ve spent that last eighteen months or so listening to his rhetoric: His insults against women; his Islamophobia; his megalomaniacal speeches; his offensive generalizing of Hispanic immigrants; his impossibly lofty economic plans; his immature reactions, many in the form of Tweets, to politicians or celebrities or journalists who have the temerity to question his tactics or who exercise their right to mock public figures.
Michael Moore is no fan of Donald Trump, either. And yet he does understand why Trump is winning many people over: He seems to be speaking on behalf of a disenfranchised American middle class, who even under the Obama Administration has been subject to the loss of jobs and benefits. When he comes at them with promises of making America great again, of course they’re going to respond positively. Upon entering voting booths on November 8, they will effectively be giving the middle finger to the America that let them down, the America that left them out in the cold, the America that isn’t great.
Moore explains this in Michael Moore in TrumpLand, not his typical documentary fare but rather a one-man show filmed in front of a live audience. More specifically, it was filmed at the Murphy Theatre in Wilmington, Ohio, a predominantly Republican city in a predominantly Republican state. The marquee outside the theater not only announces the event, it encourages anyone, including Trump supporters, to attend. When polled by Moore at the beginning of the show, it seems the audience is fairly evenly split between Trump and Clinton supporters, although a handful are either third-party or non-voters. Don’t you just love people who knowingly throw their votes away in a democracy?
Moore does a very good job of paying select members of the audience backhanded compliments while still coming off as funny and charming. He tells one man against same-sex marriage, for example, that he should show his disapproval, which he’s perfectly allowed to have, by not marrying another man. He also grandstands in hilarious fashion by hiring two groups of actors and placing them in the balcony section. One group represents Hispanics, and they’re promptly surrounded by a cardboard wall made to look like bricks. The other group represents Islams, and he has a drone hovering over them the entire time. This is done, Moore explains, to make the Trump supporters in the audience more comfortable.
And then we get to the meat of the show, with Moore making the case for why we should vote for Hillary Clinton instead of Trump. He begins with candor – he hasn’t previously ever supported Clinton as a politician. Even during the primaries earlier this year, he supported Bernie Sanders. He cites her initial support of the Iraq War as one of the reasons why. But soon afterwards, he gives her credit for acknowledging that supporting the war was a mistake, driven by the lie that Iraq was concealing weapons of mass destruction. He also understands now that she’s the Democratic candidate that she’s infinitely more qualified to be president than Trump. Most importantly, he sees her first and foremost as a human being and regards her accomplishments as a woman in America very highly.
Indeed, he regards the strides made by American women in general over the past several decades, including outnumbering men as college students and an increase in the number of women who are single. Moore states that the percentage of adult white men in America has dropped to 13%, and speculates – humorously, but not without a kernel of genuine conviction – that they’re afraid to elect the first female American president, not only because it signals their eventual demise, but also because it can potentially pave the way for the first gay president, the first transgendered president, and the first vegan president.
Moore takes offense at the way Clinton was treated over the years by the media, especially during times when she tried to bring universal health care to the U.S. He also plays a clip from his now-cancelled TV show The Awful Truth, in which Clinton receives nothing but praise from a very surprising source. Ultimately, Michael Moore in TrumpLand has Moore wondering whether Clinton can be America’s answer to Pope Francis, who has been notably more accepting and liberal in an institution as traditionally conservative as the Catholic Church. Perhaps she can be. We won’t know unless we elect her, which we really should do.