Yesterday I watched Michael Moore’s latest film on Netflix, Fahrenheit 11/9. It was a compelling viewing experience, largely centred on the 2016 United States presidential election. It shows in great detail a hypothesis as to how and why President Donald J. Trump was elected to the highest office in the free world.
The film explores how the bookmakers, media, celebrities and fellow politicians, including that from his party, got it wrong. No one thought that Trump would be elected, not even his people. Over here in the United Kingdom, we thought that it was unthinkable that Trump would be elected. We, like the American intelligentsia, did not take his campaign seriously, we thought that it would be tomorrows chip paper. But it wasn’t the first time this decade that the UK would get their political predictions wrong.
I have been a fan of Michael Moore since high school. I have always found his films informative, presenting a different view of American events. Being from the UK, I have always been able to take the stance of sitting on the fence, feeling that this doesn’t affect me directly. Sicko, the previous film of Moore’s films that I had seen was about the American health care system and a call for a national health program. Being from the UK, the film was interesting but I could sleep safe in the knowledge that we have an NHS, that I am proud of.
Fahrenheit 11/9 was different. It hit home a little too much. Though the film centred around the egomaniacal Trump, it also dealt with failings of the previous administration, globalism and the way that nations now put business first and their citizens last.
It is quite easy for Moore and myself to sit here and state that Trump and Brexit is a protest vote. That working-class, uneducated people voted with racial motives, with one eye on the good old days. Of course, that rhetoric was used on the campaign, but what Moore brings to light is how many communities have been splintered, smashed and forgotten about by the ruling elite.
During the industrial revolution, Manchester and the surrounding areas were the heartbeat for the UK economy. There are still remnants of factories in the city centre, though they are all luxury apartments now, not meant for the working class they once hosted. In the towns that surround the city, many of the factories have not been recycled but lie derelict haunted by former ghosts. During the late ’70s industry left for India, with no jobs to replace the ones that had gone. Many people who stayed in these poor ghost towns in the north have been left behind. With the expansive immigration policies that have been seen, rightly or wrongly as policies from the EU, there was no doubt that towns across the north were going to vote to leave in the Brexit referendum.
As Michael Moore points out in his film, you can not keep shitting on your people. I do not think that immigration is a problem in the UK, hell I voted to stay in the EU. But I do see why many of the people where I live voted to leave. Tax rises, austerity, lack of funding in the NHS, hospital waiting times increased, benefit cuts, zero-hour contracts, lack of school places, cuts to public services are all reasons to vote for change, though I may not agree with the change on offer.
If you haven’t seen the film I urge you to give it a try. I enjoyed it though I didn’t agree with all the points made. It did open my eyes and let me see other peoples point of view and I must admit I was shocked.
Till the next reboot…