Was that really Michael Moore I saw on Hardball Wednesday night saying he’s been “in love with” Hillary Clinton for 23 years? It sure looked like him. The hair. The ball cap. The jowls. Sounded like him too, that accent thick as a Lake Huron fog. So yes—it was him.
I was driving somewhere and listening to the show in my car, and I about had to pull over to the side of the road. On and on he gushed and re-gushed: “I am serious. In 1993, this woman decided to risk everything and put it all out there so that we could all have universal health care. And she went for it. And she was attacked and humiliated...she was the first one out there trying to do that...I have felt for a long time that she was a force for good, that what she believed in and the things and people she cared about...” He did note that he’s had his disagreements with Clinton and backed Bernie Sanders in the primary, but he wouldn’t even say when Chris Matthews asked that he’d prefer that Bernie be the candidate. “No,” Moore shot back. “He lost!”
Well. What’s going on here? I don’t know exactly, but I have a guess. It’s called sanity. And a proper sense of historical responsibility. And I wish it were a more common commodity on the dead-end left.
There is one priority in this election that pulverizes every other one to bits. Stop Trump. Trumpism is American fascism and, increasingly, a white supremacist movement or at the very least a movement that is mainstreaming white supremacist activism in a shocking way. It is clear now that Trump and Steve Bannon and the rest of the crew are exploiting and abusing the institutions of democracy to build something very anti-democratic.
If you need fresh evidence, read this Joshua Green and Sasha Issenberg piece at Bloomberg Businessweek. It’s frightening. The campaign, as we know, has no real get-out-the-vote effort to speak of. Instead, it’s running three separate voter suppression efforts. Or read Sarah Posner and David Neiwert’s article about how the Trump campaign is bringing the alt-right into the mainstream. This is something that has never happened in this country.
The overwhelmingly most important responsibility of anyone who is involved in political discourse—whether intellectual or journalist or citizen or whatever—is to oppose this. Anyone who doesn’t see this is being...well, is being what? That’s an interesting question.
An idiot? Sure, let’s start with idiot. But it’s not merely idiocy, because idiocy is a condition that in some sense can’t be helped. It’s worse. In the case of leftists who refuse to oppose Trump, there’s a malicious form of mischief at work in the weird psycho-political malarial swamps of people’s brains, like whatever they can do to upset establishment liberals, they’ll do, even if it means making excuses for Trumpism.
Grow up and get over it. Trump’s a racist fascist anti-democrat. Hillary Clinton might be secretive, she might be ethically challenged, she might be entitled, she might be too close to bankers, but this isn’t remotely close. Michael Moore knows this. He’s not an idiot, and he’s not being malicious. He’s being sane.
But he’s also going a lot farther that opposing Trump. He spoke to Matthews Wednesday night about the historic nature of a possible Clinton win. “First of all, on a macro level, it isn’t being said enough that we’re going to elect our first woman president. This is huge. For the country, for the world, for the future, for our daughters, our granddaughters.” This is a very different tune from the one he was singing back in the spring, when he wrote a broadside extolling the historic potential of a Sanders win (i.e., the first democratic socialist president) without even mentioning that a Clinton win would be a historic first. I dinged him over that, so I’m glad to see he’s come around.
And speaking of Sanders, dead-end left, you’ve lost him, too, you know. He’s been a total mensch this fall. His recent statement about these Wikileaks hacks that he’s sure that if his staffers’ private emails were released, we’d see some pretty tough language about Clinton in there was a) certainly true and b) grown up. I don’t even want to say admirable, although in the debased context of our times it was; but it was just what a grown-up person says. We all say things in private that we wouldn’t say in public, Sanders was suggesting, and we have a right to have those private conversations.
Moore and Sanders understand what’s important this year. They also understand—something that isn’t said enough and that many people have forgotten—that Clinton is running on the most progressive platform of a Democratic candidate in like ever. And that virtually every point on which it was predicted that she would sell progressivism out, she’s stood firm—notably not taking Chris Wallace’s bait on possible Social Security cuts, for example. Yes, we’ll see what she does in office, and life will be complicated and disappointing as life inevitably is. But as a candidate, she’s been pretty stalwart.
It’s never enough for some people. I can understand that when, say, it’s Bill Clinton vs. Bob Dole. But if people who want to put their own anger and self-righteousness ahead of, oh, the extremely real threat that families will be broken up by President Trump’s immigration police force—well, let’s just hope it doesn’t happen so we’re spared their rationalizations about how it wasn’t their fault. I’m glad Michael Moore doesn’t want to be one of them.