Michael Moore got it right on Donald Trump’s victory 5 months ago

Photo: Getty/Brendan Hoffman

Michael Moore would be taking no pleasure from being able to say “I told you so”.

As far back as July, the maverick filmmaker was saying Donald Trump would take the US presidential election, in a prescient analysis of the hot button issues for middle America.

There’s an irony in the fact that Moore, from the Left, and Trump, as the Republican candidate many felt wandered too far off the Conservative reservation, were like-minded in their take on how Rust Belt states and so much of the US heartland was feeling.

But what the two men from opposite ends of the political spectrum have in common is an outsider sensibility, that both bucks and terrifies the system. They get it, even coming from opposite ends of the street. Moore’s built a career out of railing against institutions stacked against the individual. Trump built his political campaign around the same premise.

“I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news,” Moore wrote in a blog post titled “5 reasons Trump will win” in July.

“This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full time sociopath is going to be our next president.”

Here’s his first reason, which evokes Brexit in explaining what was happening in the US:

Welcome to Our Rust Belt Brexit

I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states – but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million). Trump is ahead of Hillary in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and tied with her in Ohio. Tied? How can the race be this close after everything Trump has said and done? Well maybe it’s because he’s said (correctly) that the Clintons’ support of NAFTA helped to destroy the industrial states of the Upper Midwest. Trump is going to hammer Clinton on this and her support of TPP and other trade policies that have royally screwed the people of these four states. When Trump stood in the shadow of a Ford Motor factory during the Michigan primary, he threatened the corporation that if they did indeed go ahead with their planned closure of that factory and move it to Mexico, he would slap a 35% tariff on any Mexican-built cars shipped back to the United States. It was sweet, sweet music to the ears of the working class of Michigan, and when he tossed in his threat to Apple that he would force them to stop making their iPhones in China and build them here in America, well, hearts swooned and Trump walked away with a big victory that should have gone to the governor next-door, John Kasich.

From Green Bay to Pittsburgh, this, my friends, is the middle of England – broken, depressed, struggling, the smokestacks strewn across the countryside with the carcass of what we use to call the Middle Class. Angry, embittered working (and nonworking) people who were lied to by the trickle-down of Reagan and abandoned by Democrats who still try to talk a good line but are really just looking forward to rub one out with a lobbyist from Goldman Sachs who’ll write them nice big check before leaving the room. What happened in the UK with Brexit is going to happen here. Elmer Gantry shows up looking like Boris Johnson and just says whatever shit he can make up to convince the masses that this is their chance! To stick to ALL of them, all who wrecked their American Dream! And now The Outsider, Donald Trump, has arrived to clean house! You don’t have to agree with him! You don’t even have to like him! He is your personal Molotov cocktail to throw right into the center of the bastards who did this to you! SEND A MESSAGE! TRUMP IS YOUR MESSENGER!

And this is where the math comes in. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost by 64 electoral votes. Add up the electoral votes cast by Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It’s 64. All Trump needs to do to win is to carry, as he’s expected to do, the swath of traditional red states from Idaho to Georgia (states that’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton), and then he just needs these four rust belt states. He doesn’t need Florida. He doesn’t need Colorado or Virginia. Just Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And that will put him over the top. This is how it will happen in November.

So if you’re one of the people currently wailing and wondering “how could this happen?”, here’s Moore on Bill Maher, warning about Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania – all states that went to Trump – returning to the theme he raises above.

In his blog, Moore cited what he called “the Jesse Ventura Effect” as his fifth reason and it partly explains the mystery and hand-wringing that continues when looking at polling, despite the fact that Brexit already flagged the possibility. His point is even more powerful when you think about it in terms of governments that monitor your online habits and scrutinise so much of your daily life.

He writes:

Do not discount the electorate’s ability to be mischievous or underestimate how any millions fancy themselves as closet anarchists once they draw the curtain and are all alone in the voting booth. It’s one of the few places left in society where there are no security cameras, no listening devices, no spouses, no kids, no boss, no cops, there’s not even a friggin’ time limit.

You can take as long as you need in there and no one can make you do anything. You can push the button and vote a straight party line, or you can write in Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

There are no rules. And because of that, and the anger that so many have toward a broken political system, millions are going to vote for Trump not because they agree with him, not because they like his bigotry or ego, but just because they can. Just because it will upset the apple cart and make mommy and daddy mad.

Moore kept sounding the alarm in a series of talks, including this one about “the Brexit states”, describing Trump as “the human molotov cocktail that they’ve been waiting for”.

Here’s an excerpt from his talk (warning: NSFW language)


On November 8, voters finally got their chance to throw a bomb they’ve wanted to for so long.