Much like Undude disclosing that he wasn't particularly looking forward to Transformers, I had been reluctant to watch this film and kept pushing it back in my Netflix cue. The reason is fairly easy to guess - the night of November 2, 2004 won't bring back too many fond memories for me, or, as I imagine, any of my fellow bleeding hearts. In fact, I still bitterly recall the bottles of champagne my roommate and I purchased for the occasion sitting unopened as we watched the final unfriendly vote tallies roll in from Ohio with despair.
Made by the same guys behind The Year of Yao, So Goes the Nation chronicles the last two weeks of ground campaign warfare in that decisive bellweather state of Ohio before the 2004 election. Although produced by two democratic filmmakers, the film achieves a plausible sense of neutrality - interspersing footage centering around 3 passionate volunteers (2 D, 1 R) with interviews of several top figures in both campaigns. Strategists who agreed to be interviewed for this film include Mark McKinnon, Ed Gillespie, and Ken Mehlman from the Republican Party; and Paul Begala, Mary Beth Cahill, and Terry McAuliffe from the Democratic side. These subjects, except a very sterile Cahill, offer provacative insights into how Bush won the election despite a stacked political landscape - and the footage of the ground campaigns offer vivid illustrations of what the strategists meant.
The film is a thinking-person's film in that it forces the viewer to consider - if you can somehow calm your liberal rage - the reasons why Bush won the election in a state where he had no business of winning. Obviously, I won't give away the a-ha! moment in the film because that's something you'll have to explore on your own. But watching the film and reconsidering my experiences of phone banking for Kerry-Edwards only confirmed what I suspected all along - John Kerry and his campaign staff had no idea what they were doing.
Hurry up Barack!