Fahrenheit 11/9: Two Lessons We MUST Face


I saw Michael Moore’s new film on Friday. This is not a review (I liked this, didn’t like that, who cares?), but an extraction of two main points Moore makes in ways that set my heart pounding. See Fahrenheit 11/9 if you can (it’s playing in three different theaters here in Santa Fe, a small city, so I’m guessing you have the opportunity close to hand). But whether or not you do, I am urging—begging—you to consider and share these lessons. How we act on them will make the critical difference between life and death for democracy.


Moore calls on historians to draw the parallels between our own would-be king and prior aspiring dictators. They began to emerge during the 2016 campaign, when the candidate urged supporters to beat up dissenters at his mass rallies. The footage of white fists pummeling black bodies for the crime of being present is terrifying.

So is the footage of the White House’s Present Occupant floating trial balloons about being re-elected for 16 years or admiring China’s Xi for making it possible to serve as president-for-life. A familiar observation from Marx has history repeating itself, “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” Hitler footage is juxtaposed with Trump footage to make this point: his path to power used the same methods as Hitler’s: rigged elections, big lies, the mass hysteria of crowds, bigotry and chauvinism, scapegoating, media manipulation, and more.

My stomach turned at the passage in which Democratic delegates are shown handing their states—in some cases, states in which the Democratic primary in every single county was carried by Bernie Sanders—to Clinton, while delegates who believed in one person/one vote openly weep.

Many moments in this film illustrate inoculations in which a dose of fascism—bulldozing election results, falsifying public records, declaring emergencies to authorize extraordinary state powers, unannounced staging of public spectacles of military power, leaders vilifying scapegoated groups—is administered to the body politic, inuring people to democracy’s demise. It’s the titration of the dose, the gradual nature of the process, that normalizes dictatorship, cultivating adjustment to a social order in which might makes right and the un-mighty had better learn to like it.

There is ample evidence of corporate elites laboring for decades to prepare the ground for someone like the Present Occupant to take power and complete the coup. For background, I highly recommend the film Heist: Who Stole The American Dream.

Part of that process is always to ridicule those who call it out. Look at how much mud was flung at Representative Maxine Waters after she dared to speak out.

I am aware of the sinking feeling that spreads when one stands to speak truth and is treated as a lunatic. I have felt the power of ridicule to silence dissent. I have often said that the U.S. doesn’t need censorship laws, as the practice of self-censorship has made it the most decentralized public policy in this nation’s history. I am not an alarmist. I do not wish to frighten anyone. But I understand the deep truth expressed so well by James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

So this I must say: the time is here—the time is past due—to stand up to intense public pressure to silence oneself for fear of being derided. We are being afforded a glimpse of what is to come if this slow-motion coup remains unchecked. Pick your arena, pick your words, pick your method to suit yourself, but speak out now.


Many of the mechanisms of electoral democracy remain intact, and in the current election season, they are being put to good use by candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Andrew Gillum, surprising the Democratic establishment by mobilizing voters who don’t respond to centrist, corporatist politicians.

To me, the present-day Democratic Party is the lesser of two evils—but most critically, the only one that can awaken from a money-induced trance to align with equity, justice, and love.

Democratic politicians have betrayed democracy (though not quite as often or as egregiously as their Republican counterparts), and that has not escaped notice by the electorate. A clear result has been the rejection of voting as a contest of elites by a large percentage of young people and people of color of all ages. Many non-voters are keenly aware of social and environmental injustice, but choose to apply their energies to forms of organizing other than elections.

In Moore’s film, we see then-President Obama fly to Flint, MI, to give a talk in which he stages a demonstration of the safety of local drinking water by taking a sip from a glass. The horrified faces of Flint activists whose children’s lives are being destroyed by ingested lead tell the story more powerfully than words could ever do. We see Flint residents coming to terms with the undeniable truth that to many elected officials and the people who paid for their campaigns, the health, living conditions, and economic status of black and low-income people—from infants to elders—are of no concern.

And yet, it is still essential to vote Democratic as a necessary first step to shift Congressional and local political power away from the right. I do not want to be the person standing on the sidelines as democracy elides to dictatorship, contributing to that disaster by my fastidious interest in the purity of only voting for truly good candidates. Do you want that to be your legacy?

Even more, it is critical to support the candidacies of people like Ocasio-Cortez, Gillum, Stacey Abrams, and Rashida Tlaib (and many others), who have the energy, vision, and values to redeem democracy from its captivity by corporatocracy. There is already a strong majority for progressive values in this country—Fahrenheit 11/9 lists solid polling majorities for gun control, women’s right to choose, and a long list of other progressive positions—as demonstrated by a three million popular-vote majority for Democrats in the last presidential election. The challenge is to turn opinion into action.

How the Present Occupant won that election turns on two things we have the power to change.

First, many states under the current system have “winner-take-all” elections in which minority votes don’t count; the National Popular Vote legislation, well on its way to passing, corrects for this by establishing victory for the winner of the popular vote in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. The Electoral College—which was created precisely to protect elites from direct democracy—should be abolished. But that is a longer-term project since it must not only be passed but ratified by the states as a constitutional amendment. In the meantime, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would produce the same result.

Second, far too many people declined to register and vote. It is incumbent on all of us who value true democracy to persuade those who’ve given up on elections (or never took part in the first place) to register and vote despite their reservations. Both voter registration and turnout in the U.S. are low. Failing to register and vote has clear impact: it cedes the election to those who benefit from suppression of voting by young people and people of color.

I’ve heard three main reasons for not voting. One has mostly come from people of color and poor people in communities under great stress, who say that neither party serves their interests, so why support either? The second has come from young activists who came up in alternative movements such as Occupy. Those who tucked away their skepticism and marshaled their hopes one more time to work for Bernie saw their votes dismissed by Democratic ruling elites (i.e., superdelegates); others were too repelled by the corruption of politics-as-usual even to try. The third is related and transcends demographics: without an inspiring candidate of good character to support, without a positive reason to vote, why bother?

It’s not that these points are untrue. It’s that not voting does nothing to change them.

If you didn’t vote in 2016, you voted for Trump. If you don’t vote in 2018 and 2020, you will be voting for fascism.

As I wrote back in July, “I’m not calling for party unity, not while corporate interests remain in control. What we need to do is change that. And to change that, the large number of people who are qualified to vote but never registered need to be brought into the process with massive voter registration campaigns followed by massive GOTV (get out the vote) organizing.” Click that link to find more links to some of the best voter registration and mobilization campaigns.

But don’t leave it all to the campaigns. Do you know someone who cares about liberty and justice but doesn’t vote? Make it your personal aim to persuade that individual otherwise—and beyond that, to persuade that non-voter to recruit friends and family who may feel the same.

Moore shares his hope in the vast outpouring of resistance and possibility since the election: the Parkland students organizing the March for Our Lives, the teacher’s strike in West Virginia, the progressive electoral victories.

He also shares his fear, suggesting that unchecked, the wicked egomaniac in the White House may be our last President. I wish I could say he was exaggerating.

The Chambers Brothers, “People Get Ready.”

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7 thoughts on “Fahrenheit 11/9: Two Lessons We MUST Face

  1. The article is half true.. both ideologies are responsible… and ultimately, it’s comes back to the voters, each who have only one vote. The reality: All he voters want fasomaxism and are “useful idiots” The Problem: Neither are willing to weigh the consequences that if they are wrong… the whole world suffers. The questions I have is why do people want to be enslaved? One reason, is that true liberty is hard work, responsibility and accountability. Each side wants to enslave the other, yet both have enslaved themselves. It’s easy to let government to tell you what to do, when to eat, when sleep… To quote Ben Franklin, “Well gentleman, you now have a republic… if you can keep it.” We are watching live the theater of the absurd. I love it, these exciting times. All we can do is to watch… this total collapse of the philosophy of enlightenment. Literally, we are all helpless. However, somewhere in the world the Phoenix will arise again out of misery and poverty. 9.24.18

  2. Arlene, it’s a very good article, but I have to agree with Ron pretty much. We voted, and we voted for Bernie, but as you said, the party machine gave it to Hillary despite polls showing, correctly, that Hillary could not beat Trump but Bernie could. So then what, vote for Hillary? Despite her illegal machinations at every level? This business of the Russian investigation is a total distraction; if the Russians in fact released her emails, then this is simply blame the messenger. Her emails tell it all, not that we needed this to know that she is entrenched with corporate and military interests, and I’m not certain it would have been better under her.
    So does it matter to change the national election so that the popular vote matters, if the primaries and party selection process, and even the entire system is designed to block anyone but party insiders? Remember in 2000 when they not only did not allow Nader to debate but they even did not allow him to be present at the debates?
    Sadly, the change we need is way more fundamental than addressing the electoral college, because the very legislators we have always create laws for their benefit. And don’t forget that the electoral college was also set up to partly balance the power of small states against those of the large ones. Otherwise, California, New York, Florida, Ohio and so on would determine every election outcome and we’d be right back where we are, with campaigning only in the big population states.
    I think we could start with term limit laws on senators and congress-people as well as presidents. And Supreme Court nominees. Term limits but not ability to revoke their nomination.
    Nevertheless I still agree with SK, thank you for your devotion. It is a good article.

    • Well said… I voted for Ralph both times… and the heck with the democrats who said he stole the election. The basic problem is spending by both parties. Even Reagan increased spending and wasted millions on Star War… a total failure. IKE warned about the military-industrial complex.. Today the third rail is the government. I call it the MIG complex… ironically that spells Jet fighters

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Candles and incense also evoke the condition of impermanence and adjust.Their gentle can also be said to symbolize the enlightenment of the Buddha.Thailand Buddhist Candle Competition”Just as a candle are not able to burn off with no fireplace, gentlemen can not stay without a non secular lifestyle.” The BuddhaBuddhist Lent Working day in Thailand, an overwhelmingly Buddhist region is in July each and every calendar year and is primarily practiced by set up monks. The working day prior to the begin of Lent, the Candle Competition is celebrated by Thai individuals. This Pageant is celebrated right throughout the nation, but the most especially celebrations take spot in Ubon Rachathani north-japanese Thailand (Isaan).According to custom, Buddhist Lent Working day started out as a outcome of villagers complaining to the Buddha. It is stated that a team of ordained monks were making benefit (tamboon) and experienced walked through moist rice fields. At this time the rice fields ended up at the peak of their development and by strolling in them they experienced ruined the crop. As a consequence the legend has it that the Buddha told all monks to practice generating benefit even though only being within the confines of their temples. Presently Buddhist Lent stipulates that all monks need to remain confined to their temples for a time period of 3 months during the rainy period, commencing on the very first day of the eighth waning moon.Thai folks offer you a range of standard products to their monks and this supplying also includes candles and this of training course involves the well-known Candle Festival. In earlier occasions most temples had no electricity and so candles had an crucial symbolic significance for ceremonies but also a lot more practically for illumination in day-to-day use. In addition they are mentioned to signify knowledge as divine gentle in the course of the Candle Festival the Buddhist laity follow their beliefs by giving massive and frequently extravagantly embellished candles to the monks.Candle Competition Celebrations: “There are two approaches of spreading mild: to be the candle or the mirror that displays it.” Edith WhartonOn the working day prior to Lent, large groups of folks get with their fantastically decorated candles and march with them on elaborate and lovely parades. The abundant, luxuriously sculpted decorations on these lovely performs of art portray willpower, unity, and the beliefs of that neighborhood. The candle parade procession consists of the broadest cross segment of the community all in their very best clothes. In Ubon Ratchathani this also contains many teams of regional Isaan performers, musicians and dancers who accompany the candles as they make their way via the city. There is also a well-known attractiveness contest to select Miss Candle (who is regarded as the most stunning woman of that group).Throughout the country, there are celebrations of the Candle Competition. No matter what the climate in Thailand the folks have exciting and expressing their faith on July 8, the beginning of Buddhist lent.”How far that minor candle throws its beams! So shines a excellent deed in a naughty entire world.” William ShakespeareCandle MeditationSit a silent tranquil area and gentle a candle. It could be of any color but some choose a blue or a white a single. Now stare deep into the burning flame of the candle and target on it. Will not enable your vision of the candle flame become blurred. As you stare at the burning flame your head will turn out to be filled with the noise of every day contemplating, concerns and trivial issues. These must just commence to drift away and right after a quick even though, you may possibly commence to acquire photos and views that don’t appear to arrive from you. Just take these as your religious guides and try to interpret them.Preserve staring at the burning flame do not be distracted and try to interpret the visions you are obtaining. A single widespread instance is that of ‘seeing’ a peeled onion. At initial this could appear senseless but in this illustration it could signify that as you travel additional alongside on your life’s path, the layers are becoming peeled away permitting you to see and experience the greatest main of you existence.As you progress more with your candle meditation consider to find out to have faith in your very own analysis and comprehension of these feelings that the candle provides to your thoughts. This type of meditation hence acts as a powerful way of concentrating your focus.Consider to create up your experience of candle meditation from five minutes a working day to twenty minutes and do this in excess of several months. Your eyes will want to adapt to the dim light and over time, you will be ready distinguish in between which thoughts are your own and which can act as your spiritual guides.”Much better to light a candle than curse the darkness” Chinese proverb”As a white candle in a holy place, So is the attractiveness of an aged experience” Joseph CampbellWhere is the World’s Biggest Candle?”We say God and the imagination are a single… How large that maximum candle lights the dim.” Wallace StevensDigressing marginally from the use of Candles in Buddhism in my study I diverted to see what human imagination could carry to the planet of candles – this is what I discovered.”A great teacher is like a candle – it consumes by itself to gentle the way for other individuals.” AnonThere are a lot of contenders and a long heritage of the research for the world’s biggest candle. The 1st contender for the world’s largest candle is the Usa – the Heat Glow Candle Outlet in Centreville, Indiana the place they claim to have the world’s largest candle. Nonetheless At the Stockholm Exhibition of 1897 what has been explained as the world’s greatest candle on document went on show. This huge candle is stated to have been eighty ft higher and measuring eight and a fifty percent toes in diameter.The long established organization of Ajello Candles is an additional contender for the historic title of the world’s largest candle. In 1921 it designed the Enrico Caruso Memorial Candle.This candle measured 5 feet in circumference and tapered at the top to 18 inches. This candle stood an impressive eighteen feet tall and once the candle was burning the organization claimed it could keep on for 1800 a long time, burning one particular day every 12 months on the anniversary of Enrico Caruso’s loss of life.In 2005 in Jerusalem they created the world’s biggest Hannukha candle. This massive candle was above 8 and a 50 percent metres in top and 85cm vast. It was situated in the Pisga mall in the town. These are just some illustrations of what assert to be or ended up the world’s greatest candles.”Nirvana is not the blowing out of the candle. It is the extinguishing of the candle’s flame due to the fact working day is arrive.” Rabindranath Tago

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