I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Every day. Every damn day, there’s some new horror, some new national shame, that springs from the fact that Donald J. Trump — reality-show star, multiply failed businessman, silver-spoon scion, and proud pussy-grabber — is the President of the United States. (Today: Trump is throwing gasoline on the Middle East.) It’s been more than a year now since that awful Election Day, and as we come up on a year on from the inauguration, it’s safe to say that the Trump presidency has been at least as bad as many of us feared, and arguably even worse.
So it’s often difficult to watch 11/8/16 (titled November 8th in the UK), a documentary about the last day on which America could at least pretend to be a functioning country with a sane culture. Dozens of documentary filmmakers fanned out around the US to follow ordinary citizens on that now historic Tuesday, and creator and producer Jeff Deutchman has winnowed those stories down to those of 16 representative Americans. (Deutchman did something similar eight years ago with his 11/4/08, covering the Election Day that ended up putting Barack Obama in the White House.)
Supporters of both Hillary Clinton and Trump appear here, as do voters less gung-ho for either, and even one volunteer for independent candidate Evan McMullin. There’s a Clinton campaign worker, but no one who worked on Trump’s campaign… which isn’t surprising, given the mood that the film captures, and that was certainly very pervasive right up until the evening of that very day: Of course Clinton was going to take it. A Trump win was impossible. Even the Trump supporters here seem confident that he couldn’t win.
It’s tough to feel anything other than fiery rage at how complacent everyone was. It’s infuriating, too, to see the casual racism and willful ignorance of some Trump supporters. Worst of all, though, is the genuine pain, the tears, the horror, on the faces of so many people — women; Dreamer campaigners; progressive activists — late that night, after Trump had been announced as the winner. This may be an important portrait of America on a day that changed the nation for the worse. But the emotions it dragged out of me were too raw, emanating from wounds not only as yet unhealed but taking new damage every day. I’m not sure I needed to relive this right now. You may not either.