It’s sort of painful to revisit the 2000 elections in 2007 – since that time we’ve had our entire reality realigned by 9/11 and seen the prosperity of the Clinton Era flushed down the toilet into tax relief for the wealthiest 2% of us and seen the construction of a $592 million embassy for the permanent occupation of Iraq. Meanwhile, Public Schools remain broken and 45 million citizens remain uninsured.
Six years after 9/11, Osama Bin Laden has been all but forgotten, New Orleans has drowned, people are talking about building a wall on the Mexican border and China owns all of our manufacturing jobs.
As hindsight, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rebecca Chaiklin and Donavan Leitch do a good job of investigating the American political process before everything became political, before Cheney started meeting with Oil companies and before terrorism allowed a then-Majority Government to drop a virtual police-state on our heads, with interminable security checks at the airport and all the rest.
Importantly, Hoffman takes a good look at what was driving the economy back in 2000 and how the economy drove earmarked legislation that drove the construction of prisons and local economies to ‘create’ inmates to ship to far-away prisons and add fuel to those local economies. Manufacturing in the US has emigrated to China, so we are now a service-economy that moves people and paper from place to place.
There are numerous candid spots of George W. Bush speaking without his trademark Texas accent as Hoffman and his crew descend upon both political conventions and the debates which Green Party candidate Ralph Nader was shut-out of. Even as it was noted that the Democratic and Republican candidates were running on identical ‘Children and Education’ platforms, none of them were talking about security, energy, the future of Social Security or the shibboleth of of Universal Health coverage, which now drives a dying auto-industry to Canada where the costs are underwritten by the State.
Looking back at the 2000 election cycle, it is hard to believe that things could get worse, since it becomes plain that many of the candidates in that race weren’t representing their constituents, only themselves.
Admirably, Chaiklin and Leitch carry the 2000 race to its conclusion at the Supreme Court, noting that Gore won the popular vote by 500.000 votes, yet lost the office by judicial fiat. Even there, Hoffman notes the protests at the WTO conferences in Seattle, and Bush’s 2001 inauguration and the failure of civil protest as a means to address social problems. We’ve been living a Constitutional crisis for the past 7 years.
‘The Party’s Over’ is a good film if only for the things it captures – both the ‘Big Lie’ and the ‘Big Absence’ as both the Right and the Left missed the issues that become most important in the seven years that followed.