|Index||9 reviews in total|
When I went to see this movie, part of me was expecting an hour and a
half of Bush bashing. That can be fun every once and again but what
surprised me about this movie was the fact that it looked at both sides
of the election. The Kerry/Edwards campaign was represented and so was
the Bush/Cheney campaign. No one side was made out to look like it was
perfect. Faults were shown on both sides and high points were shown on
As far as cinema goes, I thought this was a great film. When I left the theater, I was physically tired as a result of what I had just watched. The viewer gets so much information in this relatively short span of time. The film itself is well organized and well constructed, without too much bias (would it really be possible to have a film be completely without bias?).
Whatever your political stance, this is a film that can be appreciated for the questions it raises: questions about political strategy, specifically. Because it does not take a pro-Bush or pro-Kerry stance, it can appeal to everyone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film attempts to show the cutthroat decisiveness of one of the last vestiges of electoral battling in the 2004 Presidential race between Senator Kerry and the incumbent, President George W. Bush. The film follows the tales of three "characters": Miles Gerety-a carryover political activist from the 1960s movements, Evan-a 26 year old college student who believes that he can be a force of change in the political machine, and Leslie-a grass roots activist who takes the election to heart and gives the campaign everything she has. Miles and Evan have the majority of the screen time, and are both Democrats. The concept of the film is the reigning political philosophy that the heartland of America is the truest test of the fabric of the American public consciousness. The title of the movie is in fact, a variable of a political stance that exemplifies that theory "As goes Ohio, so goes the nation." The filmmakers therefore follow the three campaigners across the state, from Cleveland to Cincinnati and even to the small, aptly named town of Middleburg, located in the heart of the state. Through documentary style footage, news footage and interviews, we are led through the tension and struggle that was the 2004 election. The film spans only 12 days prior to the election, yet traverses far more issues and miles in its travel. Stern and Deo attempt to work the documentary genre into an entertaining piece of work. The intention is to follow in the footsteps of the great political documentaries that came before them. Unfortunately however, the editing choice to attempt to bring the project to a level greater than the sum of its parts leaves the film feeling far more like a rallying cry for the Democrats than a non-partisan expose of the door to door and hand to hand politics of other film. Nation attempts to find the middle ground between the gritty realism of Street Fight with the intensity and drama of The War Room. There are indeed moments of rallies, door to door campaigning and even the occasional shouting match, but the overall effect of the editing is more Fahrenheit 911 than a true documentary. The fact that Michael Moore is featured speaking at a rally for the Democratic Party does nothing to dispel this notion. Much of the films actual campaign footage focuses on "guerrilla tactics" that the Republican Party used to entice those registered with their party to vote "appropriately". Those who fail to agree to vote with the party line are set up to be "revisited in a few days". The film is biased not only in its presentation of evidence regarding the electoral process of 2004, but even in the amount of time given to each party, or "character". While Miles and Evan's work receives lengthy screen time, Leslie's campaign activities on screen can literally be measured in seconds. The film is distinct, clear and focused on its own agenda. Whether the filmmakers set out to make a rally cry for the Dems or simply made honest editing mistakes remains to be seen, but Hillary and Obama should certainly add this film to their volunteer packages for 2008.
Very entertaining. It's clever, lots of good personalities on camera,
the editing is witty.
As a Democrat, a bitter pill to swallow.
While I appreciated the focus on campaign strategy, it was impossible for me to sit through this without thinking about the murkier questions surrounding this event. I left feeling that the filmmakers had to turn a blind eye to those questions in order to get the story they were after. I suspect it would be a deeper film if they had explored the chaos created by the surprises of the campaign.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
while i rate this an 8 out of 10 for the quality of the documentary -
it's assemblage and presentation - it doesn't tell the full story of
this election ... the true winning strategy was the severe shortage of
voting machines at black voting precincts where the new voters who were
registered by the kerry campaign and the solid black base of the
democratic party go to vote ... full day, 12 hour waits were not
uncommon and many many people were turned away because of challenges on
their registration ... many people gave up and left ... it is a well
documented fact that this was the case ... the white republican areas
were well equipped and had little wait time ... this is only touched
upon in the film ...
it doesn't even start to cover the computer voting machine fraud that has also been well documented outside the mainstream media ... check out some other election fraud independent documentaries for more on this ... the state chair of bush's reelection campaign was also the president of diebold the manufacturer of the electronic/computer voting machines ... at a fund raising dinner he 'guaranteed' bush would carry ohio ... again, this was not covered or just glossed over in the mainstream media ... his guarantee was genuine of course ...
so while this documentary is like a michael moore 911 documentary that goes to the edge of the truth, it doesn't want to get into it and really tell the story ... but for a documentary and as far as it went, it was good ...
check out the following documentaries for more on bush election fraud and electronic voting machine fraud
-- Hacking Democracy  -- Stealing America - Vote by Vote  -- Unprecedented - The 2000 Presidential Election (Fraud) 
so when you hear the old adage, 'it doesn't matter who you vote for as long as you vote' you'll know it really doesn't matter who you vote for since they will be voting for you ...
The producers of this documentary are to be commended for their even- handed approach in covering the voting in Ohio during the 2004 presidential election. It is easy for either side in the process to hurl charges that the other side "smeared" their candidate (Kerry's activities after he returned from Vietnam did leave him vulnerable to the eventual Swift Boat attacks, regardless of whether one considers him a war hero) and Bush did serve honorably in the Air National Guard, despite charges he avoided the draft -- if he avoided the draft, how did he then manage to end up in a military unit?). Each side was guilty of hyperbole, inaccuracies, half lies, but -- unfortunately -- that's what passes for politics these days. The trick is to sort through all this muck and tell an accurate, balanced story presenting the point of view from both sides. That the producers were able to do this in recounting the emotionally charged election in Ohio is nothing less than remarkable. I use this video in my American government classes, precisely because it is a balanced look at the realities of 2004.
The movie fails to transcend the screen, and stays simply as a piece of
film, a point in history.
The movie focuses on a group of people attempting to change the outcome of Ohio in the 2004 Presidential Election. The film presents, in the beginning, the views of exclusively democrats, but gradually things open up.
The movie's true fault lies in the fact the only take aways one has from the film are factual and concrete, no ideas to be applied to other situations. But in documenting the lives of these individuals during the 2004 race the movie succeeds.
So Goes the Nation is movie for the truly politically motivated or those interested in the 2004 Pres. Election. 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a fascinating political documentary that focuses on the 2004 electoral campaign, in which one wealthy patrician convinced the electorate that he would be more fun to drink a beer with than the other wealthy patrician. The most revealing parts, however, come towards the end of the film, when we see massively long lines of African-American voters waiting to cast their ballot whilst Anglo voters waltz into the polling place and vote within seconds. There's also an intriguing clip that passes without comment: a group of white college students wielding Bush-Cheney signs chant 'O.J. was guilty' at a group of black college students. Nothing could sum up the unspoken truth about American 'race relations' and the national predominance of the Republican Party better than this fleeting scene.
A documentary covering the 2004 election, and particularly focusing on
the swing state Ohio, is probably something close to essential viewing
for those who want to see the inner-workings of election-year politics
on both sides and to see what makes both sides work and not work,
sometimes at the same time or not at all. But the problem with So Goes
the Nation is that it doesn't go far enough, it doesn't dig into items
that are of crucial importance to understanding why 2004 was such a
MAJOR misstep in one of the US's most important elections.
So much has been written and discussed about the scandal with the Diebold machines- those little voting machines that, by way of the man who supplied them (I forget the name, but the man basically promised to deliver Ohio to the republicans)- as well as Ken Blackwell, that it's given practically no notice at all. In the scant 90 minute running time the filmmakers dig into the nuts and bolts of why so many people ended up voting for Bush over Kerry, or why Kerry didn't get the kind of support he could've gotten. But there's so much corruption, as with Florida in 2000 (if not, at the time, as noticeable as what happened there, arguably), that leaving it out negates the fact that, despite whatever the republicans might get right in manipulating the right voters their way, also lie, cheat, steal, and disenfranchise voters (particularly minorities) where it suits them best.
But I digress; So Goes the Nation does work, at least, in its 90 minutes, on the terms of live-and-learn storytelling, and as a form of quasi-political analysis. It's actually a documentary republicans might like even more than the democrats (aside from the fact, of course, that Bush got the presidency for a second term, albeit the results afterward), as it clarifies the strengths that the republicans end up having if a) given the right opponent like Kerry, particularly for someone like Karl Rove, and b) the power to bring out the base of supporters in record numbers by playing up the fear angle. It goes without saying that the Kerry campaign, and Kerry perhaps, made mistakes along the way. But it's fascinating (and, for a democrat like myself, more than a little disillusioning) to see how emotional response in the voter, catch-phrases hold on more than things like, say, policy. We hear more than couple of times people comment on Bush's strategy, which was to try and obfuscate the fact that they were an administration that, domestically, was for the elite, and had a policy of continuous war overseas, and paint Bush as an everyman on the ranch. Everything starts with "yeah, he's this or that" and ends with "but..." when referring to a man who, as time has shown even to many republicans, is an emperor with no clothes.
But once again, I digress- this is the kind of response that So Goes the Nation might provoke out of the thinking viewer, on either side of the fence, about what it means to look at the past (RFK, Reagan, Bush 1 and Clinton all played the same politics games as these two and, in a way, were maybe better at it overall) when looking at the present. And as far as making it multi-faceted, the filmmakers do get some good footage and interviews with those who canvassed and led the charge in Ohio on each side to try and garner the votes for the candidates. There's a sense of frenzy that is captured, up to a point- albeit not showing nearly enough the number of lines and the full-blown reality (save for a startling mention of Dick Tracy/Mary Poppins voters registered all over the state)- that reminds one how it's not simply the politicians and campaigners that need to learn a thing or two about what to do, or what works, or what should be tried or utilized with the overwhelming power of the media, but about the democratic process itself.
The title itself suggests a duality- so goes the nation in general, a 'so-it-goes' thing, or so goes the nation with a question mark? Not at all a very good or complete look at one of the most warped dramas played out in American political history in recent memory, but it is a good film to show in the likes of schools or to perplexed protesters.
Story of the 2004 Presidential Campaign between incumbent President GW
Bush and Democratic challenger John F. Kerry which, in the opinion of
many political observers, Kerry and the Democratic Party let slip right
through their fingers and ended up on the losing end of the vote.
The film follows John Kerry's winning the Democratic Party's nomination for President in Boston in July to his self destruction over the next four months when he blew a double digit lead in the polls against President Bush to end up losing in the November elections by 50.7 % to 48.3 % of the popular vote! Thus legitimizing Bush's 2000 victory in which he won the electoral but lost the popular vote to his Democratic Party opponent for president Al Gore.
Despite Kerry's outstanding, to Bush's non-existent, military record in Vietnam the Republican strategists, headed by Karl Rove, actually used it against him in falsifying it by claiming that all his medals were somehow fraudulent especially Kerry's three Purple Hearts! Kerry reacted to these false charges by mostly ignoring them which lead many voters to feel that they were actually true which they weren't!
This "swift boat" smear campaign by the Republicans had Kerry going on the defensive for the remainder of the Presidential Campaign as his lead in the polls evaporated together with his claims of being a genuine war hero! John Kerry who was a hero in Vietnam now turned out to be a first class wimp, by letting Bush & the Republicans step all over him, when running for the highest office in the land.
On Election Day 2004 it looked like Kerry was going to pull it out and win the Presidency for the Democratic Party with him, for once, leading in a number of key states that he needed to win the White House. The most crucial state being the Buckeye state of Ohio with its 20 electoral votes. It was also Ohio that the Republicans targeted with a massive get out the vote campaign which the Democrats failed to match. The Republicans-who politically controlled the state- also bottled up a number of key Democratic precincts, with disruptive poll watchers and a lack of voting machines. As it turned out the final results in Ohio mirrored the elections total 50 state results with Bush besting Kerry, after being behind in the early voting by as much as 28%, 50.7% to 48.3%.
What the film "So Goes the Nation" made crystal clear is how the Democrats blew an election that they were sure to win by smugly trying to take the high road in winning it. Politics is a dirty business and to win in it you've got to pull out all stops in pounding your opponent into submission just short of ending up, like Richard M. Nixon, breaking the law.
The Republican strategy was to attack Kerry's strong points like his service in Vietnam and have him defend it as if it was detrimental not positive in him getting elected president. The Kerry people let Bush off the hook in defending their candidate's brilliant war record while Bush who did everything to avoid serving in the war ended up getting a free ride.
These attacks on Kerry had the public, especially in Ohio, overlook the downturn in the economy and the disastrous Iraqi War which if brought out by Kerry and the Democratic Party would have easily given Kerry the Presidency! In the end the clueless, in how to win a Presidential Election, Democratic Party proved that famous saying "Good Guys Finish last" which they by trying to be goody two shoes, and letting themselves get kicked all over the place, totally turned the American public against them! All these political miscalculations by Kerry and the Democratic Party had GW Bush voted in for a second term by the majority of the American voters which in retrospect turned out to be against, for most of those who voted for him, their best interest!
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