By the end of President Bill Clinton's presidency, many voters had become disenchanted with the Democrats. Despite his efforts to keep deficits low, Clinton's moral mistakes, his civil liberty mishaps, and his foreign policy failings gave way to a shift toward Republicans. Bush didn't seem to know where they had placed the veto pen in the Oval Office, and thus the deficits ballooned. He decided to start more major wars than any Democrat before him. Greenspan and Bernanke were pumping up the housing bubble so everyone felt great about their economic future, and we gave Bush another 4 years. He expanded Medicare and the Department of Education just to earn his big government credentials. By 2006, the Democrats had taken back Congress.
Many millenials became inspired in 2008 by a message of hope and change. By now, though, both parties were losing members as the registered Independents became the majority. Disapproval of both parties in Congress has risen to a supermajority. As that message of hope and change evaporated, support for a third political party gained majority status again.
The problems this country faces need serious solutions, and the two majority parties bicker like school children (no disparagement of school children intended). This seems to have led, in part, to the making of the new film, Of By For. It is a behind the scenes look at Washington, D.C., and the landscape of American politics. It has well known figures from all political views: Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, Dan Rather, Newt Gingrich, Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich, Jack Abramoff, Lanny Davis, Michael Steele, Gary Johnson, Bill Hillsman, Mickey Edwards, and Jonathan Haidt. Of By For: Promises, Power & the Political Parade opens on Inauguration Day (Jan. 21, 2013) with screenings in New York and Los Angeles between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2012. Chad Monnin, the producer, had the help of the creative team at Old Machine, and director, Christopher Kay. I was able to catch up with Christopher earlier this week for a quick interview.
When did you start filming?
We began filming in April of this year with our trip from Chicago to LA along Rt 66.
Who came up with the idea for the documentary?
This has been an extraordinarily organic process. Chad Monnin, the producer, had the original idea to take a cross-country trip along Route 66 to document everyday Americans and their thoughts regarding the state of our political system. We were astonished by the unity we found. The main thing being that regardless of who is in office, the same things get done. So we decided to head to Washington and New York to talk to some of the country’s most powerful politicians, campaign consultants, and psychologists about why that is. From there it became clear that we needed to document the remainder of the election as we watched the two parties limit ballot access, use wedge issues, fear, and tremendous amounts of money to convince people once again that they must choose between the lesser of two evils.
What's the message you are trying to convey?
This film is about what really motivates the status quo in Washington ... namely power and control ... and the use of promises, division and fear in order to retain both. We firmly believe that true change must begin not in Washington but between neighbors, brothers and sisters. So it begins with me and you. If we the people keep buying the lies and division, and thinking we can elect change into Washington we're going to witness the same cycle. And if this is a government Of, By and For the people, we need to be the change we want to see in Washington.
What was your vision as the director?
Honesty. I have insisted from the start that we weren't going to use "gotcha" tactics. That we would honestly ask and humbly accept everyones opinion and simply place them on the screen for reflection. I don't want anyone in the film to watch it and feel like we twisted their words or took them out of context in order to make a sensational film. The results were very compelling but not because of trickery. There are plenty of documentary film makers that do that with great success, make a lot of money and push their agendas forward. But I think something much more important is sacrificed when you do that.
I leave you with the trailer. We can only hope that this film helps change the political landscape. With the recent Third Party Debates, and the leveraging of the people's media, the internet, maybe we can give people more choices, more solutions, and a better future. It's going to require that those of us who are tired of the results of voting for the lesser of two evils start working together and find our common ground.