Traces of 11/2/10 in a Trip Back to “11/4/08”


If the Democrats retain control of the House on Tuesday, it’ll be viewed as no less than a major political upset. That’s just how dire things look for Election Day, which by most polls looks to be a GOP rout of historic proportions.

Chances are many Dems will need a pick-me-up.

Several weeks ago, filmmaker Jeff Deutchman screened his documentary, “11/4/08” in 22 markets across the country and it is available on-demand. The project is a verite look at the day that Barack Obama was elected, from professional and amateur filmmakers across the world including Henry Joost, who made “Catfish,” and Joe Swanberg, who made “Alexander the Last.” The scenes range from a voting line in Chicago, where Obama showed up to vote, to Harlem, where a felon has doubts that any of it really will have an effect on his daily life. The running theme in many of the scenes are of jubilation and excitement.

Far from seeing his project as outdated, however, Deutchman sees it as relevant. It opens with a quote from Obama that the election that year would be a “defining moment of our time.”

In fact, it was that notion that 11/4/08 would be an “historic moment” that inspired Deutchman to coordinate other filmmakers just a couple weeks earlier to shoot the day.

But he also may have captured traces of skepticism or even alienation that, by most public opinion surveys, hasn’t really changed in the era of Obama.

Deutchman asked voters and others whether they thought it really would make a difference in their lives.

“Even in their moment of euphoria and enthusiasm, when I asked that question most people would say no,” he says.

A felon he interviewed in Harlem, he notes, was pleased with the results but had a kind of “stoic quality of not putting much hope in what would happen.”

He supported Obama in 2008, and has mixed feelings about his tenure. “He promised bipartisanship and change, when it turned out that they were mutually exclusive,” Deutchman says. “He chose more of the former than the latter, and I was a little disappointed in that.”

Nevertheless, he says that the “body politic is fickle.”

“That is the nature of politics,” he says. “My hope is that this shift is a more minor shift, a ‘one step back, two steps forward’ shift.”

He’ll also be offering his take on Tuesday on Veoh.

So was 11/4/08 a “defining moment”?

“I hope that [the midterm election] does change the film,” he says. “I hope it is kind of a Rorschach test. Depending on what moment you are seeing it, it will mean different things. …The longer into the future, the more enriched the film will become.”


Writing about the Rally to Restore Sanity on Sunday, Andrew Sullivan may have hit on something that better defines to typical Obama voter, rather than the follower-of-the-Messiah as it was often portrayed. He writes, “If the ghost of Richard Nixon will allow me, Stewart and Colbert have sensed a silent plurality, alienated by both parties, still hoping for Obama’s success, and yet unwilling to worship any politician or even take themselves too seriously for fear of falling into the same foul-smelling bullshit that already covers far too much of our political culture.”

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