SO GOES THE NATION
Winning By Design
Release Date: October 04, 2006
Starring: Paul Belgala, Mary Beth
Cahill, Tad Devine, Matthew
Dowd, Ed Gillespie, and Ken
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 90 minutes
Distributor: IFC Films
Director: Adam Del Deo and James D.
Executive Producer: Douglas Hansen and Don Kempf
Producer: John Chandler, Christopher C.
Chen, Adam Del Deo, and James
Address Comments To:Joshua Sapan, President/CEO
IFC Films/IFC Entertainment
Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc.
(Independent Movie Channel/IFC Films/Bravo Networks)
200 Jericho Quadrangle
Jericho, NY 11753
Phone: (516) 803-3000
Fax: (516) 803-4616
This movie is an election primer that zeroes in on how to win an election and also how to lose one. Stay on message could be the title of the text, and the filmmakers do a pretty good job of giving us a tight, clear picture of the 2004 election as it is played out those last days in Ohio, but, that wasn’t the original intent of the documentary. May elections in Ohio had exposed problems with voting machines and absentee ballots, but the process and atmosphere of electing a president of the United States in a state like Ohio that was still undecided days before the election was too compelling.
The documentary begins 15 days before the election in Ohio and thus has a built in clock and finish line so that the tension and build-up contributes strongly toward the drama. Unlike most documentaries that are purely presentational, SO GOES THE NATION takes advantage of the momentum. The TV commentators call the race by keeping us up on who’s winning and by what margin and why they other guy is losing. All the while Kerry and Bush are groomed constantly by their handlers to stay on track.
The Democrats present a myriad of issues that tend to confuse, and the Republicans keep it simple, focused and consistent while simultaneously creating on the spot ads that point out the confusion of the Democrats. Paul Begala, a former Clinton strategist and a realist, says: "We're saying JHOS (jobs, health, security, oil, and security), and he (Bush) says, 'I'll protect you from people who want to kill you'" – clarity versus confusion.
In addition, SO GOES THE NATION, picks up the stories of three campaign workers in the last days of the campaign. In a "day in the life" way, viewers get a real sense of how each party operates. A terrific series of clips shows both groups of volunteers in a door to door canvas to get out the vote. The Republicans were consistent and kept it simple, while the Democrats weren't prepared – clarity versus confusion.
The election was declared a Kerry win as the city votes came in and were counted, but no one had thought about the rural vote, except the Republicans. Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans did not go after the swing vote. They recognized a growing, Bible-based constituency in the rural areas. In a fine piece of filmmaking, a small town barber who happens to be a Democrat is featured the talking about himself and his family and their values. He doesn't appear again until the very end. In a surprise move (to everyone but the Republicans), he and his wife cross party lines to vote for Bush. More importantly, he voted on the social issues (homosexuality and abortion) based on the teachings of the Bible.
"We never saw these people," says Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic National Chairman. "We didn't know they existed."
The Democrats were stunned. Only 60,000 votes made the difference. This was a close race that could have gone either way. This could be a primer for the next time around, but new candidates, new staffs, new volunteers mean a different perspective. Or will it? Will biblically based votes on tough social issues be out there? Will a candidate be willing and able to find them?
The documentary begins 15 days before the election in Ohio. Thus, it has a built-in time clock that contributes strongly toward creating drama and building tension. The TV commentators call the race by keeping viewers aware of who’s winning and by what margin and why the other guy is losing. All the while, Kerry and Bush are groomed constantly by their handlers to stay on track. Looking at the secular world of politics, the movie has a surprising spiritual awakening at the end as the deciding electorate vote with the wisdom of the Bible under their belts.