Three weeks into the run of his anti-Trump Broadway show, The Terms of My Surrender, filmmaker and activist Michael Moore tells Fast Company that the president will be reelected in 2020. “I should say re-appointed, because we will have an even larger population that will vote against him in 2020,” Moore says. “But he will win those electoral states as it stands now.”
As dire as Moore’s prediction is–and let’s not forget that he was one of the few people who foresaw a Trump victory–he has a plan to change how it stands. His show is an attempt to generate the momentum and activism he thinks we need to shift the facts before the next election. “Here’s the good news: We don’t have to convince a single Trump voter to vote differently because we already have the majority,” Moore says, pointing out that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million.
But she lost the electoral college by 77,000 votes in total in the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, and despite a movement afoot now to abolish the electoral college, it’s unlikely that is going to happen anytime soon, Moore says.
That said, he believes the National Popular Vote interstate compact, an agreement between states to award all of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote, could succeed as a workaround if we can convince enough state legislatures to pass it in time. So far, it has won approval in 10 states and Washington, D.C.–the agreement will only be enacted once states delivering a total of 270 electoral votes have signed on, and it’s still far from that goal.
“That’ll be an easier way to get this done,” Moore says. “People should not despair, thinking, well, the Republicans have all this power and all that. Think of the suffragettes. They were trying to get the vote for women. They got [the 19th Amendment ratified] in 35 states to give women the right to vote. Think of that uphill battle.”
Moore also says we have to get people united behind the most viable candidate–whoever that will be–battling Trump for the presidency in the next election. “Eight million Obama voters voted for Trump. We just need to convince a few of them–hold out our hand and bring them back. Can we do that? I think we can do that,” Moore says. “You know, there were seven-and-a-half million that voted Green or Libertarian. I think we can convince a few of them to come back. We don’t need to convince a whole lot here.”
“But we do have to do some work to bring in people who would be sympathetic,” he says, “and maybe they were justifiably upset, angry, and hurt and whatever, and we get that. But now they’ve seen how dangerous it is to have him as president of the United States. So I think we can bring enough people back.”
Another voting block that needs to be encouraged to show up on election day: young people. “Here’s another positive thing to look at: Every year 3 million 18-year-olds become adults and [potential] voters, and we raised those kids,” Moore says. “We’ve raised a generation of kids who don’t hate people on the basis of race, or they don’t hate somebody because they’re in love with somebody of the same gender.”
Moore is heartened by the changing demographics of the United States. “Nearly 70% of the country is either female, people of color, or young adults between 18 and 35, or a combination of the three. The angry white guy is dying out, and the Census Bureau has already told us that by 2050, white people are going to be the minority, and I’m not sad to say I can’t wait for that day to happen. I hope I live long enough to see it because it will be a better country.”
For now, though, Moore is focused on transforming every single person who comes to see The Terms of My Surrender, which runs through October 22, into an active member of the resistance movement. Some critics have complained that Moore is preaching to the converted. And they’re not wrong about that. Moore knows full well his audience is full of like-minded people who are against Trump’s vile politics. What Trump supporter is going to shell out money to see Moore on Broadway?
But here is what those critics are missing: Moore also knows that many of the people coming to see the show are not activists. In fact, for many Americans, no matter what their politics, the idea of protest and even being politically active is new, and people don’t know where to start.
Moore is not out to shame anyone for taking democracy for granted. Rather, he is using his Broadway show to encourage people to fight the Trump administration and to give them the confidence to do so by actually demonstrating how one person can make a difference. He does that mostly by sharing personal anecdotes, including one about how he ran for the school board of Davison, Michigan, when he was only 18, frustrated by how the administrators at his high school were treating students. He won the election and became the youngest-ever elected official in the United States.
He also recounts how HarperCollins decided not to publish his book Stupid White Men in the wake of 9/11, but how a librarian from Englewood, New Jersey, launched a campaign that forced the publisher to put the book out.
While Moore can’t sing or dance, he relies on his skills as a satirist, capturing the absurdity of our times in humorous bits, including Stump the Canadian, a game show hosted by Moore that pits the smartest American in the audience against the dumbest Canadian in attendance, to prove that the dumbest Canadian is indeed smarter than the smartest American. (That said, an American actually won the night I attended the show.)
Moore says he plans to use creative, interactive means to harness that energy in the coming weeks. Earlier this month, when Trump slipped back into New York City for a visit, Moore took his audience on a post-show field trip, transporting them uptown via double-decker buses to Trump Tower where they protested the president’s response to Charlottesville. “A number of them had never been to a protest before, and it was exciting for them,” Moore says. “They felt like Americans, like they were participating, and that always feels good.”