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Michael Moore Wants To Channel Trump Voter Regret Into Political Opposition


Last summer, one of Donald Trump's most vocal critics predicted that the real estate tycoon would win the presidential election.


MICHAEL MOORE: I'm sorry to have to kind of be the buzz kill here so early on, but I think Trump is going to win. I - I'm sorry. You know what...

MARTIN: That was filmmaker Michael Moore on Bill Maher's HBO show back in July. Moore said his prediction was based on what he'd been hearing from many disaffected voters in his home state of Michigan. At the same time, Moore argued that eventually people would come to regret voting for Trump.

Moore says that regret is starting to creep in now. And he wants to channel it into a political opposition movement. He says disappointed voters need to call their congress members, take part in protests and think about running for local office themselves. Some of that is already happening. And I asked Moore if he thinks it's really making a difference.

MOORE: Oh, absolutely. And in fact, much to my surprise in some ways because we hold no power in any branch of government. The fact that we have been able to slow the process down, you know, in particular one Cabinet position has had to back off. The fact that we've really put so much attention on this I think has had an enormous effect.

And one of the things I - of those 10 points has been the daily call. Try to call the Capitol Hill switchboard right now. It has been swamped of American citizens calling their representatives to say, I don't approve of this Cabinet member. I don't approve of this law.

MARTIN: Let me just ask you though...

MOORE: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...You cite the fact that Andy Puzder, who was the initial nominee...

MOORE: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...To be the secretary of labor was forced to step down because of a lot of different kinds of pressure. But at the same time, the Cabinet nominee who was the most controversial arguably - Betsy DeVos, education secretary - people flooded...

MOORE: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...Phone lines on Congress trying to get her nomination taken down. And yet, she was confirmed.

MOORE: Except the good news there is that because that flood of calls, we had two Republican senators vote with us. So already two defections within the first month. That's incredible. That, I think, buoyed the spirits of many, many people. And it told us, you know, we can have some effect here because remember, these Republicans have to get re-elected.

MARTIN: So I notice you keep using the word we talking about the opposition to Trump, but presumably you're talking about the Democratic Party. How do you as a member of that galvanize this very angry opposition to President Trump, but at the same time work to bring in moderates who were swayed by him in the election?

MOORE: I think in a strange way it's happening organically because people are just naturally sickened by what they're watching, what they're listening to, you know.

MARTIN: But do you - can you point to evidence that that's happening? Because his supporters, his voters, I mean, when NPR, when other outlets have kind of surveyed, hey, what do you think about his first few weeks in office? His supporters are saying, stylistically I'm not a fan. I wish he would get off Twitter. But I'm going to give the guy a chance. And it's still early.

MOORE: I think it's - yeah, but that's a normal human - they voted for him. So yeah, in the first month, they're not going to just say, oh, I just - I feel awful. It's like after you go to Stonehenge, you know, as a tourist and you're - hey, how was it? And you're like, oh, that was really great. (Laughter) Of course, anybody who's been there, it's like, well, it's a big nothing, you know. (Laughter) So it's like - but you don't say that because I just spent all this money to travel to England, to go to these sites.

And, I mean, I just think that's a normal thing. People voted for him. They're going to not say one month into this, geez, what a doofus I am. But if I'm out in Michigan just talking to people, nobody is proudly standing up and saying, look at how great this first month has been. Wow, I'm so glad he's in here. There's - you know, remember, in Michigan, in Wisconsin, in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, people that voted for him saw him as their human Molotov cocktail. They're using him because the system has not benefited them. The system has hurt them.

MARTIN: Did you get that sentiment, that feeling of wanting to blow the system up...

MOORE: Oh, yeah.

MARTIN: ...Because it was just too static and it wasn't making change for enough people?

MOORE: Yeah, exactly. Not just too static, but in those states that I call the Brexit states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, there is such a sense of anger and anxiety and no hope, really, for whatever the future is for their kids, that Trump came along. And remember, in the same way that Bernie won the primaries in these - in Wisconsin, and he won in Michigan because Bernie was going to do the same thing in their minds. Bernie was going to say, I'm not part of this. And I'm going to blow up this system that has hurt you.

Now, Trump, you know, I don't think people thought this through a lot. And I think they're going to be the first ones to come back. It's not that many people we have to convince. In Michigan, it's something like, I think, three votes per precinct. If three people that voted for Trump voted for Hillary, she would have won the state. It was just 10,000 votes.

MARTIN: Filmmaker and author Michael Moore. His most recent film is called "TrumpLand." He joined us from our studios in New York. Michael, thanks so much.

MOORE: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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