America’s most controversial documentarian urged SUNY New Paltz students to vote in the November elections during a recent visit to the campus on September 20. More than 500 people came out to see filmmaker Michael Moore in the Lecture Center — most of them students — whom he spoke to directly about the importance of voting for Hillary Clinton in November.
Moore urged students to support Clinton, acknowledging that most young voters have not embraced her candidacy like they did for Sen. Bernie Sanders, who Clinton beat in the Democratic primary.
“She is going to haul ass and do everything that needs to be done,” Moore said. “I say to you Hillary haters, I don’t blame you, criticize you, or want you to give up your hate. I just want you to help save this country.”
Moore, 65, noted that young people have the lowest voter turnout despite being a growing part of the population.
“When you’re 18, you can live through four years of Trump,” he said. “But when you’re 65, you’re thinking, ‘This is how it’s all going to end.’ ”
Moore’s talk, entitled “The Youth Vote and the 2016 Election,” marked his first-ever visit to SUNY New Paltz and his first college-visit in years. “I haven’t spoken at a college in a long time,” Moore said. “Thank you for having me here for my very first trip to New Paltz.”
The SUNY New Paltz Environmental Task Force, a group of students and staff concerned with environmental and social views, sponsored the event. ETF member Tammy Friedman said, “We were looking for guest speakers. I said, ‘Why not Michael Moore?’”
Moore warned that a crucial factor in determining who wins the presidency on Nov. 8 will be turnout by Democratic voters.
“I think we are going to have the lowest turnout ever. That will help Trump. Do you define Hillary’s candidates as rabid supporters? No. The Democrats won’t get out and vote. But Republicans will be up at 5 a.m. on Election Day, and they will vote.”
Moore called Trump a “human Molotov cocktail” for disenchanted Republicans, characterizing the Trump vote a rash attempt to change the unfavorable state of politics by electing an outsider.
Moore openly interacted with the audience during the talk, often stopping to joke or converse with the students.
Moore asked who in the audience was planning to vote for Trump and noted an audience member wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. After the crowd jeered, Moore said, “No, be nice. Think of the courage it took him to come in here.”
Moore urges a vote for Clinton despite believing Trump will win the election. In an article he wrote titled “5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win,” Moore predicts that low voter turnout will give Trump the election.
“This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath is going to be our next president,” Moore said. “Never in my life have I wanted to be proven wrong more than I do right now.”
During the talk Moore confronted a man in the crowd who was using his cellphone to record the talk, which violated the rules agreed upon by Moore and the college. Only the campus’s filming equipment was permitted.
“Is it okay if we don’t do that?” Moore said to the man. “It makes me nervous.”
Moore quickly recovered.
“I’ve been on TV before,” he said, “I know what a camera looks like. I can handle it.”
The man left the audience and Moore said, “I’ll give him an interview after we’re done. I’m going to take that kid out to dinner.”
While Moore was discussing the American health system, a man named John stood up to tell Moore, “You saved me.” John Graham, an EMT who worked for months at Ground Zero after the attacks of September 11, 2001, was suffering from esophageal cancer when Moore brought him to Cuba to be treated during the filming of Moore’s 2007 film Sicko. Graham traveled to New Paltz to show his gratitude.
Despite his pessimism about the election, Moore stays optimistic about the American youth. “It really is your world,” he said to the hundreds of New Paltz students in the audience. “I have a lot of hope and a lot of faith in you.”
He also had some parting advice for the students.
“Come up with a new idea,” Moore said. “Make a new movie. The movies these days suck.”