I recently took in the sweeping new political documentary 2016: Obama’s America, written and produced by Dinesh D’Souza. It was interesting, entertaining, and produced in a way that was attractive to even those non-political wonks who are starting to pay attention for the first time or were dragged to the theatre by their online conservative-blogging significant others.
First, a note about the creator of the film. Dinesh D’Souza is a Christian apologist, defender of conservatism and capitalism, scholar, biographer, college president, and family man who came to the U.S. to attend college at Dartmouth and has grown into all of those roles in the quarter-century or so since. He has authored several books, many which garnered best selling status, including The Roots of Obama’s Rage, and Obama’s America, on which this film was based. A former White House staffer for President Ronald Reagan, he now engages in intellectual punditry in the form of appearances on FOX, CNN and other channels, debates at universities, and the seemingly unceasing authorship of marvelous works of scholar (a personal favorite is What’s So Great About Christianity?).
D’Souza’s film – which bested summer blockbusters The Dark Knight Rises and Spiderman in ticket sales (per screen) its first week in theaters – doesn’t produce any new information per se, but rather compiles neatly and quite damningly the relationships that our president forged in his childhood and young adult years, and that quite clearly continue to influence him to this day. Perhaps the film’s greatest strength is the way it methodically unveils Barack Obama’s life and aligns his current policy decisions with his worldview and the influencers of both. A quality perspective with which any voter should inform themselves.
My reserved and tepid – yes, tepid indeed – criticism of the documentary can perhaps be shrugged off as more of a personal preference of attacking angle than a legitimate flaw in the content. If I was running the show (and I’m certain it is good that I wasn’t), a higher portion of the film might have been dedicated to attacking our president’s results and failure to deliver on major promises, the rhetorical platitudes of which won him the 2008 election. Instead, D’Souza opted to spend the lion’s share on interviews with and commentary on former and recent (pretty darn recent, in some cases) companions, guides, and molders of President Obama’s inarguably leftist ideology. I’d say the split was 85-15.
D’Souza was asked about the title and purpose of his film: “The real reason we called it 2016 is because we want audiences to question what the implications are, and what the world would look like in 2016 if Obama is re-elected. It is a real mystery how he managed to convince so many Americans to vote for him, and how some of his deepest beliefs have gone un-scrutinized.”
With a focus on Obama’s anti-colonialism adherences, D’Souza adeptly indicts the president’s policies and exposes the radicalism of his past; an absentee father, a Communist mentor, a domestic terrorist colleague and friend, a racist professor, an anti-American pastor.
D’Souza makes a strong case for Obama’s extreme-left worldview, and does so in a professional way. A cinematic and political success, to be sure. Go see this film, and take your friends and family. If not for the simple reason that it’s important to support a major event in the conservative movement, but also that the widespread comprehension of the information presented is vital if an informed decision is to be made in November voting booths.