Soon after the 2004 presidential election ended, I started to write a screenplay about a committed Democrat who, in the heat of the election season, promises he will move to Canada if George "Dubya" is re-elected. When the inevitable occurs and Bush gets four more years, our hero follows through on his promise and makes the trip to whiter Northern pastures. The resulting film, called Blue State, which stars Breckin Meyer and Anna Paquin, came out last year.
The producers and I liked to joke during filming that if we ever made a sequel, we would call it Blue State 2: Bluer and State-ier. But when the 2008 election season began so many months ago, I was heartened by an impressive field of candidates, and by Bush's approval ratings remaining firmly in the toilet. I remained hopeful -- confident, even -- that no Democrat would have to make emigration plans for this November. There would, thankfully, be no room for a Blue State sequel.
But now the sky is falling for Democrats, and the whole "I'm-moving-to-Canada" thing is back.
It's been a rough few weeks (including the arrival of Sarah Palin), and we Democrats find ourselves suffering from another pre-election moment of abject fear, self-doubt, and despair. Suddenly, on an almost daily basis, someone I know will say to me:
"I've been thinking about your movie lately, because I watched Sarah Palin's ABC News interview and decided I'm moving to Canada if McCain-Palin wins."
Or, "Have you thought about a sequel?"
Or, "If McCain wins, forget moving to Canada -- I'll slit my wrists."
Has it come to this again? What started as an interesting and substantive election race has suddenly become a retread of 2004, with the left and right largely retreating to their red and blue corners. Evangelicals courted by Obama are realizing (shocker!) that he is pro-choice and they will ultimately vote Republican; those independents who are socially-liberal/economically conservative McCain has been courting are growing disgusted with his campaign and his policies, and returning to the Democratic camp. Yes, the map of blue states and red states won't look precisely the same as 2004, but this election is shaping up to look much more similar to the Bush-Kerry matchup than I would have thought six months, three months, or even one month ago.
I've resigned myself to this fact: if McCain-Palin wins, then I simply have to accept that I don't understand the country I'm living in. This sense of disconnection from the majority was the driving force behind making Blue State for me. I never promised to move to Canada, but I identified with a guy who felt so alienated by the election results that he would resort to that step. And for a while here in 2008, it seemed that we were going to elevate ourselves to address real problems rather than devolve into culture wars, name-calling, and hiding the ball, which is where we've found ourselves at this moment.
So is there any chance of a sequel? Maybe about a Republican who promises to move to Canada after Obama is elected. Wouldn't that be nice?
Otherwise, if McCain wins, it'll have to be called Blue State 2: The End of Hope.