The Michael Moore of the right says Republicans would be “quite invincible” if the party reminded voters that the nation’s founders saw government as the “enemy of rights” and had to be kept small.
He also gave a preview of his upcoming documentary America, whose trailer will debut soon at CPAC—the Conservative Political Action Conference starting this week in Washington.
D’Souza, 51, said the founders thought that even a democratically elected government is the enemy of rights.
“How do we know that?” he asked in a talk and Q&A at the Bahia Resort Hotel near Mission Bay.
He pointed to the Bill of Rights and its stipulations that “Congress shall make no law” on certain topics.
“So how do we protect our right to free speech? We prohibit the government from regulating it,” he said.
But something he called a “great moral shift” occurred after President Franklin Roosevelt gave a speech outlining the Four Freedoms—including freedom from fear.
FDR basically said the government “will heretofore be the friend of rights,” D’Souza said in a bustling fifth-floor ballroom.
This “rival principle” has evolved into the idea that government “actually is the securor, guarantor and protector of rights—and not the enemy of them,” he said.
Known for Obama 2016—D’Souza says it’s the No. 2 money-making documentary after Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11—the author of The Roots of Obama's Rage said America would open with a view of Columbus’ ships on the high seas but would have a voiceover that asked: The discovery of America was actually an accident, a navigational error. But what if this blunder had not occurred?
“And you see all of America dissolving into the sea,” he said. “The film raises the question: What would the world look like if America never existed?”
Saying “I’m an immigrant and Obama’s not,” the Bombay-born D’Souza said the film takes a “panoramic view” via interviews with immigrants and others.
D’Souza—who told Patch he moved to La Jolla several months ago to be near where his daughter attends school—later said immigrants are in a good position to appreciate America, though he added that immigration “is a problem.”
“Why? Because we have all the wrong immigrants. We’re taking the wrong people,” he said without specifying which groups.
“We’re taking people here [who] jump right on the bandwagon” of social benefits.
“I understand why our side is anxious about that issue,” he said, a reference to the growing trend of Hispanics and other minorities to vote Democratic. “But to me the remedy is to go back to ground zero.”
D’Souza said Republicans are “not against the Statue of Liberty. We’re not against people coming to America. We just want the kind of people to come to America who believe in the same American ideals that we do.
“We don’t want anyone else to come,” he said to applause.
D’Souza said that when Barack Obama won re-election, he was reminded of how he felt when he took his daughter, now a senior at The Bishop’s School, to see the Lion King for the first time—“and Scar took over the Pridelands.”
“I felt a sort of deep funk,” he said to laughter from an audience of 260.
He called November 2012 a missed opportunity because it was a “winnable election.” He said it felt like a referendum not just on Obama but on the American people.
A number of conservatives, he said, pinned the blame on voters—“because the first time around, Obama was an unknown figure. But people had four years to take a good look at him, and they still voted for him.”
D’Souza disagreed that the election was a “tipping point”—toward a society more of takers than makers.
“If the American people had had a clear choice,” he said, “with two equally determined opponents who were both equally resourceful campaigners” and articulate for their cause ... his voice trailed off. “But you have to admit our team didn’t do that.”
He said Mitt Romney stuck to a narrow line that he would be a better manager of the economy—“and that was kind of it.” And Obama exploited “this idea” of economic injustice—a “deep-rooted sense that the rules of the game are not set up fairly.”
“I don’t think our team has actually answered that argument,” D’Souza said, “because answering that … requires making the moral case for capitalism” and that the free-enterprise system is fair and better than “the Obama system,” which he said rewards “the takers.”
Moreover, Romney’s campaign—where “hundreds of millions of dollars went down the tube” in TV commercials—would have done better had it shown Obama 2016 widely in swing states and influenced more independents to vote Republican.
Such voters who saw his movie were turned against the Democratic president, D’Souza contends.
In another critique of the 2012 GOP campaign, D’Souza said: “Our candidates don’t come up with ideas,” but just new strategies.
“Everyone became an amateur Dick Morris,” he said of the GOP consultant and commentator.
And conservatives should not just embrace a “critique culture” but produce culture itself—such as documentaries and media including Fox News and right-wing talk radio.
“Digging into this a little, I realized that Hollywood controls the production of films, but it actually has nothing to do with the distribution of films,” he said.
So if you make a good film and effectively market it, “there’s nothing to stop you from actually challenging this big, bloated brain-dead industry a few miles north of us,” which he said is producing content for only one segment of the U.S. population.
So this isn’t just a political opportunity, but also a free-market opportunity, he contends.
“The market is not serving a whole bunch of the audience,” he said. “So I think there’s a chance here as conservatives to do something that’s much better than to go around asking people for money.”
He called on conservative investors to underwrite movies like his and “do what the left does: They create culture. They sell it. And they use the [revenues] to create more.”
D’Souza said two rival ideologies are contending, but that the public doesn’t know the view of early Americans.
“You didn’t have to explain” to Americans of the 18th century “why the government needs to be small. But today you do.”
D’Souza told a story in which Obama rode in on a white horse and held a gun to his head to give a hungry man half his sandwich—in contrast to the man offering another man a bite voluntarily.
The filmmaker said: “When government action is involved, all the moral value of the action is completely stripped away.”
Before adjourning to a nearby room to sign and sell DVDs of his Obama 2016 movie, D’Souza concluded that the ethic of delayed gratification, frugality and hard work—“and passing these values to our children”—has been “eroded at the core level.”
He said discussing politics this way would be “very fresh” to people.
“We’re talking about our standard of living and their own liberty,” he said. “And if the Republican Party is the defender of that, we would be quite invincible in American politics.”
He said America, to be released in 2014, was originally conceived as Obama 2016 Part II—“we told you so, and now let’s show you that we were right.”
The president, he said, acts on an old, anti-colonial theory that America is a pirate nation plundering the world—and that U.S. traders, merchants and entrepreneurs are “low-life scum.”
“But this is bigger than Obama. … America is a lot bigger than Barack Obama,” he said, later adding: “Obama is a big fly, but America has a bigger fly swatter.”