The new documentary makes a case that voter suppression continues to undermine our democracy
We are 46 days away from the most consequential election in the nation’s history since, well, the last one.
And now I’m tasked with reviewing a documentary that’s very much timed to be released in the run-up to that election. I’ve been a critic for 20 years now, and I've never really been one to leave politics out of things. The first movie I reviewed professionally was “Coyote Ugly,” which is the only reason I know how long I’ve been doing this. It’s also why I know the timeline of “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” which affected me in a way that prevents this from being an objective review.
I was on a newspaper copy desk during the 2000 election and in its aftermath. If you weren’t on a newspaper copy desk, I’ll recount (pun intended) my memories of that time. George W. Bush was declared the winner of Florida by Fox News on election night, setting a narrative in place that ended with a Supreme Court decision and Bush being declared the winner of the state of Florida, and thus, the presidency, by a margin of 537 votes out of nearly 6 million cast in the state.
We can argue in the Facebook comments on this review whether or not it was consequential that the man who led the nation into the second war in Iraq was elected president instead of the man who turned a PowerPoint presentation into an urgent call to arms on the climate crisis 14 years ago.
The point that stuck with me for two decades is that modern elections in America are really, really close and they have far-reaching consequences.
This is something Stacy Abrams knows all too well.
Abrams serves as producer of “All In,” and is a central figure as she shares the story of her journey from a civic-minded young Georgian who spoke at the anniversary of the March on Washington as high school student to very nearly being elected the governor of the state in 2018.
But “All In” focuses on an issue larger than Abrams’ razor-thin fight in Georgia. It’s about the issue she’s championed since losing narrowly to the Republican who was both running against her and using his position as Secretary of State to tip the balance in his favor. The documentary lays out a simple case that voter suppression has been weaponized in America to an extent that undermines democracy itself. The notion that the person who makes the best case to the most voters wins is a quaint idea that I haven’t held for two decades now.
If you aren’t familiar with how systematically Black voters in particular have been and continue to be disenfranchised in America, “All In” is eye-opening. It’s a history lesson and a rallying cry, solidly executed if not exceptional. But its message couldn’t be more timely or important.
If you’re already planning to vote this year, “All In” will put fire in your belly. It was already in mine.
If you’re not planning to vote this year, watch it and think about everyone whose access has been systematically stripped by those who don’t want them to count.