Washington — “We look like such wimps,” said filmmaker and activist Michael Moore during his keynote address to an event called Watch Us Run at the National Press Club on Friday.
“What do you think the suffragettes would say?” Moore said, comparing today’s causes with the women’s suffrage movement, which he said faced far bigger hurdles, as no women could vote then to make change.
Watch Us Run was described by its organizers, the Huffington Post and Bustle, as a “non-partisan platform for action” and took place concurrently with the inauguration events.
Before Moore spoke, Watch Us Run featured two panel discussions. The first: “Watch Us Get Elected: What Does It Take To Run For Office” focused on how to run a campaign. Christine Quinn, a former New York City Council member, said, “You can set out not to win — just to drive things forward.”
She said that the late Harvey Milk, who experienced loss after loss, was successful in redistricting the city of San Francisco which led to women, Asian Americans, and other minorities being elected to the city’s Board of Supervisors for the first time.
Diversification was a major talking point of the second panel as well, which examined the role of the media moving forward from this election. Panelist Keli Goff of the Daily Beast said that the “key failure of the industry was a lack of gender, race and class diversity.” She said the lack of diversity “literally and figuratively colored the makeup of newsrooms.”
When asked by the moderator if the press failed in covering this election, Hadas Gold of Politico said that she didn’t think that the media failed but “we didn’t quite understand what the rest of the world was seeing. We should have all been paying more attention.”
June Appel, an audience member and D.C. resident, said that she thought that the press had failed. Appel said that because she talked with so many people whose facts were wrong that “I feel that something needs to be done.”
Her daughter, Hal Wuertz, traveled to D.C. from Austin, Texas, to take part in the Women’s March on Saturday. She said that she felt “energized to do something” and that the Watch Us Run made her “feel not isolated. It was empowering.”
Both said they were excited to see Moore’s speech, which was scheduled to overlap with the swearing in of President Donald Trump. “We look weak,” Moore said. “We are weak and we need to admit that they were smarter than us. Donald J. Trump outsmarted us.”
Moore said that winning the popular vote but losing the election showed that something was seriously wrong. The first step to fix that, he said, was for each person to call up their congressman and call for reform every day. He said it should be like “brushing your teeth.”