Conservative writer and documentarian Dinesh D’Souza is not intimidated by the federal election-law charges filed against him late last week.
“I’m going to proceed with my work and my ideas and the film will be unimpeded by whats going on,” D’Souza told The Daily Caller, referring to his forthcoming feature documentary “America,” which he said will “knock out the moral underpinning of modern progressivism.”
D’souza was indicted last Thursday for election fraud for allegedly using straw donors to contribute $20,000 to the losing New York U.S. Senate campaign of his friend, Wendy Long. Facing a maximum of two years in prison, D’Souza pled not guilty and made $500,000 bail. Obama appointee Preet Bharara, the publicity-savvy New York Southern District U.S. Attorney who brought the charges, is speculated to be a top prospect for an Attorney General job in a Hillary Clinton administration. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz suggested that the charges are politically motivated, but Cruz’s comments were edited out of a CBS “Face the Nation” transcript.
Bharara’s office declined to tell TheDC whether anyone else has been charged or is expected to be charged as a result of the “routine review by the FBI” of the 2012 New York Senate race, which snagged D’Souza. “I will have to check on that,” said Bharara’s office spokeswoman Jerika Richardson before declining to comment.
D’Souza is fighting the charges while sitting on what could be his most influential work.
His film “America” is wrapped and set for targeted release in June, with wider distribution expected this summer. A follow-up to his election-year box-office hit “2016: Obama’s America,” his new film digs deeper into the ideological basis that holds together the modern progressive movement. He finds it hollow.
“2016 was a film that was narrowly focused on the ideological roots of Obama. Some people called it a horror film. This film is much broader. Obama and Hillary will be in the film, but it’s about, what is the spirit that builds America and what are the forces that are bringing it down,” D’Souza said.
“Everybody knows that the government works very poorly, and everybody knows that when you put people on the dole, you make them dependent. Bill Clinton said ‘the era of big government is over.’ Given that everyone knows that, how did Obama still get re-elected? The reason Obama got re-elected is he’s saying something a little bit different. He’s saying that people who have money looted people who don’t have it.”
“Obama is saying the government is the agent of restoration, the government is making you whole, the government is returning stolen goods. He’s saying to people, I’m not making you dependent. The government is just restoring to you what was stolen from you.
“Obama is saying is we can be a divided coalition on the left,” D’Souza continued. “Forget about racial reparations. Let’s just do national and even global reparations so we all subordinate our particular issues for the larger issue of general reparation. The Hispanic leadership may be pro-life, but they don’t say two words about it because they’ve been given marching orders… We want to knock out the moral underpinning of modern progressivism. When you do that, all the rest of it falls to the ground. If we convince people that no one is stealing from you.”
For D’Souza, taking aim at the central ideology of the progressive movement will have a bigger impact than simply going after its public face.
“A midterm election doesn’t have the same fever pitch,” he said, referring to the box-office climate that produced his last feature hit. But “the production value will be much higher. We’re trying to make films that are real movies that are just as entertaining as they are informative.”
Living in La Jolla, California, in the San Diego area, D’Souza does his filming in Los Angeles, save for a recent trip to Oklahoma City to direct short-form recreations of key moments in American history for another upcoming project.
“You could say I was perhaps a recognized figure in Washington, D.C., but certainly not across the country. Film does give you a whole new level of visibility. ‘2016’ has been seen by 8 million people. There’s no comparison between that [and a book]. It’s a real opportunity to reach a much wider circle of people. Films work not only on the intellectual level but also on the emotional level.
“If I can be frank, America is a much more interesting topic than Barack Obama,” he added.
But who, in D’Souza’s view, is politically viable enough to lead it?
“I’m sort of expecting [the Democratic nominee] to be Hillary,” D’Souza said, noting that Obama beat her in 2008 because “in the Democratic menagerie, race has a higher value than gender.”
The Republican Party, currently torn by in-fighting between the tea party right and the mainstream establishment, could benefit from more inclusionary tactics in order to compete with the progressives, according to the former Reagan policy adviser.
“I’m not very interested in picking out who’s not a real conservative. I’m more interested in finding people who are sort of conservative and bringing them in… Libertarianism is a very important component of conservatism. But it is not the sole component.”
“I’m not one to say that we need to have a kind of revival of Reaganism, but I do want to point out this. If you look at the three prongs of the Reaganism of the 80s, they were: America should be strong, because there are a lot of bad guys in the world, and you can’t talk them out of being bad. If you distribute you have to make the pie grow. Obama has ideas on how to cut up the pie, but no ideas on how to make the pie grow bigger. And third, we don’t just want a free society we want a decent society. That three-pronged platform is incredibly attractive and it’s a winning platform. Republicans have a really good platform but really poor marketing and really poor candidates.”
But, as the box-office filmmaker is quick to assert: “That’s for the RNC to figure out.”