Northwestern College Republicans screen ‘2016: Obama’s America’

Amy Whyte, Reporter

With the presidential election drawing nearer, the NU College Republicans hosted a screening of “2016: Obama’s America” in Annenberg Hall on Sunday night.

The 91-minute documentary by Dinesh D’Souza has received national attention since its release last July. The film attempts to explain Obama’s political motivations by looking at the past experiences of Obama and his father.

Dane Stier, NU College Republicans president, said the screening of the film was part of the national College Republicans’ initiative to show the documentary to college campuses.

Stier said he believes the purpose of the film is not to sway voters one way or another.

“I don’t see it as staunchly anti-Obama,” Stier said of the documentary. “It was more of a psychological study.”

Some have denounced the film, with critics such as the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Steven Rea calling D’Souza’s argument “provocative” but “dubious.” However, audience reviewers on film review website Rotten Tomatoes have called the documentary “eye-opening” and a presentation of “the truth.”

Stier called D’Souza’s argument that Obama’s political decisions are influenced by his father’s origins in Kenya a “cool perspective.”

“I think it’s an interesting argument,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s correct. If people agree with it, it’s okay. If they don’t, that’s fine.”

The film was introduced with brief speeches by Ben McKay, a regional representative from the national College Republicans organization, and Tim Wolfe, the Republican candidate running for Congress in the 9th District.

“This election in particular is the most important election, I believe, of our generation,” McKay said. “I think the film does a fantastic job of explaining (that fact).”

Wolfe echoed McKay’s assertions about the importance of the election, asking audience members to volunteer and help with his campaign.

After McKay and Wolfe spoke, College Republicans played the film for an audience of about 25 people – fewer than they had hoped to attract, Stier said, citing midterms as a possible reason for low turn-out.

“I think there was also some that came to the door and looked in and realized we were Republicans and left,” he said.

At the documentary’s conclusion, audience members burst into conversation, comparing opinions on the controversial film. Weinberg freshman Harrison Flagler said he found the documentary “very interesting.”

“I think that he (D’Souza) did a great deal of research,” Flagler said. “It’s clear that this is something he’s passionate about and he presented a strong argument.”

A member of College Republicans, Flagler said he was already certain of how he was voting prior to watching the documentary. He said the film further solidified his beliefs.

“I don’t think it will change how people vote,” Stier said. “It’s more academic or intellectual.”