Election Day is not a federal holiday in America (yet), and it doesn't call for any exploitation by Hallmark. Each year it even results in a lot of unhappiness. But the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is a day for celebration, because it is a day to recognize the right to vote as much as it is a day to exercise that right. When I think of Election Day festivities, I envision the "Election Day bonfire" described by Harpo Marx in his autobiography "Harpo Speaks." This was a biennial tradition in the Tammany-era New York City that the Marx Brothers grew up in, and I can only imagine what a delight it was to have such an observance on this day. For me, festivities are as simple as renting a political-themed film, particularly one about democracy, such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or Manderlay. This year, I decided to choose a non-fiction title, but with so many political documentaries coming out these days, it was hard to pick just one.
This year alone has seen a number of election-related docs released, including one nominated for an Oscar (Street Fight). There is a yet-to-be-released film on the political career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is up for re-election today. There is a doc about voting machines called Hacking Democracy which premiered on HBO last Thursday and which will be airing again today (unfortunately, I don't have cable). And of course, An Inconvenient Truth will be released on DVD later this month. It isn't directly about an election or voting, but it is sort of marked by the reminder of Gore's loss in the 2000 election.
So, with all the choices out there for me and you for doc-watching on Election Day, I've narrowed down a list of seven that are worth checking out for different reasons. They aren't all great, they aren't all liked by me and there's one I haven't actually seen (I'll give you a hint: it just recently came out on DVD and isn't available yet from Netflix).