Open Letter to Michael Moore

 
My Open Letter to Michael Moore argues that Moore should follow through on his support Cindy Sheehan and his Social-Democratic beliefs as expressed in SICKO and run for political office in 2008, either at the local or national level, on Cindy's "People for Humanity" slate.

Open Letter to Michael Moore
By Joe Ramsey

Dear Michael Moore:

As you have no doubt heard, Cindy Sheehan is on the verge of running
for Congress. (Indeed, judging by the way that Cindy-related articles
top the "Must Reads" at michaelmoore.com, you have been following her
rather closely, Mike, despite the busy schedule imposed by the success
of your terrific new film.) The Gold Star mother-turned-activist has
issued a bold ultimatum: unless, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D,
CA) begins impeachment proceedings against George W. Bush and Dick
Cheney (something that falls well within her power as Speaker), by this
Monday, July 23rd, (the anniversary of the scandalous but suppressed
smoking gun, the Downing Street Memo) Sheehan will launch an
independent campaign to challenge Pelosi's San Francisco seat in 2008.
Cindy has declared that she will run on the independent "People for
Humanity" slate, and moreover, has called upon others across the
country to follow her example, to run their own grassroots campaigns
"to challenge other corrupt Repugs and do-nothing Dems." Her
announcement will cap a "Journey for Humanity" from Camp Casey and the
Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, up through Houston (the home of
Halliburton), and the devastated city of New Orleans, all the way to
the Washington office of Michigan's own Congressman John Conyers.
There, her anti-war entourage will demand that Conyers push for
impeachment proceedings against Cheney and Bush. Call it Cindy's
"March to D.C."

I write this open letter to you, Michael Moore, in hopes that you will
consider following Cindy Sheehan's example: that you will join her in
pushing for peace, health, and justice, and in challenging the
leadership of the Democratic Party, in the most direct, public, and
strategic manner open to you in the days ahead. That's right, Mike, I
am calling on you to declare yourself a candidate for President in
2008. (Or if not for President, then Congress or Senate, at least.)

On the heels of a trifecta of multi-million dollar, and international
award-winning documentaries, you are far better positioned to run than
Sheehan in terms of national name recognition, and funding. And with
your organized, militant, support from groups like the California
Nurses Association, your popular website, and your hardcore fan-base,
you could quickly shake-up the lukewarm pack of centrist Democratic
contenders; the media would be all over you. You and Cindy could make
a great team for 2008. Are you up for it?

The focus of your campaign could be simple, but powerful. Put it in
just four words: Fund Healthcare, not Warfare. That is: Fund
(single-payer, universal, free) healthcare (for all), and end the wars
now (meaning immediately withdraw all U.S. troops and U.S. bases from
Iraq, and Afghanistan, leaving nothing but an independently
administered war victims' reparations fund, behind).

In announcing and pursuing such a clear, independent political
campaign, Mike, you would be doing this country a great service. A far
better one than you will by publicly, ("realistically") supporting any
of these "actual, existing" Democratic Presidential "front-runners."
Imagine the possibilities...

Perhaps you could ask one of the brave, intelligent, articulate members
of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) to join you as your Vice
Presidential running-mate. Doing so would bring national prominence to
a vitally important, and steadily growing, grassroots organization. I
could see thousands of frustrated, angry veterans of this war in Iraq
(some of whom have posted letters on your website) seeking out IVAW
following the national spotlight you would bring to them. Moreover,
wouldn't it be a fitting follow-up, Mike, to that book of Iraq
soldier's letters you published a couple years back, under the title,
Will They Ever Forgive Us? (Note: Personally, I am still waiting for
the next volume in this series, Mike, focusing on the (translated)
letters and diaries of Iraqis themselves, but that's a topic for
another open letter.) Indeed, you could help support and publicize so
many important progressive organizations like IVAW with a high-profile
presidential run: Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for
Peace, other organizations for free national healthcare, etc.

You wouldn't be running to win, of course, Mike. And you could even
admit this publicly. You could openly admit that you are running to
raise issues, to fire people up to demand fundamental changes from
their government?at the local, state, and federal levels. Most
immediately though you would be running 1) to aggressively
challenge?again and again?the way that healthcare and the war (and
other vital issues) are represented in the corporate media (a la CNN's
Situation Room), 2) to pressure those spineless Democratic candidates
to move left, and 3) to call out the corporate two-party system as the
corrupt billion-dollar duopoly you know it to be.

Remember when Nader ran in 2000 how he was shut out of the nationally
televised debates, not only as a candidate, but even as an audience
member? That's right, even with a ticket in hand, Ralph wasn't allowed
to sit in on the corporate sponsored, establishment-censored Bush-Gore
debates. Let's see them pull that stunt with you! I would love to see
what you and your crew could do with such a preposterous public
spectacle, Mike.

I mean, really, who better to embarrass and expose the ruling corporate
and political establishment that controls American elections?

Now I realize, Mike, that in recent years, you must have made a lot of
friends up and down the Democratic Party who ?to put it mildly?wouldn't
like the idea of your running an independent campaign, actively
challenging their policies, candidates, and their entitlement to rule.
(Indeed, recently I read that your wife is herself a state-wide head of
the Democratic Party in Michigan.) It must be admitted that many of
these Dem-friends will not stand by you should you choose to run
against them. (Remember the way the liberal left relentlessly attacked
Ralph Nader in 2000?) Some longtime Democrats, however, like Sheehan
herself, will join with you. As will many others, including no doubt
tens of thousands of people who wrote you there "healthcare horror
stories" for SiCKO. Cindy Sheehan has recently written that, despite
the invective directed at her from Democratic Party blogs, her
voluminous personal email has been 3 to 1 supportive?often
enthusiastically so?of her decision to run. 3 to 1. Now, imagine the
thousands, even millions, or Americans that you could mobilize, Mike,
not just at the ballot box, but by inspiring hundreds of neighborhood
and workplace Healthcare, Not Warfare Committees, by addressing
picket-lines and protests and mass meetings across this country.

Of course, most of my friends on the Left are telling me that there is
"no chance" that, especially following your harsh criticism and public
dramatics aimed at Nader in 2004, you will ever accept my challenge and
run for President. Fair enough then?If, a Presidential run is too
daunting or too controversial or too disruptive for you to stomach,
Mike, then how about you follow in Cindy's footsteps and run a locally
based, Michigan campaign to challenge one of the "Do-nothing Dem"
Bush-enabling centrists in your neck of the woods. How about, say,
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), who is up for re-election in 2008? As Chair
of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, Levin is one of the most powerful
people in the government at present, and in this capacity represents
one of the major obstacles to building serious opposition to the Bush
War of Terror. (Just the other day, for instance, Levin gushed over
Joe Lieberman while enabling the passage?97 to zero!?of Holy Joe's
belligerent resolution threatening military force against the people of
Iran.) Or if the House of Representatives is more your style, Mike,
how about issuing your own Sheehan-style impeachment ultimatum to
long-admired but now-lagging liberal Rep. John Conyers, another
Michigan D-star up for re-election? I mean, if Cindy's rally and
sit-in at his D.C. office won't kick Conyers into action on
impeachment, then the prospect of facing you in his home district
certainly might! Think different and creatively here, Mike! There are
numerous provocative possibilities! If you really support impeachment
and support Cindy's anti-war mission, then why not seize the day!

I caught you on YouTube on Keith Olberman's "Countdown" the other day,
Mike, and at the end of the interview, you sounded so strong and
convincing when Olberman asked you the key political question: given
the current "centrist" dominated political environment, how can you
actually make a free, non-profit, single-payer government-run
healthcare system happen in this country? You responded perfectly, at
least at first: "It's only going to happen if the people demand it,"
you said. "We have to demand it: a single-payer, government-run,
free-for all healthcare system," one that altogether removes the
private insurance companies and the profit-motive from healthcare
delivery. Right on, Mike! I thought. We have to demand it?you used
that verb, demand, again and again and suddenly it seemed so simple.
There you stood, Michael Moore the great mass mobilizer?for a
moment?Then two sentences later you were changing your verbs: "I wish
[the Democratic Party] proposals [on healthcare] were better"?I "hope
they find their spines;" you stuttered as you spoke. What happened to
demand, Mike? You know better than most the kind of political and
economic power that the movement for free universal healthcare is up
against in this country. As Frederick Douglass put it "Power concedes
nothing without a demand." In this era of neoliberalism and sanctified
'free-trade,' there are powerful class interests, ideological as well
as financial forces, that quite "sensibly" make even the most
well-intending corporate-funded candidate afraid to actively oppose the
sacrosanct profit-motive in any way shape or form (beyond occasional,
populist rhetoric). So then?How can we expect these price-tag
politicians to turn social-democrats without a serious countervailing
force, the kind that was provided by the labor movement of the 1930s,
whose militancy forced FDR and company to embrace the "Four Freedoms?"
As you told Olberman ,"It's not as though people [who care about ending
the war and national health care] are going to vote Republican."
Exactly; so, where else are people going to go? And if there is no
real threat then what is going to turn these Dems against their own
sponsors?

Declare yourself in the race, Mike, and suddenly you'd be back to
demanding, wouldn't you? You'd have some serious countervailing power
to influence these timid, tepid, bought-and-sold Democrats. You'd have
the cumulative energies, hopes, dreams, and demands, not to mention,
the potential votes of millions of progressives and independents across
this country who are fed up with healthcare profiteering, corporate
lies, this bloody war, and the entire political establishment that has
presided over these crimes against the people. People who haven't
voted for decades would come out in droves to rally, campaign, and vote
for you. (I know that I would!) And apart from the poll tallies, just
your presence in the field, in the wake of SiCKO, would have a dramatic
impact on American political discourse. (Not to mention the impact on
ticket sales?!)

And if you're still personally nervous about being cast as some kind
of Nader-"spoiler" you can always cover yourself easily enough. Just
issue your own, Sheehan-style ultimatum, from the start, to the effect
of: I will stay in the race unless and until the leading candidates in
the Party come out to support impeachment, free universal healthcare
and an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and bases from Iraq. At
this point I will go back to making movies. Until then however, I
cannot sit by and allow these so-called opposition candidates to fail
the American people (and the mass-base of the Democratic Party) out of
their own fear, their narrow ideology, and their corporate-cash
conformity. In that case, my next movie may just have to be about the
campaign struggle to challenge them and their policies! (And what a
movie that would be!)

As she walks towards Washington D.C., I have heard that Cindy Sheehan
sports a button that reads: "Well-behaved women don't tend to make
history!" And it set me to thinking, Mike, that you too could proudly
wear a version of a button on this theme. You too, have time and time
again shown an admirable disregard for norms of "proper behavior" when
those norms seem designed to keep people from "making history," or
challenging the powers-that-be. You, now, have an opportunity to
"misbehave," to follow in Sheehan's footsteps, to support her, to
mobilize people, and to make history. Think beyond the Party-line,
Mike, and run!

Sincerely and in the struggle,
Your fan (and friendly critic),
Joseph G. Ramsey
Assistant Professor of English
Fisher College, Boston, MA

e-mail:: joseph.ramsey@tufts.edu phone:: 978-828-9320

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