Why George and Al Make Me Want to Ralph
BY MICHAEL MOORE
DISCLAIMER: If you are planning to vote for Al Gore, good for you. Don't let what I'm about to say change your mind, because I've been told by all the experts that if you do change your mind, George W. Bush might win the election, and I certainly couldn't live with myself if he won, in part, because of something I wrote.
So let's review you like Gore, you vote for Gore. He's a decent guy. I met him last year at some benefit, he came up to me, big hug, and thanked me for this and that. I told him I admired what he did when he came home to America as a Vietnam vet and spoke out against the war. That took a lot of courage, I said (his dad lost his Senate seat for being an early opponent of the war). So, if Al Gore is your man, go for it. In fact, I insist on it. What I am about to say is not intended for any Al Gore (or George W.) voters. If you are one, please stop reading now.
To Whom It May Concern:
I address this letter to the largest political party in the United States the 55 percent of you in the voting public who are so disillusioned with politics and politicians, so sick and tired of all the broken promises, so disgusted with all the b.s. that you have absolutely no intention of voting in November.
You know who you are. AND YOU ARE THE MAJORITY! You rule. You are the Non-Voters, all 100 million of you!
Until now, you have been the subject of scorn and ridicule. You've been called apathetic, lazy, ignorant. Your actions have been viewed as unAmerican. I mean, what kind of citizen in the World's Greatest Democracy would not exercise his or her most important and cherished right the right to freely choose your leader?
Well, may I be the first to tell you that not only are you NOT stupid and apathetic, I believe you are smarter than all the rest of us combined. YOU figured it out. YOU uncovered the scam. And YOU had the guts to no longer participate in a lie. Way to go! In 1996, you helped set the all-time American record for lowest turnout ever at a presidential election.
The reason you, the majority, no longer vote in America is because you, the majority, realize there is no real choice on the ballot. The "two" parties both do the bidding of the wealthy and agree with each other on 90 percent of the issues. They take 90 percent of their money from people who make over a hundred grand a year, and then enact over 90 percent of the laws those contributors want passed.
On the ballot this November, you already know there is no contest. The independent Cook Political Report in Washington, D.C., recently announced that, out of 435 House seats up for election in November, in only 47 seats is there a "true race" between opponents and, of those, only 14 seats have a race that is even close. Fourteen out of 435!
"Ninety-seven to 99 percent of incumbents running for re-election will be returned to Congress in November," according to the Cook Report.
The non-voters already understand this. And they are not going to waste one iota of their day on Nov. 7 driving to some smelly elementary school gymnasium to participate in a Soviet-style election with no friggin' choice on the ballot.
So, to you brave voter-resisters, I say congratulations on your act of civic disobedience! I joined you this primary season and refused to go along with this charade of "choice." Nearly 80 percent of those of us of voting age over 160 million Americans staged a sit-in on our living room couches during this year's primaries. THAT is the great untold story of this election year.
How much longer will the punditocracy be able to get away with dismissing this massive no-show as "a sign Americans are content with the booming economy?"
Now that we have made our presence known (you all don't mind me speaking for us, do you? Good. In fact, I'll just assume the currently vacant mantle of this majority party and serve as your leader until you say otherwise ), it is time to find a way that says, loudly and clearly, just how mad as hell we are and how we are not going to take it anymore. We need to find a way where our vote screams "None of the Above!"
In November, we should find a way to follow in the footsteps of those intelligent Minnesotans who, even though they could care less about professional wrestling (and even less, I'm sure, for Jesse "The Body"), proved to the world that they not only have a sense of humor, but they know how to stick it to the whole bloody system.
Think of just how high their level of anger must have been against the One-Party-With-Two-Heads monopoly! I mean, state government is no joke somebody's gotta' build the roads, run the schools, catch the criminals. You don't want to turn the asylum over to the chief lunatic but, damn it. That's what the people of Minnesota did just to send a message! Wow. That took some guts.
So, for those of you who weren't going to vote anyway, well what if you actually did? What if you drove down to that stinky gym where the little shell game behind the pretend curtains is taking place ("Pay no attention to the voters behind the curtains!"), walk in, sign in, take the ballot they hand you, and toss yourselves inside the booth like a political molotov cocktail.
You wanna' tell me there's a choice here between two guys who both support NAFTA, WTO, the death penalty, the Cuban embargo, increased Pentagon spending, sleazy HMOs, greedy hospital chains, 250 million guns in our homes, more bombing of Iraq, the rich getting richer and the rest of us declaring bankruptcy?
I'm voting for Ralph Nader.
Friends, we are losing our democratic control over our country. We may have already lost it. I hope not. But in the last 20 years, corporate America has merged and morphed itself to such an extent that just a handful of companies now call all the shots. They own Congress. They own us. In order to work for them, we have to take urine tests and lie detectors and wear bar codes on chains around our necks.
In order to keep our jobs we have had to give up decent health care, the eight-hour day (and time with our kids), the security that we'll even have a job next year, and any unwillingness we may have to compete with a 14-year-old Indonesian girl who gets a dollar a day.
And how frightening (and great) is it that the last place we can freely try to inform and communicate with each other is on the Web?
Six companies run by six men control the majority of the news we now get from newspapers, television, radio and the Internet. One out of every two books is bought at a bookstore owned by one of only two companies.
Is it safe in a "free society" to have the sources of our information and mass communication in the hands of just a few wealthy men who have a VESTED interest in keeping us as stupid as possible or at least in keeping us thinking like them so that we vote for THEIR candidates?
I fear the cement on this new oligarchy of power is quickly drying and, when it is finished hardening, we are finished. The democracy, the one that's supposed to be of, by, and for the people, will cease to exist.
We must not let this happen, no matter how cynical and disgusted we've become at the whole electoral process.
Ralph Nader, to me, represents a chance for us to at least temporarily stop the cement from drying. We need him in there kicking things up, stirring the pot and forcing a real debate about the issues. Whether it's Ralph as Candidate or Ralph as President, he may represent our last hope to get our country back from the clutches of the powerful few.
I am not writing these words lightly. I am hoping to sound a siren and rally the majority who, for good reason, have given up but might just have it in them to find the will for one last fight against the bastards.
Can Ralph win? Well, stranger things have happened in the past decade. C'mon, think about it, not a single one of us ever thought we'd see the Berlin Wall come down or Nelson Mandela as president of South Africa. After those two things happened, I joined a new school of thought that said ANYTHING was possible.
Jesse Ventura started with 3 percent in the polls and won. Ross Perot in '92 started with 6 percent and, after proving to everyone that he was certifiably insane, still got nearly 20 percent of the vote.
Ralph already has between 7 percent and 10 percent in the polls before he's done any serious campaigning. He's gone from 3 percent to 8 percent in my home state of Michigan. These are amazing numbers and the pundits and lobbyists and Republicrats are running scared.
Now, look, before you all send me a lot of mail about how weird Ralph is `cause he doesn't own a car or is a "sell-out" `cause he's got a few million dollars, let me say this: I used to work out of his office, and Ralph is definitely one-of-a -kind.
Let's just agree that Ralph is at least half as crazy as Jesse Ventura and about a hundred times as smart. I'd say he's also saved about a million or so lives, thanks to the consumer and environmental legislation he has devoted his life to.
Nader is the only person running who would guarantee universal health care for all, the only candidate who would raise the minimum wage to a decent level, the only one who would get up each morning asking himself the question, "What can I do today to serve all the people of this country?"
The list goes on and on. You can read more about what Ralph stands for by going to his website: (http://www.votenader.org). There's lots of common sense there, regardless of what political stripe you are.
But remember. If you are even THINKING of voting for Al Gore, vote for Al Gore. Ralph Nader does not need a single Gore vote. There are a hundred million of us out there who are uncommitted and currently not voting. Right now, Gore and Bush are each hoping to win by getting only 40 million votes.
If you are in the Non-Voting majority and want to let 'em all have it, if you want to get our country back in our hands...well, if even half of you show up and vote Nov. 7 then you won't be held responsible for Bush winning the White House.
In fact, you won't be held responsible for putting Gore in the White House, either. Rather, you will have made history by putting a true American hero at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And you will have given every company, every boss who's done ya' wrong, the worst nightmare of their lives.
Nov. 7. Payback Time. The revenge of the Non-Voters!
So sayeth their unappointed leader, yours truly,
PS. Come to think of it, Democrats should be on their knees thanking Ralph for running. Rather than taking votes from Gore, Ralph's going to be the one responsible for turning the House back over to the Democrats.
When millions of these Non-Voters enter that booth to vote for Ralph and they come across their local race for Congress, they will find no Green Party candidate in most of the 435 Congressional districts. So who do you think Ralph's army of Non-Voters will plunk down for Congress?
Michael Moore is a writer, filmmaker and political commentator who hosts and produces TV Nation. For more, visit: www.michaelmoore.com.