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(Click here to read Ralph Nader's statement)
(Click here to read earlier Jello statements)
Bush and Gore Make Me Wanna Ralph A Letter from Michael Moore to the Non-Voters of America
DISCLAIMER: If you are planning to vote for Al Gore in November, 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 based on what I'm
about to say, George W. Bush might win the election and I certainly couldn't
live with myself if that connoisseur of pharmaceuticals (the kind you snort up
your nose or the kind you inject on death row) won, in part, because of a
letter I spit out over the Internet.< br>
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-whoa, this veep is no stiff, I thought-and thanked me for this and that. He even quoted lines from "The Awful Truth" - whoa, scary, I thought, what's he doing watching cable channels above 40 on the box...not much to do on this veep gig, eh?
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, even if you are just throwing your vote away.
What I am about to say, though, is not intended for any Al Gore (or George W.) voters. If you are one, please click off now.
To Whom It May Concern:
I address this letter to the largest political party in the United States - the 55% 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% of the issues. They take 90% of their money from people who make over a hundred-grand a year, and then enact over 90% 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 D.C. last week announced that, out of 435 House seats up for election in November, there are only 47 seats where there is a "true race" between opponents - and, of those, only 14 seats have a race that is even "close" between the two candidates. 14 out of 435!
"Ninety-seven to ninety-nine 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 November 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% 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!" A chance to act, like that Chinese guy in Tieneman Square, standing in front of a moving tank and stopping it in its path.
In November, we should find a way to follow in the footsteps of those intelligent Minnesotans who, even thought 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 of the Reagan administration, 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 8-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 this very 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% in the polls and won. Ross Perot in ‘92 started with 6% and, after proving to everyone that he was certifiably insane, still got nearly 20% of the vote.
Ralph already has between 7% and 10% in the polls - before he's done any serious campaigning. He's gone from 3% to 8% in my home state of Michigan. These are amazing numbers and the pundits and lobbyists and Republicrats are running scared. Hey, you like to watch scared Republicrats running? Tell a pollster you're voting for Ralph.
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. In a future letter I will write of those experiences but, for now, 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.
And between Gore, Bush, and himself, he's 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). You'll agree, I'm sure, 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 November 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.
November 7. Payback Time.
The revenge of the Non-Voters!
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? The Republican? I don't think so.
The Democrats are only six seats short of regaining control of the House. Ralph Nader will be the reason the Democrats get the House back for the first time since Newt's Contract on America in 1994.
Democrats should send their checks to Nader 2000, P.O. Box 18002, Washington, DC 20035.
(Or, better yet, let's try to elect enough Greens to Congress-a dozen or so- and they'll hold the deciding votes because neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will have the majority. It'll be a friggin' Knesset!)
PPS. If you're still worried this letter might convince a weak-kneed Gore voter to flip over to Nader - and thus lead to President George W. stacking the Supreme Court to make abortion illegal, well, it's all a bunch of hooey. Please read my latest grassroots.com column entitled, "I Ain't Fallin for That One Again" at: http://www.michaelmoore.com/aint.html
PLEASE PASS THIS LETTER ON TO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY. PERMISSION IS GRANTED TO REPRINT ANYWHERE.
Yo! I'm not running for president any more. The Ralph Nader/Winona LaDuke ticket is the nominee. I endorse them. So register! Vote! Show up! Here is what I wrote during the primary season for synthesis/regeneration, the Green's magazine. Thought you might want to read it. –JB
I have been an artist/activist since 1978. I was the leader and creative force of pioneering punk band Dead Kennedys. I have owned and operated a small business, Alternative Tentacles Records, for the past two decades.
I ran for Mayor of San Francisco in 1979, and placed fourth out of ten candidates.
I was the main target in the first criminal trial over a record album in American history. The jury deadlocked and the charges were dismissed. This vaulted me into the national media and lecture circuit as a spokesman on civil liberties. I have locked horns with Tipper Gore, Oprah Winfrey, and many Religious Right activists on this issue.
Besides music, I have released five spoken word CD sets that boil down and promote many ideas dear to Greens and others, including issues such as: human rights, freedom of speech, the Gulf War, the Drug War/Prison-Industrial Complex, globalization and the WTO, and a newer emphasis on how to fight back.
I have been registered Green for many years, and support the Green Key Values and platform. But how do we implement and sell our key values and programs to the general public?
A few ideas:
Enact a maximum wage: Nader's vision is a great idea. When I got the producer to air it on Politically Incorrect I was roundly booed by the audience and guests alike. The host told the viewers I was crazy before he even said my name. People assume they're the ones who'll get hurt when the big bad government hits the middle class with another evil tax.
So let's be generous-no taxes up ‘til $100,000; after that it's payback time. And emphasize the payback: free health care, free education (including an amnesty on all student loans), free transportation (including air travel), and more.
Revenue will be used for the many costly programs in the Green platform and long overdue public works projects, vastly increased subsidies for the arts, especially pirate community radio and television; subsidies for independent organic farms, hemp and kanaf farms (to end dependence on paper from forests), and solar and windmill farms to decrease our fossil fuel gluttony.
Urban blight can be further eradicated by legalizing and subsidizing squatters who fix up long-vacant buildings. This has worked well in Europe when given a chance; think of what it could do for places like East St. Louis or Richmond, VA. Speed up conversion to electric buses, trucks, a national high-speed rail system, and , of course, electric cars.
We don't need a flat tax, but a flattening tax, to truly level the playing field. After all, what causes more damage to the planet, drug addiction or wealth addiction? Hopefully this will raise enough money to fill the cups of everyone who makes less than $100,000, so we'll all be even.
We must close all of the hemorrhaging tax loopholes that benefit giant corporations, including organized religion.
Taxpayers should also be given a multiple choice of the ten or fifteen major areas of government to decide what percentage of their tax money goes where. My guess is that education and the environment will go straight up, and the arms race and the drug war/prison boom will go straight down.
Abolish the Military. All undemocratic and harmful branches of government such as the CIA, NSA, DIA, DEA, ATF, hopefully the FBI, will be abolished and disband all SWAT teams.
Our biggest national security threat is the environmental destruction of our planet, the Earth, and the arms race with… ourselves. So use the defense budget, personnel, and know-how for a new mission: cleaning up toxic waste, rebuilding cities and their infrastructure, dismantling all nuclear arms and satellites, and to help implement worldwide the very environmental and labor practices the Third World WTO delegates complained they can't afford because they are too costly.
Withdraw from NAFTA and the WTO. Wealth addicts have gotten carried away. It is now time for rehab. Earlier in our history there were strict laws mandating public hearings and revocations of corporations' charters for misconduct, and restricting membership on corporate boards of directors to one per person. Let's bring them back.
Irradiated and GM (Genetically Mutilated) frankenfood and other products must be labeled.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 should be repealed immediately.
And workers should be allowed to elect their bosses.
I am pro-choice, pro-feminist, pro-pornography, and pro-drugs. Let me explain:
End the war on drugs. Decriminalize marijuana and illegal narcotics such as heroin, cocaine, and crack. Hard-core addiction is an illness, not a crime. Put users on prescription, and crime will drop dramatically when they don't have to rob and kill to pay the mob's high drug prices.
Any president or governor can ease prison over-crowding by commuting all sentences of non-violent drug offenders to time served right now.
Any president or governor can stop the prison-building boom in its tracks right now by commuting all sentences of non-violent drug offenders to time served. Why not pressure them to do it?
The same goes for the death penalty. All death sentences can and should be commuted at once. I have chosen Mumia Abu-Jamal, a noted author, journalist, and activist currently on Death Row in Pennsylvania on questionable charges, as my vice presidential running mate to show why we should join the rest of the civilized world and halt executions forever.
Most of today's erotic "literature" does nothing for me, especially in the sex department, but the best counter to bad porn, bad TV, bad media, and all hate literature is more education through more free speech, not censorship.
I am an anarchist in my personal life. I try to live in such a way that I don't need cops or baby-sitters to keep me from infringing on the rights/liberties of other species. But I don't feel we are far enough evolved as a species to make anarchy work in society itself. We still need government to transfer the wealth from those who have too much to those who have too little, to make sure important projects get done, and keep territorial humans from screwing over and killing each other.
So guess what? I'm Tough On Crime® so long as/especially when the punishment fits the crime:
End Police Brutality. I would end police brutality by making police officers stand for election every four years, voted on by the districts they control.
Lower the Voting Age to Five. We will see our supposed youth apathy magically turn around when they know they are valued and have a real stake in their future. They should get to vote for their school boards, and why not their teachers?
Education Reform. A full education should include a mandatory class on parenting in order to receive a high school diploma, and drug and sex education with actual drugs and sex in the classroom. Showing how sex is performed with an emphasis on sensitivity could do wonders for combating sexism and date rape. Joycelyn Elders is right: teaching that masturbation is appropriate and not a sin is far more realistic than expecting today's horny, libidinous teens to bury their heads in abstinence.
Meanwhile, nothing gets bigger laughs at parties than our rigid drug czar's wacky TV ads; to put it mildly: they don't work. Students should be able to experiment with drugs in a supervised and controlled setting to learn their limits, not sent blindly off on their own into the risks of hard core addiction.
And we'll even throw in the following:
Election Reform. State and national legislative election should be switched to a parliamentary system featuring proportional representation. Campaigns should be limited to six weeks. Anyone campaigning or soliciting bribes, excuse me, contributions beforehand will be automatically disqualified from the ballot. If NOTA receives over 50% of the vote, a new election must be held with all new candidates.
I apologize to those who feel I should wage a more aggressive campaign. I am locked in my own battle against globalization that has been a huge strain on my time, emotions, and resources. Former members of my old band are suing me with the expressed intent of wiping out 22 years of work because I wouldn't allow them to put one of our best-known songs in a Levi's Dockers TV commercial. Trial begins April 17.
Plus, I voted for Ralph Nader last time [in 1996], and would gladly vote for him again. Should I have let my name be on the ballot at all? On the one hand, I have proven myself to be an effective media magnet and lightening rod for protest votes reaching far beyond the underground popularity of my work ever since I ran for mayor. On the other, should a flamboyant artist, especially one whose sense of humor is designed to strike a nerve, be the main banner-carrier at this stage? Or would more progress be made by the Green Party running only "serious" candidates?
To some I'm a hedonistic loudmouth as wicked as Marilyn Manson, while others take me more seriously than I take myself. I'm not even a good wrestler.
Events in Seattle and around the globe show there are far more people on our side of the fence than we give them credit for. What does it say about our country when people are so desperate for an alternative to our one-party system masquerading as a two-party system that they'll even elect a professional wrestler governor? Steelworkers and eco-activists are marching together. People are questioning whether it is more important to live in a marketplace rather than a community. They question whether competitiveness is more important than compassion and quality of life. More and more young people see corporations as an authority figure to rebel against, instead of buying into every bogus, manufactured pop trend. The spread of Students Against Sweatshops on college campuses is a primary example of choosing a battle that is not only just, but is also winnable, as opposed to not fighting at all because fixing the whole world seems too hopeless.
Don't hate the media, become the media. Film-maker Michael Moore is right: we must spend less time arguing and agreeing with each other, and more time reaching out to other people who may not appear to agree with us, but often share the same underlying concerns. No one who is down-sized out of a job should be allowed to fall for Pat Buchanan. We need to show the step by step ways that each individual can help free themselves from Corporate Feudalism. Condensing and translating the Green Party Platform from lawyer-ese into English, Español, etc. would be a big help here.
Inspire people to at least think of what they might do and where they would fit in if we actually found ourselves in charge. For all their faults, at least the front line opposition in places like the Czech Republic and South Africa had some idea of how they would actually run things if and when they had the chance. We're not there yet.
We must emphasize the importance of voting in local elections, where a smaller group of concerned citizens can make the most difference.
Some people not yet weaned from today's Democratic Party will try to intimidate us by calling us spoilers, siphoning away votes, and tipping close races to Republicans. I say, "Great!" Let's do it some more. The real spoilers are operatives like Clinton, Gore, Feinstein, and the Democratic Leadership Council, who have rendered their party indistinguishable from the party of Bu$h, Inc., and thus made the Greens, New Party, and others necessary in the first place.
As it stands now, we are being farmed. Imagine what we can do if we gain enough seats in legislatures to influence the balance of power and decision making. Imagine what we can do if we get the 5% of the vote in this presidential election necessary to gain federal matching funds for 2004. This is all more than possible, even under current election laws.
So join the Green Wedge!