Michael Moore: President in 2004 or Just Another Stupid White Man?
Film-maker/Writer/Satirist Michael Moore arrived into the consciousness of
America in 1989 with his award-winning documentary Roger and Me, a film with
the goal of asking Roger Smith, chairman of General Motors (then the largest
corporation in the world), how he could close automobile factories in Flint,
Michigan (Moore's hometown) and move jobs out of the country for greater
profits while devastating the lives of hundreds in Flint.
Moore gained fame, numerous awards, and opportunity to make more films,
television, and books targeting corporate and government corruption. His
latest film, Bowling For Columbine, explores America's fascination with guns
and the violence that results from it. His recent best-selling book, Stupid
White Men, attacks the current Bush administration with full force.
Moore's success alone shows that he attracts an enormous following, but what
do the majority of Americans really think about him? Are his political views
popular enough to give him a chance of a four year lease on the White House.
As someone not afraid to stand up for real, working class Americans, Moore
appears to be the perfect candidate for any government office. Why not
leader of the free world?
An internet petition has been circulating recently calling for Michael Moore
to run for president of the United States in 2004. The petition itself is
addressed directly to Mr. Moore and its author, Michelle Walsh, pleads for
him to "put his words and ideas into action" by running to take away Bush's
seat in the oval office. Moore has never shown any hint of running for
president himself, but Walsh hopes a massive number of signatures will help
to convince him otherwise.
Walsh continues, "We anticipate your affirmative reply, and we will gladly
work to show you the level of support you have. Every signature on this
petition signifies a vote for you in the next election ."
As of this writing, only 1029 individuals have signed the online petition.
Over 400 of these are false signatures from people claiming to be such
notables as Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Adolph Hitler, Fidel Castro,
and even 9/11 Hijacker Mohammad Atta. Many have used signature space to
conduct personal attacks on Moore himself, calling him a "fat socialist pig"
and "more likely to run for a box of donuts" than presidential office. One
person used their signature box to taunt all of the serious signers of the
petition, labeling them "communist losers".
Being an American and long time Michael Moore fan, this petition filled me
with a feeling of hope when imagining the possibility of having him as our
next commander in chief. A child of the 1980s in a Ronald Reagan designed
America, I grew up deathly afraid and suspicious of Russians, nuclear war,
and anything un-American. As I grew older, more interested in politics and
more aware of history, it was the work of Michael Moore that helped
influence me to look at my government and world with a more skeptical eye.
He inspired me to take it upon myself to discover the truth and find out the
real story for myself instead of blindly accepting what others tell me.
I admire Moore's work very much and agree with most of his stances on big
business and politics, but when faced with the idea of punching my voting
card for him in 2004, I still have to be skeptical. I asked myself how much
I really knew about Michael Moore aside from his public work and opinions,
and decided to do some research of my own to get to know the man as a real
person. Unfortunately, I found myself liking him less the more I learned
about him. In fact, a lot of the information I uncovered paints him as a
hypocrite no better than his political opposites, and in some cases willing
to stoop to their level for his own gain.
Michael Moore has made his living for a very long time by acting as a thorn
in the side of major corporations and their leaders. He has been known to
stand outside the businesses offices of major corporations, yelling at them
over a bullhorn, taunting them for issues such as the downsizing of their
How would Moore himself react if he was subjected to the same kind of
treatment by someone who disagreed with his views? I found out the answer to
that. Moore had the person arrested!
Alan Edelstein, producer of Moore's tv show The Awful Truth, was fired in
1998. In retaliation, Edelstein followed Moore around with a bullhorn and
camera demanding to know why he was let go from his job. Moore responded by
calling the New York City police and pressing an aggravated harassment
charge. Edelstein spent 9 hours in jail for using the very same tactics that
Moore himself is most famous for.
It's true that Moore does have an enormous audience, but how many people
actually agree with his views? Prior to the November 5, 2002 election, Moore
sent out a plea via his website (MichaelMoore.com) to fans to get out and
vote: "We will deny Bush control of the Congress next week. Expect a wake-up
call from me at your bedside 6 a.m. Tuesday!". Despite boasts of having over
40,000 supporters (known as the Moore Militia) signed up on his webpage,
Republicans won control over both houses of Congress, and voter turn out for
Democrats, Independents, and other liberals was at an all time low.
Although he is known as the hero of working class America, Moore is hardly
working class himself. He no longer lives in Flint, Michigan but on the
Upper West Side of Manhattan. When criticized for the purchase of a
million-dollar home, he responded: "I'm a millionaire, I'm a
multi-millionaire, I'm filthy rich. You know why I'm a multi-millionaire?
'Cause multi-millions like what I do. That's pretty good, isn't it? There's
millions that believe in what I do. Pretty cool, huh?".
If millions of Americans like his work as much as he claims, why do we have
a Bush as president and a Congress totally controlled by Republicans? Why
didn't the "Moore Militia" carry forth his wishes as ordered?
Being a multi-millionaire, why does he dress as though he just got finished
working a shift out on a construction site? Does he continue to dress in the
working class style in order to fool the public? If he were elected
president, would he change his image? I find it hard to imagine our
President Moore of 2004 meeting world leaders in his flannel shirt and
Detroit Tigers baseball hat.
Another issue about Michael Moore that concerns me is that although his
major targets of attack are big corporations like General Motors and Nike,
he works for them himself! Both of his books Downsize This! and Stupid White
Men were published by Random House. Roger And Me was released by Warner
Brothers, and The Big One by Miramax Films which is owned by Disney. These
are some of the largest corporate entities in existence, and the fact that
Moore doesn't mind working with the types of companies he so passionately
fights against is an irony I can't let go of.
A strong opponent of the Nike shoe corporation for the alleged exploitation
of teenage girls in Indonesian factories, Moore was taken back when a former
Nike employee informed him that the shoes that were currently on his feet
(manufactured by New Balance) were most likely made in the very same factory
by Indonesian girls as young as 14-years-old. Granted, nobody is perfect,
and I support Moore's motives, but any respectable journalist needs to have
their facts in order, especially when taking such a moral stance. He comes
across as less credible and uninformed, losing out for his own cause. We've
had enough uncredible leaders in the past and don't need another even if
it's Michael Moore.
In the end, I think Michael Moore has a lot more positive things going for
him than negative. Whatever his true motives may be, he opens a lot of eyes,
exposes things the common person might never see, and I think truly cares
for the rights of working individuals all over this world. Would he make a
good president? I seriously don't think Moore would ever put himself into
that position. However, if he ever does decide to run, I would feel a lot
more at ease marking my ballot for Moore than a Bush.
He may not look very presidential in his baseball hat and flannel shirts,
but at least we won't have to worry about him mispronouncing words.
Aaron Kidd is a former talk radio show producer from the Atlanta area moving soon to New York City to work with the Americorps. Thanks to therecent state of the US economy, he currently delivers pizza in SouthCarolina.