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An Open Letter to Michael Moore (AKA God’s Pen Pal)

Dear Michael:

I apologize for writing you an open letter because you are busy corresponding with God.[1]

I did not want to write an open letter, but I penned a private one to you some time ago and received no response.

We have met on numerous occasions and have known each other for almost a decade, so I would appreciate an answer.

The point of this letter is to ask you to reconcile your completely contradictory written statements and public pronunciations about voting your conscience on the one hand (Independent Ralph Nader in 2000) and supporting candidates who oppose all the key issues you support on the other (Democrats Barack Obama in 2008 and John Kerry in 2004.)

I’m concerned that your written and oral statements are so contradictory that you are losing any residual political credibility you might have enjoyed. I think the youth of America and non-voters deserve answers, as you have anointed yourself as their representative.

We first met back in 2000 when you supported the Ralph Nader for President Campaign. We met at numerous Super Rallies that Nader held all over the country to sold-out crowds ranging from 20,000 in Madison Square Garden to 15,000 in Portland, Oregon to 12,000 in Minneapolis.

Your message at each rally was crystal clear: vote your conscience. At Madison Square Garden you bellowed while inveighing 20,000 people not to vote for of Al Gore: “The lesser of two evils is still evil!”

One week before the 2000 election, you wrote a letter to Gore:
Look, Al, you have screwed up — big time. By now, you should have sent that smirking idiot back to Texas…. You should have wiped the floor with him during the three debates. But you didn’t…. …You don’t realize that it’s YOU and the Democrats that are responsible for the possibility of Bush winning next Tuesday….

Instead of…owning up to your mistakes, you and your people are blaming some rumpled senior citizen lawyer who is only following his conscience….Ralph Nader has devoted his entire life to making the rest of our lives better. Because of him we have the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the EPA, OSHA, airbags and seatbelts, the Freedom of Information Act — the list goes on and on. What have YOU done to save a few million lives?

…You and your “New Democrats” abandoned the poor, the working class, and the middle class….You and the Democrats have created the monster know as “W”…

I want Ralph Nader to get millions of votes on Tuesday. I have seen the response to Ralph at numerous huge rallies across the country. There is a progressive movement afoot in America and it needs to explode into a majority movement — beginning now, not four years from now…. I will not feel one iota of guilt should you screw up and lose on Tuesday. The blame I do share is that I voted for you and Bill in 1992…[2]

Your position in 2000 could not have been more steadfast.

By 2004 you decided to back John Kerry and the Democrats. You traveled around the country telling college students NOT TO VOTE for Nader after telling them TO VOTE for Nader in 2000.

By 2008 you have become a full-on cheerleader for the Democratic Party.

You basically endorsed Edwards in the primary (good call!) and now you are campaigning all out for Obama; I even saw you on Larry King the other night saying that Obama’s convention speech sent chills up your spine. (Do corporate ads for Pepto-Bismol get you misty as well?)

Last month you wrote a piece calling anyone who voted for Nader “crazy.” [3]

Earlier in the year you appeared on Larry King and a fan of yours called in and observed that since none of the Democratic candidates support single-payer national health insurance – which you do – that you should support Nader.

Your response was surprising: you called Ralph a “sad” reflection of his former self and urged people not to vote for him. (I can’t remember if this was before or after you told King that one of your top priorities as president would be to give all Americans HBO.)

Many progressives are quite puzzled by your behavior regarding Nader given that he once employed you when nobody would and helped bankroll your first film. But apparently, gratitude is not your long suit.

I ran into you late in January, 2006 when we happened to stay at the same hotel during a vacation. I approached you at dinner, introduced myself (you, of course, had no idea who I was despite having met me numerous times) and then you proceeded to tell me yourself that Ralph Nader is “crazy.” (Fortunately for you, Ralph is a public figure so your constant repetition of this accusation is not actionable.)

After our meeting I decided that regardless of your erratic behavior, progressive people really should work together rather than fighting one another, so I sent a bottle of wine to your room and penned you a handwritten note apologizing for any disagreements with the Nader camp in 2004 and asking for reconciliation.

You neither wrote back nor thanked me for the wine.

Now, in 2008, you are at it again, relentlessly telling people to abandon their beliefs and to abandon the Nader campaign.

I thought I would compare how your current advice measures up to your past writings.

On November 7, 2000 you penned a “Final Election Day Letter” urging your supporters to back Nader no matter what and in every state. Stunningly, your support for Nader was couched in inviolate moral terms: your letter makes clear that you would always vote for an idealist like Nader and that to do so is a duty to the next generation and to posterity:

For some reason, I never grew up, and, I guess, weirdly enough never gave up hope. To hear my fellow baby boomers this past week instruct me in the intricacies of “strategic voting” and “the lesser of two evils” and “you see, a vote for this guy is really a vote for that guy,” made me wonder how I missed the boat — the one on which you learn to act “responsible,” and be “pragmatic,” and, of course, “compromise.”

That’s why it’s been so refreshing to be around the young people who have thronged by the hundreds of thousands to the Nader campaign. They don’t want to hear about settling for the second worst guy. They can’t comprehend their elders’ pleas to abandon their conscience and do something in the voting booth they don’t believe in. These young people are filled with a fire to stand up, speak out, and make this world a better place. Nothing — not even the fear of the Bogeyman Bush — will smother their passion to do the right thing.

Today, my daughter will vote in her first election. I believe the worst thing I could do as a parent is to tell her that she should not be following her own conscience. I will not tell her to be “realistic”; she will have plenty of time to deal with the harsh realities of this world. Why should she begin her adult life having to settle for something she doesn’t believe in?

Has our willingness to compromise, to vote for the lesser of two evils, gotten us better candidates? Has our abandoning the beliefs and positions we once so strongly fought for resulted in a better life for the poor and the working class?

At some point, you have to say enough is enough. Today is that day for me. I will go to the polls and vote for Ralph Nader. I am doing so for the only reason you should ever vote for anyone. I am voting for Ralph because it is what my conscience says is right. I am doing what they taught us to do in civics class — vote for who you think the best candidate is. Period.

How many of you can honestly say Ralph Nader is not the best candidate? Don’t reach into your bag of rationalizations — just answer this one question honestly. If you want all the dirty money out of our elections, you HAVE to vote for Nader because he is the only one — not Bush, not Gore — who would eliminate it entirely. If you think the minimum wage should go up more than 50 cents an hour in the next year, then you HAVE to vote for Ralph Nader as he is only one who would raise it to a real living wage. If you believe there should be universal health coverage NOW, then you have to vote for Ralph Nader because he is the only one who would sign that bill. Click here (”20 Reasons to Vote for Nader”) and look at this list. And if find yourself in agreement, then how can you NOT vote for Ralph Nader?

Do not vote from your fears, no matter where you live. Decisions made in fear are usually the wrong decisions and lead to lousy consequences. You have to find the courage to act on your convictions. Remember what that felt like? To believe in something, even if it was against all the odds?When Rosa Parks took that seat at the front of the bus, do you think she was afraid? You bet she was. …The revolutionaries that founded this country were not stymied by their fear of King George. And they did not even have the support of 75% of the colonists! Nevertheless, they followed their conscience.…Can we not aspire to what those who came before us were willing to do so that we would ALL have the right to vote our conscience today? Do we not dishonor them by our willingness to settle for less than our conscience demands?[4]

Your 2000 letter was quite compelling. What bothers me and others is that you have completely repudiated your own writings by your words and deeds since 2000. After telling America’s students, and you own daughter, to vote their conscience, you are now telling them to vote for the lesser of two evils, a position you swore you would never adopt.

As disturbing, from my perspective, is that you have removed from your website the “20 Reasons to vote for Ralph Nader.” [5] This is something a corporation would do when damaging documents are exposed: just shred the evidence.

Years ago you had some intelligent things to say about politics. More recently you seem interested in getting attention by driving an ice cream truck around Capitol Hill and writing books with chapters titled: “Do The Democrats Still Drink From A Sippy Cup and Leave The Light On,” as you all the while promte the Democratic ticket. You like to hang out with Madonna and God and will get on board with any candidate you think might win. Oh, and you once registered a fichus tree as a candidate for Congress. That was useful.

In school, I always enjoyed the class clown, but I would never go to him for political advice. I’m afraid that is what you have become.

Actually, what you have become is best summarized in the following paragraph:

I have seen the slippery slope that type of behavior leads to in the baby boom generation. First, you start with little chips away at your conscience. You agree to do things that don’t seem to directly harm any living thing, actions in which you convince yourself, “I guess I can live with that ’cause the alternative would be worse!” But bit by bit, as you start to abandon what you believe in and compromise your values, you end up being able to rationalize any action. Before long, you give up and head to the middle. You learn that it is safe there. If you strive for complacency and mediocrity, the system will reward you. Promise not to upset the apple cart and you will end up with more money, a nice house, lots of gadgets, and oodles of things. Who wouldn’t want that! But all of this compromise — not doing what you know in your heart of hearts to be right — not only destroys you as an individual, it weakens our democracy.[6]

Remember those words, Michael? You wrote them. You have become what you vehemently opposed.

Ralph Nader’s legacy will be exactly what you said it will be: that of a serious and great American who made a difference by saving million of lives.

Unless you return to your more effective roots, your legacy will be buffoonery, cheapening the political discourse and disillusioning the next generation.

I am reachable by phone or email.

Yours,

CARL J. MAYER

CARL J. MAYER, an attorney, volunteered to support the Nader campaign in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. He can be reached at 609-462-7979 or carlmayer@carlmayer.com. His website is carlmayer.com. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Harvard Business Review, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer and numerous other publications.

[1] See “An Open Letter to God, from Michael Moore,” August 13, 2008 at michaelmoore.com
[2] “An Open Letter from Moore to Gore,” October 31, 2000 at www.michaelmoore.com.
[3] “How The Democrats Can Blow It In Six Easy Steps.” August 13, 2008, Rolling Stone.
[4] “A Final Election Day Letter” November 7, 2000 at michaelmoore.com.
[5] “A Final Election Day Letter” November 7, 2000 at michaelmoore.com.
[6] “A Final Election Day Letter” November 7, 2000 at michaelmoore.com.

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