Step Up To Mike’s Challenge

michael_mooreOur great buddy Mike is angry. For the past 20  years, Michael Moore, our everyday hero, has worked hard for us. He’s documented sadistic acts against us by industry and government. He’s exposed case after case of devious schemes that robbed us of our homes and our jobs, sent our children to war, and sacrificed our health. He’s given us irrefutable proof that our leaders lied us to war, our insurers denied us care, and our lenders deceived us into hopelessness and destitution.

Mike’s been our teacher, our ally and our devoted friend. Few people in recent memory have worked harder to inform us – ALL OF US – of the inhumanity and greed that are decaying our nation, which we perpetuate through apathy and inertia.

It is our apathy and inertia that frustrate our pal Mike. No matter how much he tries to revive us, we still don’t seem to revive. We continue the same behavior that leads to our demise. We elect socio-sadist politicians who finance themselves off our sorrow. We enrich socio-sadist bankers who leave us homeless and in debt. We toil for socio-sadist employers who terminate our jobs. Despite all we’ve learned from Sicko, Fahrenheit 9/11 and Roger and Me, we continue to take this abuse.

The punches keep landing. The socio-sadists score blow after blow. POW! Another foreclosure. POW! Another job gone. Again and again we’re down for the count. Politicians retain office, corporations turn profits, and we sell our blood to get by. We’re perpetual victims. No wonder Mike’s so angry that at the end of his new movie he challenges us to act.

Our pal Mike, who’s never asked a thing from us, is now asking us to act – and act fast. At the end of Capitalism: A Love Story , which I saw on September 25th, Mike issues this challenge to his audience:

“You know, I can’t really do this anymore – unless those of you who are watching this in the theater want to join me. I hope you will. And please, speed it up.”

Mike’s right. He can’t solve our problems on his own. He can’t create a movement all alone. He’s given us the truth for 20 years. He’s exposed the thieves, liars and sadists we elected to office. He’s shown us the thieves, liars and sadists who run the corporations that foreclose on our homes and refuse us medical treatment. Mike’s shown us the enemy. If there’s to be a movement to rescue our economy, to restore its humanity, and close the gap between rich and poor, WE-THE-PEOPLE have to do it. Mike’s done his part. It’s time that we do ours.

But what is Mike’s challenge?

Here’s his response to that question when asked by Chris Matthews on Hardball on MSNBC:

I want them [the American people] to start pressuring our Congress people to get the money out of Congress. We need publicly financed elections and we need the people deciding how this democracy is run.

Pushing our Congress to pass legislation for campaign finance reform is a move toward freeing legislators from entanglements with big money interests who finance their campaigns – and to whom they presume allegiance.

We can do this. We can step up to Mike’s challenge. Right now in the House and Senate there is key campaign finance legislation called the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA – S. 752 in the Senate and H.R. 1826 in the House).

FENA was introduced in the Senate by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), and in the House by Representatives John Larson (D-Conn.) and Walter Jones, Jr. (R-N.C.). If passed, this bill allows federal candidates to run for office without relying on large contributions, big money bundlers, and donations from lobbyists. Candidates will be free from constant fundraising to focus on constituent needs.

I’ve called my Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and my Congressman Henry Waxman, to ask their support for FENA. If you visit Change Congress, you can do the same.

We live in a participatory democracy that requires participation beyond voting. As Mike tells CNN’s Anderson Cooper (in the video below), Americans can’t vote every two and four years, then walk away and expect our democracy will just fall in line:

The Democrats may control the House, Senate, and the Presidency, but the corporate sadists, like health insurers and Wall Street financiers, control the Democrats and Republicans. As long as there are back room deals with big money special interests, the American people will suffer.

We see from the substantial contributions made to Democratic and Republican Senators and Representatives by the health care industry, that electeds’ opposition to legislation that eliminates corporations is expected. Also expected is universal single-payer not being on the table since it cuts corporations all together. The ongoing histrionics behind the battle for a public option speaks volumes to the need for public financing of campaigns. Only when lobbyist bribery is entirely forced out of campaigns can we have any probability of honest representation.

Gratefully, my resident state of California is moving forward on campaign finance reform. The Fair Elections Bill, AB 583, authored by California Assemblymember Loni Hancock, will appear on the June 8, 2010 ballot. Californians who are interested in working to bring campaign finance to California are welcome to volunteer to help pass this landmark legislation.

According to California Fair Elections, campaign financing is currently quite successful in seven states where the system has been in place. Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Vermont have all adopted Fair Elections systems. In the seven states and two cities where the system is being used, nearly 400 candidates were elected using only Fair Elections funding in their 2008 campaigns. Since public financing was first instituted in Arizona and Maine, elected officials have passed bi-partisan critically important legislation that would not have been possible if they continued to fear retribution from powerful special interests. In addition, more women and candidates of diverse backgrounds have won election in these states.

At the end of Capitalism: A Love Story, before he issues his audience challenge, our pal Mike tells us:

We live in the richest country in the world. We all deserve a decent job, health care, a good education, a home to call our own… and it’s a crime that we don’t have it. And we never will as long as we have a system that enriches the few at the expense of the many. Capitalism is an evil and you cannot regulate evil. You have to eliminate it and replace it with something that is good for all people. And that something is called DEMOCRACY.

My overly expensive iPhone dictionary app (Wordbook, $7.99) defines DEMOCRACY as:

1. the political orientation of those who favor government by the people or by their elected representatives.
2. a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them.
3. the doctrine that the numerical majority of an organized group can make decisions binding on the whole group.

I deduce from this definition that if our elected officials represent those who bribe them over those who elect them, democracy doesn’t exist. Thus, in our current system, we do not have a democracy. It is crystal clear to me why our pal Mike is challenging us “to start pressuring our Congress people to get the money out of Congress.” I understand why Mike believes “we need publicly financed elections and we need THE PEOPLE deciding how this democracy is run.”


I’m wholly on board with our buddy’s challenge. I will participate fully and energetically to get the bribery, thuggery and robbery out of government. Only when that task is accomplished can a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, exist.

Thanks, Mike, for issuing this challenge!

Linda Milazzo


  1. Joe Weinstein says

    We do NOT need more public ‘financing of elections’. For three reasons. In increasing order of importance:

    (1) The least reason is that the misleading phrase ‘financing of elections’ really means ‘financing of individual candidates’ election CAMPAIGNS’. But smart voters know (and so would everyone else, if only a small effort were made to spread the message) that it doesn’t take attention to expensive biased glittery campaigns to get the real scoop on what the candidates stand for or have done. Internet postings already do that, and with a little bit of extra work could do it even better. And smart candidates are anyhow using Internet at very low cost to reach out. Indeed, the Obama campaign apparently made money off of the Internet.

    (2) More important, even justified campaign costs are only an excuse of politicians who are looking for an excuse to be corrupt. What allows politicians to BE corrupt and corrupted is the fact that humongous decision power is concentrated in them. Acton 1887 said pithily what the ancient Athenians already knew: power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The cure to abuse and corruption is to deprive everyone – including would-be abusers or corruptees – of the power that permits the abuse, or that is sold out to the corrupter.

    Put another way, the causes of corruption – like any crime – lie in a combination of motive, means and opportunity. Motives are personal and can be concealed, but our present system lavishly gives political officers – the oligarchy of power-holders – both the MEANS – their power itself – and the OPPORTUNITY – all manner of decisions and long terms.

    (3) Most important, the cure is therefore not better elections, but abolition of the oligarchic system where in just a few politicians get to make (or sell out) all manner of public decisions over long terms. It matters little whether that oligarchy is chosen by heredity or tradition or appointment or elections, nor whether the elections are cheap or expensive. What does matter is that we no longer have decision-making by a small all-powerful oligarchy.

    Instead, borrow a cue from ancient Athens and our modern courts, and let public policy decisions be made by many deliberative juries of ordinary but qualified and willing citizens, chosen at the last minute and at random, and each serving manageable short terms measured in days or weeks, not months or years or decades.

    Notice that a bonus of this truly democratic approach – yes, democracy is about more than majority rule, and it doesn’t really mean that a political oligarchy can properly represent you – is that elections and their expenses become needless diversions. Instead of irrelevant but expensive popularity contests, we institute a fair way of enabling many more qualified citizens to participate in manageable way.

    We could do it better than did Athens, because we have a much broader citizenry and far better educated. Further, thanks to our existing constitutions we also are used to the precautionary principle (which in Athens wasn’t always applied to their grand Assembly decisions) of separation of powers. This principle would require that passage of any laws should require two independent juries.

  2. John Moffett says

    Thanks Linda, and it’s true, until we get the money out of elections and politics, the system will be run by corporate lobbyists. But even if FENA passes, which seems like a long shot, the Supreme Court is poised to strike down all campaign finance limits, or at least a large swath of them.

    Not only do I expect Chief Justice Roberts to break his promise to the American people and legislate from the bench by overturning McCain Feingold, but I expect him to work with the other conservatives on the court to overturn any laws that Congress passes in this area.

    But if Mike gets his way, and the American people awaken and demand fair, public elections, then maybe the pressure on Congress and the Court will win the day. But its going to take a lot of awakening and action for that to happen.

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