Is the Left Nuts? (Or, is it Me?)
by Michael Moore
Is it me, or is the left completely nuts? I won't bore you with the
details of October's Media and Democracy Congress, but suffice it to say
that the left is still in fine form, completely ignoring anything that
really matters to the American public. I'm convinced there's a good
number of you who are simply addicted to listening to yourselves talk
and talk and talk -- MUMIA! PACIFICA! CUBA! ENOUGH ALREADY!
Speaking of talking to ourselves -- just who the hell is reading this?
Who is the Nation readership? Is it my brother-in-law, Tony, back in
Flint, who last night was installing furnace ducts until 9 o'clock? Is
it the bus driver at the airport who told me he's been cut back to a
thirty-hour week so the airport commission won't have to pay the health
insurance for his asthmatic daughter? Is it the woman at Sears who sells
blouses by day, and then waitresses at Denny's from 8 P.M. to midnight?
No. The person reading this would probably sympathize with the one who
wrote the flier I saw at the media congress announcing a "Stop Police
Brutality Demonstration." The flier promised a rally "from 4 P.M. UNTIL
THE TRUTH COMES OUT!" Until the truth comes out? Let me tell you,
friend, the truth ain't ever coming out at your rally, and neither is
Tony the furnace installer, 'cause he's got mouths to feed. But you
don't really mean by saying that the demonstration is going to last
"until the truth comes out" is that it will go deep into the night,
until all self-serving, attention-starved "lefties" have had their hour
and fifteen minutes at the podium. Get a clue! Go away!
Is it true what they say about "the left" -- that it loves humanity but
loathes people? I want to let you in on a little secret I've discovered:
"The people" are already way ahead of "the left." After years of being
downsized, rightsized, re-engineered and forced to work longer hours for
less pay and fewer benefits, they already know from their personal
experience that our economic system is unfair, unjust and undemocratic.
They know the evil it does and the havoc it wreaks on their lives. They
know that corporate America is the enemy, that the media are telling
them lies and that the Democrats and the Republicans are actually the
same party, and that neither is worth voting for. Look at any Gallup
poll and you'll see that the public is very "left" on all the issues --
the majority are pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-labor.
Yet they despise liberals. If they knew where to find the nutty left,
they'd despise them, too. They see liberals, progressives and lefties as
arrogant, self-righteous and dreadfully predictable. They know you won't
ever go have a beer with them, or talk to them about how the Indians did
in teh Series. Christ, can you even name a single Cleveland Indian?
And why should you? You've got The Nation and Pacifica, and food co-op
and your Working Assets credit card. Don't get me wrong -- I love The
Nation and Pacifica and food co-ops and not supporting Citibank. But if
you stop there and refuse to participate in the real world, how are you
ever going to effect change? Back in the eighties thousands of you went
to Nicaragua in Sandinista brigades. Yes, that was important work; our
government was killing innocent people. But I never saw a single one of
you come to Flint while the world's largest company was destroying the
lives of 30,000 families. Where were you when we needed you? The people
in Flint were ready -- Jesse Jackson beat Dukakis by a 9-to-1 margin
there. In the white suburbs, Jackson beat him by a 4-to-1 margin! You
should have come! The right wing did. They organized the Michigan
Militia. It's no accident that Terry Nichols is from the Flint area.
Here's the part I don't get. Remember the antiwar movement, when we
didn't have the American public on our side and actually had to go out
and convince people the war was wrong? That was tough, but we did it.
These days, the difficult organizing work has already been done for us
by Big Business. It has spent the past decade destroying the middle
class and brutalizing the poor. Beating up on the poor, I get -- that's
the way it's always been. But the middle class? What a stupid error in
judgment -- and now there are millions of Americans waiting to vent
their anger and frustration.
And where are we? Inside New York's Cooper Union chanting for Mumia! I
want Mumia to live, I've signed the petitions, I've helped pay for the
ads -- hell, I'll personally go and kick the butt of the governor of
Pennsylvania! But, for chrissakes, the woman working at Sears just wants
to be able to spend an hour with her kids before she heads off to
Denny's. Can't we help her? Do you want to help her?
It's taken me a while to figure it all out, and after last month's Media
and Democracy Congress I think I have the answer: Because "the left" has
lost so many battles, it now doesn't know how to live any other way.
It's kind of scary, isn't it, to think that we could actually reach a
mass audience. Or that after all these years of failure, real change
could actually occur in our lifetime. Better to fight among ourselves!
It's an uncomfortable, unfamiliar feeling, isn't it, to get a whiff of
real populist progressive movement taking shape. Better that we keep
those furnace installers and bus drivers away from us -- they don't read
The signs are everywhere, but "the left" can't read a road map. There's
a whole New Politics taking place, and it's being led by UPS drivers and
Borders bookstore workers. I say, with all due affection and
appreciation for all of you and your causes, get over yourselves and
start talking like a real person, then start talking to real people. You
could begin by hitting 0 every time you get a robot when you call 411.
Have a chat with the human operator -- the phone company will eventually
have to hire more of them. Or sponsor a bowling team and put the name of
your local Labor Party or environmental group on their shirts. Or try
bowling yourself. It's where you'll meet Americans.
<A HREF="http://www.michaelmoore.com/index.html">Michael Moore