By Donella Meadows
–October 22, 1998–
Michael Moore’s election message is bouncing all over the Internet. “OK, I’ve had it,” says Moore, the maker of the film “Roger and Me” and the show “TV Nation.” “I propose a legal act of civil disobedience.”
Moore says he is not a Democrat and did not vote for Bill Clinton in ‘96. But he is infuriated by the impending impeachment. The people elected Clinton twice. A strong majority wants to let him serve out his term and to stop the raking-over of his admittedly distasteful private life. “I have never seen the American public so fed up and disgusted,” Moore says.
“The act of civil disobedience I am calling for is for each and every American to go to the polls on November 3 and vote for the Democratic candidate for Congress on your ballot. That’s right, my fellow cynics …, the only way to send a true message to the right wing is to throw every Republican out of office…. The Republicans are hoping and praying that the turnout will be low, figuring that the public is so burned out … that they are just going to stay home,” while “their own diehard conservative supporters WILL be at the polls, come hell or high water.”
Moore apologizes for asking anyone to vote for a Democrat, “the sorry, wishy-washy losers. But this election is not about how we feel about them — it’s about US using THEM to whack the right wing for good.
“I can think of a lot of reasons why Clinton should not be president,” Moore concludes. “Staining a blue dress from the Gap is not one of them.”
Enthusiastic friends keep forwarding this screed to me, but when I show it to other friends, they respond wearily, “My district is already Democratic.” Or “My district has been Republican ever since I can remember. I’ve given up.” Or “I can’t stand either the Democrat or the Republican running this year.” Or “I hate both Starr and Clinton; I don’t want to encourage either of them.” Or other excuses for not bestirring themselves on November 3.
To which I can only reply, if you’re disgusted by the whole sordid Washington drama; if you dread the thought of more testimony and more lascivious details; if you’re sickened by sanctimonious lectures from known adulterers claiming to be shocked, shocked by adultery; if you wonder how the Constitution could have been brought so low; and if you nevertheless do not vote — well, you’ve thrown away the only way to complain they will ever notice. More than that, you’ve helped set in stone the idea that lying about adultery is an impeachable offense and that exposing the private lives of public leaders is an acceptable political tool. Think of the long-term implications. Go vote.
There’s another reason to follow Moore’s advice: Newt Gingrich. Polls consistently say that something like 75 percent of us would never vote for this guy, but he’s the Speaker of the House, the controller of Congress, two heartbeats away from the presidency. Why? Because the Republicans have a majority. With a Democratic majority, most (never all) of the hot air will leak right out of Newt, along with his power.
Those would be two fine outcomes, but my real reason for joining Moore’s revolution, though I’m also no Clinton fan and no Democrat, is the Republican attitude toward the environment.
As of this writing, two days after the behind-closed-doors flurry that determined how $500 billion of your and my money will be spent next year, environmentalists are still sifting through the two-and-a-half-foot-thick budget, trying to discover how many anti-green riders are tucked away in there. What they expect to find — because the GOP does this all the time — is waivers of environmental laws for private exploiters of public lands, gross underfunding of environmental regulatory agencies, blockage of management studies, and handouts of prime public property to special friends. The Republicans always add these riders in secret, because they are too repulsive to stand the light of day.
The League of Conservation Voters (see http://www.lcv.org), reports that House Republicans score an average of 24 out of a possible 100 pro-environment votes. (Democrats score 72.) The Republican leadership scores only 11; Rep. Don Young, chairman of the House Resources Committee, through whose hands all these sneaky riders pass, scores a rousing 3.
Says LCV President Deb Callahan, “This Scorecard depicts a Congress that, on balance, was more interested in undercutting, rather than underscoring, popular environment and public health protections. Rather than advancing proactive policies that benefit the health and well-being of our families, our communities, and our natural resources, Congressional leaders attempted to benefit a narrow set of special interests who believe that concerns for ever-larger profits outweigh public health and conservation interests.”
If you think the whole political game is too crooked to deserve your participation, then go vote to get money out of the game. At the moment that also means vote for Democrats. The Republican leadership has buried every attempt at campaign reform, even attempts sponsored by Republicans. Frankly, I don’t trust the Dems to do anything earth-shaking in this realm either. But an overwhelming turnout at the polls would get their attention. If they didn’t come up with campaign cleanup very quickly, we could vote them all out next time.
Whatever your preference, rise out of your cynicism and vote. Stun them with the turnout. Tell them why you voted the way you did, and keep your eye on them.
If you don’t, our nation will be run by nothing but money and dirty laundry.
Copyright Sustainability Institute 1998