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Michael Moore Just Doesn't Get It

by John Spritzler

November 5, 2012

Like many others, I received an email letter (reprinted below) from Michael Moore, addressed to "a Non-Voter," explaining why I should vote for Obama, despite all the bad things he's done. His argument is simple: Romney will make things even worse for the "middle class" than Obama will. As evidence, Moore points to how much better things were in the past for our parents under Democratic administrations than Republican ones.

What Moore fails, or refuses, to acknowledge is this: the policies implemented by the government are not determined by the person who happens to be President; they are determined by a social class consisting of the very wealthiest people and those, like CEOs and intellectuals, who act on their behalf by managing things and people, and thinking strategically about social control. The President's job is not to make policy but rather to implement it. The purpose of elections is to keep people from making a revolution for a genuine democracy by persuading them that our fake democracy is real. This is why both the Democratic and Republican party get funding from the same people and corporations, and why they both get favorable treatment in the corporate-controlled media. The policies of the ruling class are not developed by the President; they are worked out in ruling class organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Business Roundtable, the Brookings Institute and the Commitee for Economic Development -- organizations open only to the wealthiest people in society and those they invite to help them rule the nation. These organizations represent a social class, not the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. For example, the CFR includes both Condoleeza Rice and Bill Clinton.

The reason that things have been better or worse in the past under this or that political party is not because one party makes things better or worse than the other. The explanation is that the strategy of social control that the ruling class adopts changes over time, in response to changing circumstances, in particular changes in the way that ordinary people think and behave in their struggle to make society more equal and democratic. A major shift in the elite's social control strategy occurred in the 1930s. During the Great Depression millions of Americans decided that capitalism was the problem, and there were increasingly revolutionary labor strikes throughout the country that, to suppress, the ruling class was forced to rely on National Guard troops. Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously admitted that his New Deal was intended to save capitalism. FDR created something new in the United States--a social safety net, with things like Social Security and Unemployment Compensation and government-created jobs. This was a change in social control strategy, from the stick to the carrot.

By the 1960s, however, the "carrot" strategy was causing enormous problems for the elite. People had rising expectations and felt secure enough economically to engage in the radical social upheavals of the 1960s--the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-War Movement and even a Welfare Rights Movement to abolish poverty. In the 1970s the ruling class decided that it was necessary to lower people's expectations. Business Week proclaimed in an editorial on October 12, 1974:

“It will be a bitter pill for people to swallow—the idea of having less so that big business can have more. Nothing that this nation or any other nation has done in modern history compares with the selling job that must be done to make people accept the new reality.”

This reflected a decision by elite organizations to regain their threatened social control by lowering the expectations of Americans, a policy that has continued to this very day; it is the reason that Michael Moore can point to how things are worse for us than for our parents. It is the reason that our parents' or grandparents' virtually life-time guaranteed jobs have been replaced by the fear that one's job may be outsourced to India or China or Vietnam any day. It is the reason that Democrat Ted Kennedy and Republican George W. Bush co-sponsored the horrible No Child Left Behind law that dictates that school children now be subjected to high stakes standardized tests designed to ensure that many will fail and conclude that they are not good enough to deserve a decent-paying job. It is the reason that the "Peace Dividend" that we (who are old enough to remember) dreamed of enjoying when the Cold War ended, and the "Leisure Society" that we were told would arrive as automation made work less necessary, never came to pass. It is why, instead of trillions of dollars being available for making ours a more enjoyable world where we work less and have greater security, we are either unemployed or have to work two jobs to support a family and those trillions go for waging a War on Terror based on lies.

The changes that Michael Moore points to are real. But his claim that these changes were caused by Republicans instead of Democrats being president is absurd. It won't matter whether Romney or Obama is president. The same people will be calling the shots in either case. This is why we need to start Thinking about Revolution. Contrary to Moore's last line, our being at the polls instead of in the streets is exactly what they want.


Letter to a Non-Voter ...from Michael Moore

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

To my friend who is not voting on Tuesday:


I get it – and I don't blame you. You're fed up and you could care less whether Tweedledee or Tweedledumber wins on Tuesday – because on Wednesday, your life will be the same, unchanged, regardless who is president. Your mortgage will still be underwater. You will still owe $50,000 on your student loan. Your son will still be in Afghanistan. Your daughter will still be working two jobs to make ends meet. And gas will still be at $4.


Four years ago you gave in and voted – and you voted for Obama. You wanted to believe he would go after the Wall Street crooks who crashed the economy – but instead the banks that were "too big to fail" four years ago are now even bigger and more dangerous. You thought there'd be universal health care – but the new law only went so far (with most of it not taking effect until 2014). You were tired of war and homeland security measures that violated our civil liberties – but we're still in Afghanistan, we're sending in drones to Pakistan and basic constitutional rights to privacy and a fair trial have been ignored. And you thought you'd have a middle-class, good-paying job like your dad had – but you didn't know that Goldman Sachs was Obama's #1 private campaign donor in 2008, and well, he was beholden to corporate America in more ways we cared to think about.


So, I get it why you've had it with all these politicians and elections. In the end, it doesn't really seem to be our country any more. It's run by those who can buy the most politicians to do their bidding. Our schools are made a low priority and women are still having to fight for just the basic human rights we thought they already had.


So, it's hard for me to ask you for this very personal favor. It's OK if you say "no," but I'm hoping you don't.


I cannot believe it is possible that, after a group of rich plutocrats wrecked the economy, threw people out of work and stole our future, we may actually hand the keys to our country over to...a rich Republican plutocrat who made millions by throwing people out of work! This is insane, and despite all the legitimate criticisms of Obama, he is nothing like the tsunami of hate and corporate thievery that will take place if Mitt Romney is president. As bad as it feels now, it will only get worse. I need your help to stop this.


I can't promise you that your life will get better, easier under Barack Obama. I do think he cares and I know for sure that if the other guy is sitting in the Oval Office, I can guarantee you that not only will your life not get better, it will get much, much worse. Don't take my word for it. Just ask your parents what life was like before a 30-year pillage by the Republicans of the middle class. Your parents bought a house and eventually owned it outright. They weren't in debt. College was free. They bought a new car every 3 or 4 years. They took vacations and were home for dinner by 5 or 6 PM. They had a savings account in the bank. They didn't live in fear of not knowing if they'd even have a job next year.


That's all gone. I don't know if we can get it back, but I do know that Mr. Romney would love the chance to complete the final elimination of the middle class and the American Dream.


He must be stopped. Take 20 minutes on Tuesday and go vote. If you don't want to do it for your country, then do it for me! It's the only favor I'll ever ask of you.


Thanks for taking the time to read this. I know that you care, and care deeply, about your future and your kids' future. You have every right to be cynical about all this. And you hold the power to stop the bastards who plan on squeezing every last dime out of you that they can. Take a stand. And make a statement to those who are hoping against hope that you'll stay home on Tuesday. Your presence at the polls is what they fear most.


Go scare the s**t out of them! For me.

Michael Moore

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