Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike's Letter

August 13th, 2000 12:00 AM

And Now, for the OTHER Republican Convention

Looking back on the past eight years, I'd have to say that Bill Clinton is perhaps the best Republican president we've had since Abraham Lincoln. 

Abandoning the traditional Democratic role of improving life for the working stiff, Clinton did things that Reagan and Bush could only dream of. Twelve years of a Republican in the White House couldn't make NAFTA a reality. It took Bill Clinton to push through a trade bill that guaranteed the loss of hundreds of thousands good-paying American jobs and did nothing to raise the standard of living for the Mexican worker. 

As loud as Reagan and Bush complained about lazy welfare queens, it was Bill Clinton who got Congress to eliminate the federal welfare program. And he threw in a bonus -- he INCREASED welfare for the rich in the form of tax breaks, incentives for business and overseas development. 

Ronnie & George the First never could have gotten away with this. The Democrats in Congress would have been all over them in an attempt to look like they were sticking up for "the little guy." 

But what are they to do when they have a Democrat in the White House? Democratic congressmen who may want to oppose these trade bills or assaults on the poor are paralyzed because it's THEIR team in the Oval Office. The smartest thing the Republicans could do to continue the Reagan Revolution is to actively push for the election of Al Gore. 

So, the Democrats (or ?New Republicans? as I like to call them) are heading to Los Angeles to show the Old Republicans how to really throw a convention. They won't bother with a "Step 'n Fetchit" show as the Republicans did in Philadelphia, rounding up every black Republican they could find and trotting them out on stage like it was "Showtime at the Apollo." Republicans trying to look like Democrats works about as well as a guy in a dress -- it looks like a guy in a dress. But Democrats doing a Republican impersonation is like a woman wearing a suit -- it just doesn't seem out of place. 

Throughout the Los Angeles convention we'll be reminded of the great economic strides during the Clinton/Gore years. Of course, no one onstage will point out that while the top 10% got really, really rich, the bottom half saw their bottom fall out. The majority of Americans are in debt up to their ears -- the largest consumer debt this country has ever carried. Last year, for the fifth straight year in a row, a record number of personal bankruptcies were filed. People are working two jobs, the 8-hour day is a joke, health benefits, vacation time and pensions have been slashed, gutted and eliminated. 

I wonder if Al Gore will mention any of this. He is, after all, the son of wealth and privilege. We expect him to continue seeing that the rich get richer and the poor go to prison (now at two million and climbing, a number Nixon and Reagan probably never thought possible!). 

But what we didn't expect was the son of a working class mother (who, at times, couldn't afford to care for him and sent him to his grandparents to live) to enter the White House and help the wealthy and the corporate elite cement their position as the REAL power in our crumbling democracy. Bill Clinton has done more to defeat the spirit of the average American, a spirit that used to believe we could all make a difference if we participated in our government, than all the bloated Republican presidents of the 20th Century combined. People no longer vote; they'd rather watch Martin Sheen play a decent president than think about the reality at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. 

In 1968, a different kind of Democrat was shot dead in Los Angeles, minutes after winning the California primary for President. But bullets can't kill a dream or stop a movement to improve the lives of ALL Americans. 

That takes real work and a guy in a dress. 

Michael Moore

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