Categorized | State Side

The Return of the Rabble Rouser

[moore] Rapturous applause shook the room Thursday, September 30, when Oscar winning filmmaker and best selling author Michael Moore took the stage of the MSU Auditorium. The appearance was part of Moore’s Slacker Uprising Tour 2004. The focus of the tour is to motivate the apathetic among us to get out and vote on November 2. And who better to lead the uprising than an often-controversial liberal icon and, in his own words, the biggest slacker of them all?
One thing Moore is not slacking on is the scope of his tour. Its challenging schedule is set to hit 60 cities in 20 battleground states ending in Tallahassee Fla. on Election Day. Is that even possible? That would mean Moore would have to speak in 55 more cities in just 33 days. With the tour already taking its toll on the speaker, who has a cold, it remains to be seen if he can keep up to his own aspirations.
What won’t be in question is whether people show up to see him. Many of the tour dates are already sold out, and thousands of MSU students waited for over an hour to get into the Auditorium to hear him speak. The situation allowed some not so morally burdened students to make some quick cash by scalping their previously free tickets.
Moore’s appearance brought a wide range of students out to hear his message. “I love his movies and I appreciate the way he brings out issues that people don’t want to talk about, interdisciplinary freshman Dian Dennerll said. “The things that go on in the government that people never find out.” [beer]
Not everyone came with a predisposition towards Moore, some were just curious. Jennifer Latoszewski, a social work sophomore, was an undecided voter but leaning toward Kerry. She wanted to find out if what Moore had to say would influence her decision. “I think there is a lot of truth to what he says in his documentaries, but I also think there is a lot of bias,” said Latoszewski.
Then there were those who would have preferred Moore not speak at all. Members of the MSU Republicans were on hand to form what was at first a small and quiet protest. Gathered together, apart from the growing crowd, they displayed a variety of pro-Bush signs. Their biggest issue with the filmmaker seemed to be abortion, although his message to students had everything to do with the upcoming election and nothing to do with abortion. “Abortion is an exploitation of women,” journalism senior Brenda Alves, said.
Others in the group were offended by the fact that Moore continues to wear a Spartan cap in his speeches and interviews. They felt that because of his high profile he was unfairly representing MSU as a liberal institution.
Their small protest wouldn’t remain that way for long. Emboldened by a surge of Bush supporters the Republicans soon took up position across from the main entrance to the Auditorium. Holding signs and chanting “Stop Moore’s Lies,” they exchanged heated insults with people going in to hear him speak.[page]
[protest] As for Moore, he loves to have the Republican’s attention at his events. In a recent entry in his Slacker tour blog he wrote, “Every minute they spend protesting me is another minute I’ve kept them away from getting out the Republican vote. They should have been making phone calls or going door to door — instead, they were standing in the street holding “4-More-Years” signs.”
During his presentation he welcomed all the Republicans in the room to hear what he had to say, telling the crowd that the Republican Party would not be so generous. He cited the recent visit by George W. Bush’s daughters to campus that was open to card-carrying Republican Party members only.
Before the crowd was even settled, Virg Bernero, the Democratic Senator from Lansing, gave a short speech. Then he turned the microphone over to Nathan Triplett, the chair of the MSU Democrats’ progressive caucus for the official introduction.
Moore wasted no time getting out his message on the importance of the upcoming election. He said there has never been a more critical time facing the country in his lifetime.
“We hope to encourage millions of voters to get out, if just this once.” Moore said smiling. He even appealed to the typical college slacker by informing them that not to worry, the polls would be open late.
“It’s easy. On November 2, I want you to sleep till noon, drink some beer and go out and vote.”
Moore then chastised the many liberals he felt were whining about Bush’s early lead in the polls. Adopting a falsetto to mimic their tone, he berated them for giving up hope so easily. “The Republicans never sound like this,” he said. “They’re relentless, like sharks they just plow forward devouring everything in their path.”
[support] Moore was adamant that a large voter turnout in this election would be disaster for Bush. He ridiculed Bush’s response to 9/11 and criticized the president on his reasons for going to war. He was also eager to share with the crowd recently uncovered information by the Washington Post about further Bush family and Bin-Laden family ties.
He was also very dissatisfied with the mainstream press for not covering the build up to the war well enough or asking the tough questions. He said that the reason that 70 percent of the United States supported the war with Iraq was because they did not have the facts. “If the journalists had done their fucking jobs we wouldn’t be in this mess,” Moore said.
As part of his presentation, Moore played unreleased scenes from his film Fahrenheit 9/11. The footage was shot in Baghdad weeks before the United States and allied invasion. In it the people of Iraq wished that no war would come, but said if it did they would fight to defend their way of life.
The Republican Party’s use of fear tactics in its repeated attacks against Sen. John Kerry was not above his comment either. He was especially incensed by their remarks that if Kerry were elected there would be more terrorist attacks on the United States. “If you vote for Kerry, you’re all going to die,” Moore said degrading the Bush campaign. This did not stop Moore from leveling his own hard-line rhetoric, telling the assembled crowd that under a second Bush administration there would be a military draft.
[page] On the subject of Kerry, Moore presented two sides. For those that think both Bush and Kerry suck he said he wasn’t going to try to change their minds, as long as they voted for Kerry anyway. On a personal level he was very supportive of Kerry, saying that he had been Moore’s first choice for presidential candidate years before he was nominated. He told the crowd that it was very important in the coming debates for Kerry to be decisive and judging from Thursday’s debates he did not let Moore down.
Others in the crowd were not so sure about the democratic nominee. “I’m wishy washy about Kerry. I’m going to vote for him but I don’t think he is progressive enough on a lot of the issues. I hate that he’s the best we have,” Kristin Cole, a third year law student, said.
[republican] Beyond the partisan politics, Moore’s main goal was just to get people out to vote. He even provided extra incentive to members of the audience who had not voted before to promise him they would in the coming election. After pledging to vote on November 2, recent MSU graduate Shannon Serra got a free pack of Ramen noodles, while another lucky student got a pack of new underwear. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get the slackers of America out to vote,” Moore said.
If it is any indication of his effectiveness, following Moore’s visit there were long lines outside the Secretary of State’s mobile office in the parking lot by the International Center. Once there, college students could change the address on their driver’s licenses so they could vote in Lansing and not have to worry about an absentee ballot.
One vote can make a difference, as Michael Moore’s influence shows. If his recent flurry of activity is any indication, Michigan’s own resident rabble-rouser will continue to make a difference for years to come.
For a complete list of tour dates and Mike’s blogs from the road, click over to www.michaelmoore.com

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