Michael Moore: 10 Things Obama Should Do
Dear President Obama:
Good luck on your journeys overseas this week, and congratulations on decisively winning your second term as our president! The first time you won four years ago, most of us couldn't contain our joy and found ourselves literally in tears over your victory.
This time, it was more like breathing a huge sigh of relief. But, like the smooth guy you are, you scored the highest percentage of the vote of any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson, and you racked up the most votes for a Democratic president in the history of the United States (the only one to receive more votes than you was ... you, in '08!). You are the first Democrat to get more than 50% of the vote twice in a row since Franklin D. Roosevelt.
This was truly another historic election and I would like to take a few minutes of your time to respectfully ask that your second term not resemble your first term.
It's not that you didn't get anything done. You got A LOT done. But there are some very huge issues that have been left unresolved and, dammit, we need you to get some fight in you. Wall Street and the uber-rich have been conducting a bloody class war for over 30 years and it's about time they were stopped.
I know it is not in your nature to be aggressive or confrontational. But, please, Barack – DO NOT listen to the pundits who are telling you to make the "grand compromise" or move to the "center" (FYI – you're already there). Your fellow citizens have spoken and we have rejected the crazed ideology of this Republican Party and we insist that you forcefully proceed in bringing about profound change that will improve the lives of the 99%. We're done hoping. We want real change. And, if we can't get it in the second term of a great and good man like you, then really – what's the use? Why are we even bothering? Yes, we're that discouraged and disenchanted.
At your first post-election press conference last Wednesday you were on fire. The way you went all "Taxi Driver" on McCain and company ("You talkin' to me?") was so brilliant and breathtaking I had to play it back a dozen times just to maintain the contact high. Jesus, that look – for a second I thought laser beams would be shooting out of your eyes! MORE OF THAT!! PLEASE!!
In the weeks after your first election you celebrated by hiring the Goldman Sachs boys and Wall Street darlings to run our economy. Talk about a buzzkill that I never fully recovered from. Please – not this time. This time take a stand for all the rest of us – and if you do, tens of millions of us will not only have your back, we will swoop down on Congress in a force so large they won't know what hit them (that's right, McConnell – you're on the retirement list we've put together for 2014).
BUT – first you have to do the job we elected you to do. You have to take your massive 126-electoral vote margin and just go for it.
Here are my suggestions:
1. DRIVE THE RICH RIGHT OFF THEIR FISCAL CLIFF. The "fiscal cliff" is a ruse, an invention by the Right and the rich, to try and keep their huge tax breaks. On December 31, let ALL the tax cuts expire. Then, on January 1, put forth a bill that restores the tax cuts for 98% of the public. I dare the Republicans to vote against that! They can't and they won't. As for the spending cuts, the 2011 agreement states that, for every domestic program dollar the Republicans want to cut, a Pentagon dollar must also be cut. See, you are a genius! No way will the Right vote against the masters of war. And if by some chance they do, you can immediately put forth legislation to restore all the programs we, the majority, approve of. And for God's sake, man – declare Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid untouchable. They're not bankrupt or anywhere near it. If the rich paid the same percentage of Social Security tax on their entire income – the same exact rate everyone else pays – then there will suddenly be enough money in Social Security to last til at least the year 2080!
2. END ALL THE WARS NOW. Do not continue the war in Afghanistan (a thoroughly losing proposition if ever there was one) for two full more years! Why should one single more person have to die FOR NO REASON? Stop it. You know it's wrong. Bin Laden's dead, al Qaeda is decimated and the Afghans have to work out their own problems. Also, end the drone strikes and other covert military activities you are conducting in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Colombia and God knows where else. You think history is going to remember the United States as a great democracy? No, they're going to think of us as a nation that became addicted to war. They'll call us warlords. They'll say that in the 21st century America was so in need of oil that we'd kill anyone to get it. You know that's where this is going. This has to stop. Now.
3. END THE DRUG WAR. It is not only an abysmal failure, it has returned us to the days of slavery. We have locked up millions of African-Americans and Latinos and now fund a private prison-industrial complex that makes billions for a few lucky rich people. There are other ways to deal with the drugs that do cause harm – ways built around a sense of decency and compassion. We look like a bunch of sadistic racists. Stop it.
4. DECLARE A MORATORIUM ON HOME FORECLOSURES AND EVICTIONS. Millions of people are facing homelessness because of a crooked system enacted by the major banks and Wall Street firms. Put a pause on this and take 12 months to work out a different way (like, restructuring families' mortgages to reflect the true worth of their homes).
5. GET MONEY OUT OF POLITICS. You already know this one. The public is sick of it. Now's the time to act.
6. EXPAND OBAMACARE. Your health care law doesn't cover everyone. It is a cash cow for the insurance industry. Push for a single-payer system – Medicare for All – and include dentistry and mental health. This is the single biggest thing you could do to reduce the country's deficit.
7. RESTORE GLASS-STEAGALL. You must put back all the rigid controls on Wall Street that Reagan, Clinton and the Bushes removed – or else we face the possibility of another, much worse, crash. If they break the law, prosecute them the way you currently go after whistleblowers and medical marijuana dispensaries.
8. REDUCE STUDENT LOAN DEBT. No 22-year-old should have to enter the real world already in a virtual debtors' prison. This is cruel and no other democracy does this like we do. You were right to eliminate the banks as the profit-gouging lenders, but now you have to bring us back to the days when you and I were of college age and a good education cost us little or next to nothing. A few less wars would go a long to way to being able to afford this.
9. FREE BRADLEY MANNING. End the persecution and prosecution of an American hero. Bush and Cheney lied to a nation to convince us to go to war. Manning allegedly hacked the war criminals' files and then shared them with the American public (and the world) so that we could learn the truth about Iraq and Afghanistan. Our history is full of such people who "break the law" for the greater good of humanity. Army Specialist Bradley Manning deserves a medal, not prison.
10. ASK US TO DO SOMETHING. One thing is clear: none of the above is going to happen if you don't immediately mobilize the 63,500,000 who voted for you (and the other 40 million who are for you but didn't vote). You can't go this alone. You need an army of everyday Americans who will fight alongside you to make this a more just and peaceful nation. In your 2008 campaign, you were a pioneer in using social media to win the election. Over 15 million of us gave you our cell numbers or email addresses so you could send us texts and emails telling us what needed to be done to win the election. Then, as soon as you won, it was as if you hit the delete button. We never heard from you again. (Until this past year when you kept texting us to send you $25. Inspiring.) Whoever your internet and social media people were should have been given their own office in the West Wing – and we should have heard from you. Constantly. Need a bill passed? Text us and we will mobilize! The Republicans are filibustering? We can stop them! They won't approve your choice for Secretary of State? We'll see about that! You say you were a community organizer. Please – start acting like one.
The next four years can be one of those presidential terms that changed the course of America. I'm sure you will want to be judged on how you stood up for us, restored the middle class, ended the s***ting on the poor and made us a friend to the rest of the world instead of a threat. You can do this. We can do it with you. All that stands in the way is your understandable desire to sing "Kumbaya" with the Republicans. Don't waste your breath. Their professed love of America is negated by their profound hatred of you. Don't waste a minute on them. Fix the sad mess we're in. Go back and read this month's election results. We're with you.