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2000-06-07

Ficus for Congress

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Claiming that the American people "deserve better," a potted plant, commonly known as "Ficus," is running for the Congressional seat in New Jersey’s 11th District as a write-in candidate on both the Democrat and Republican Party ballots. [includes rush transcript]

The Ficus chief campaign strategist and filmmaker Michael Moore said "Most candidates run unopposed in their primaries and 95% are re-elected every time in the general election. What we get from these Congressmen-for-life is a lot of hot air, a bunch of promises that are never kept, problems like health care and education that are never addressed, more taxes for a bigger military when there are no wars, and a bigger paycheck for Congress when they don’t deserve it."

As Democracy Now Producer Jeremy Scahill reports, the New Jersey Ficus could spark a new branch of government as more than 20 Ficus plants are challenging incumbents around the country. Guest:

  • Jeremy Scahill, Producer of Democracy Now!

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We thought we’d end this segment with another story from there. Saying he wants to counter what he calls congressmen-for-life, guerilla filmmaker Michael Moore ran Ficus plants in congressional races around the country yesterday. He says most congressmen run unopposed in their primaries, and 95% are re-elected every time in the general election. Well, the Ficus for Congress campaign began with a Ficus in New Jersey, which is taking on Congressmember Rodney Frelinghuysen. And as Democracy Now! producer Jeremy Scahill reports, these campaigns could represent a new branch of government.

    JEREMY SCAHILL:

    Within twenty-four hours of the New Jersey Ficus plant’s announcement, Ficus for Congress campaigns began sprouting up throughout the country. There are now more than twenty Ficus plants challenging incumbent congress members from Illinois to Wyoming to Texas. The Ficus top campaign strategist is guerilla filmmaker Michael Moore.

    MICHAEL MOORE:

    It’s amazing to see this kind of Ficus fever sweeping the nation, and I predict that this will help boost the turnout at the election in the fall, an election that otherwise was going to be attended by the smallest number of Americans ever in our history. So hopefully the plant will do some good in bringing some people out, who — you know, unfortunately we don’t have "none of the above" on our ballots in this country, so the plant is a good way to vote "none of the above," or as we like to say it’s sort of a “Fic you” vote.

    JEREMY SCAHILL:

    Moore and other supporters of Ficus for Congress say the platform of the potted plant is currently a six-inch-deep black plastic pot with some New Jersey soil in it, though Moore says the Ficus is considering adding a matching saucer. As for the issues, the Ficus doesn’t say much. Moore says the value of the Ficus, when compared with its opponent, is in what it won’t do.

    MICHAEL MOORE:

    First of all, this Ficus will never vote to put the U.S. into any sort of war or invade a country. This Ficus will never try to block a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body. This Ficus will not cause any harm to the environment. In fact, just the opposite, this Ficus does something that no politician can do: it creates photosynthesis, so, you know, it gives us oxygen. I mean, this is the beauty of this plant, that it actually is doing something that allows us to live, and I don’t think you can say that about a single member of Congress.

    JEREMY SCAHILL:

    Despite the fact that the Ficus had eleven more signatures than were needed to be on the ballot in New Jersey, the state’s Election Division rejected the plant as a candidate, saying the Ficus was not a New Jersey resident and has never been registered to vote, two requirements for Congressional candidates. Nonetheless, the Ficus is continuing its grassroots campaign as a write-in candidate against the incumbent congress member. As for Representative Frelinghuysen, he has said that unlike the Ficus, he is a true Red Oak Republican with deeper roots in the Eleventh District, a statement Ficus strategist Michael Moore takes great exception to.

    MICHAEL MOORE:

    Well, see, we don’t understand why now he’s resorted to ethnic slurs. You know, to go and bring oak trees into this, we don’t understand what that comment means. We would not say to Mr. Frelinghuysen, you know, some comment about some of my best friends are German. I mean, we wouldn’t say that to him. So we resent it, and actually we’ve asked him to try and refrain from the negative campaign that he’s begun to run against the Ficus and to not resort to the politics of personal destruction.

    JEREMY SCAHILL:

    According to the Ficus campaign, if elected to Congress, the Ficus plant will last as long as Strom Thurmond, but require less frequent repotting.

AMY GOODMAN:

That report by Democracy Now! producer Jeremy Scahill.

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