As Wisconsin Republicans passed Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union bill in the State Senate, a bill in Michigan goes even further. In the measure, emergency financial managers would be allowed to break union contracts, dismiss elected officials, and even disincorporate entire municipalities. Michigan Senate Republicans approved the bill yesterday, and protests are expected in the Lansing State Capitol building today. We speak to filmmaker Michael Moore. “[This] is a class war on the people,” Moore says. “I think that the whole world has been inspired by what happened in Tunisia and in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. And while their problems are different than ours, the spirit is the same. And we need a pro-democracy movement in this country, badly, right now.” [includes rush transcript]
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Last night, filmmaker and activist Michael Moore joined us here in the studio just about an hour after the Wisconsin State Senate Republicans voted on the anti-union legislation. I asked Michael Moore for his reaction.
MICHAEL MOORE: It has come as a real shock to everyone. I’ve been talking to people in Madison for the last few hours. People are still pouring out of their homes into the streets. I just went on MSNBC on Rachel’s show and encouraged anybody within driving distance of Madison to get in a car right now, go to the State Capitol, and take that place over.
This is just such a travesty. And for it to happen on the same day, because just a couple hours before that, the state of Michigan, my state, the Senate voted — the House already passed this bill — the Senate voted on a bill that gives the governor the so-called "emergency powers," where he can essentially fire the elected mayor or city council or school board of any town in Michigan and turn it over to a corporation — I’m not making this up — turn it over to a corporation to run the town, or appoint a corporate manager to run the town — not the elected people, but this individual or this company can run the town. I mean, it’s just — these two things in just the last few hours.
If people don’t understand by now the level of this war — and it is a war, it is a class war on the people of this country by those in power and the tools that they have bought and paid for, who now serve in these legislatures — well, I’ll tell you this much: by the time this is airing here in a few hours on your show, people will already have been to Lansing. They’re going to pack that rotunda tomorrow at the Lansing — today, the Lansing State Capitol, Thursday. Also, later today at noon in Indianapolis, there’s going to be a huge demonstration there. Their Democrats have skipped out of town, in order so that they don’t have a quorum. And the people are already there on the grounds of the Capitol building right now tonight, as we stand here. And I think that’s going to continue. It’d going to go further.
And I just got word from high school students in Madison. They’re calling for a student strike, a walkout, on Friday afternoon at 2:00. And they’ve now invited students across Wisconsin and the country to have a mass student walkout — high school students — at 2:00, your last hour of class on Friday. Everybody march out and pick a place where you’re going to meet and have your rally. And have your voice be heard about what these adults are doing to your education, because they are purposely setting it up so that you will be screwed for the rest of your life.
AMY GOODMAN: The talk of a general strike?
MICHAEL MOORE: If it comes down to that, that’s what’s going to happen. Believe me, if they keep pushing like this — I saw it in Madison. I listened to what the firefighters were saying there, the Teamsters. People are going to shut the country down. Unions themselves are not going to be able to organize that, because they’d be violating the Taft-Hartley Act, but it doesn’t matter, because the unions haven’t really organized this, to begin with. This really came from students and other people that just got mad and said, "I can’t take it anymore." I think that’s what’s going to happen. I think that’s — I hope it doesn’t get to that, but if it does, it does, and that’s what’s going to happen. And people are going to do it. And I’m going to be right there. I’m going to be right there with everybody. If we have to shut it down, we’re going to shut it down.
It really is a new day. And I think that the whole world has been inspired by what happened in Tunisia and in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. And while their problems are different than ours, the spirit is the same. And we need a pro-democracy movement in this country, badly, right now. Not next week, now.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you going back to Madison?
MICHAEL MOORE: I’ll be — I’m going to go — yes, but I think, first, I have to go to Lansing at some point, because I’m — I mean, I’m here in New York now. I’m working on my next project. But I went to Madison last Saturday. But I’ve been in contact with everybody back home in Michigan. And really, if you look at this Michigan bill, it’s actually — if you can say, if anything can be worse than Wisconsin, it’s actually worse, because it literally is a corporate takeover and a nullification of the democratic rights of the people of the state of Michigan. It’s just the most horrendous thing. I never thought I would see this in my day.
Once the Republicans and the corporate power structure saw that they could get away with the looting of the federal Treasury and taking millions of homes from people, they got away with that, and there was no revolt, there was no uprising, there was nothing. And Obama comes in there, and he appoints one of them as our Treasury secretary. Nothing, silence. Well, if you were a big shot on Wall Street, Amy, and you saw that — "Oh, my god! We just like got billions of bailout money. We now are getting the Fed to print what will eventually be trillions for us. We’ve thrown a million families out on the curb, foreclosing on them. And they just don’t do anything. They don’t do anything" — as with any criminal, what does that tell the criminal, if the criminal is not stopped, caught, punished for the crime that they’ve committed? They will keep committing the crime.
And the crime of today, of these last 24 hours, of what they’ve done in Michigan, in Wisconsin, and what they’re going to try to do in all these other states, they think they can get away with it. But I think they’re wrong. I think they’ve overplayed their hand. I think that people are going to come out in droves over the next 24 to 48 hours. I think they’re going to have the largest demonstration ever in Madison on Saturday; at least a quarter-million people, I wouldn’t be surprised, show up on Saturday in Madison. This is going to happen all over the country. These high school students are doing their thing.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you, Michael Moore.
MICHAEL MOORE: Well, thank you, and thanks staying on top of this and for everything you’ve done about this issue. This is a turning point. I feel it, feel it deep in my heart right now. And the protests are so random and so not organized by the old-school power structure of these sorts of things. And I think that they’re going to get their comeuppance, those who did this and who are continuing to do it. And I encourage everybody who’s listening or watching, this is our moment. This truly is our moment. Everybody, up off the couch right now, please. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. He said he wasn’t going to make any more films until people started doing something in this country. I don’t know, this may be the moment.