It has been nearly five years since I last saw Michael Moore’s documentary on the American health care system. Back then, I remember that it riled me up to a degree. It was my first Moore film and I did not know much about him. I am now a bit older and wiser, I’ve been exposed to Roger and Me as well as Capitalism: A Love Story. In other words, I now know that he is more than a bit left of center and is not above extremist views. I also know that he is a fan of meshing entertainment and politics, often focusing heavily on the entertainment part. I think I was better adept at giving constructive criticism this time around.
The film spends the first half hour showing us case after miserable case of the people that our non-universal health care system has wronged in one way or another. We see cut off fingers, dying babies, and other tear jerking accounts. Moore is a talented filmmaker, but not necessarily a good documentary filmmaker. He knows how to subdue the audience with tragic, and probably rare, incidents before he moves into his political stances. He paints Congress members out to be evil, and of course his favorite head of state, Mr. Bush. He strives his hardest to paint a dreary picture of the American scene, being only briefly optimistic over Gitmo health care as the punch line to a nearly two hour joke.
But Michael Moore knows that if he lets people leave the theater feeling bad, they won’t respond to or remember his films as much. He wants you to feel good, know that the system is broken, but there is hope. And where is there hope? Ever hear the phrase, “the grass is always greener on the other side”? In this case, it’s the other side of the border in Canada, which has universal health care. The other side of the Atlantic is mentioned too, notably Great Britain and France. Even the other side of the political spectrum, Cuba, is revered for its positive practices in policy. In these places, we meet ex-parliament members that have ideal views of democracy, expats from the United States that are living well in the socialized system, and even firefighters that Moore makes you think respect 911 workers more than anyone in America. No one is mean, or even mild mannered. Everyone is charming, lovely, happy, and most importantly healthy.
I’m not saying that there is no truth to the benefits of socialized medicine, I actually support the idea (though not in the God awful way that Obamacare has been designed). I accept that the United States is severely flawed in this regard and must change. What I do not support, however is the way in which Michael Moore presents the issue. He is not a balanced commentator on the issue. He is hell bent on presenting his views as a mandate from heaven, while any other alternative is brutish and equivalent to seventeenth century standards of the evil monarch. He wants you to cry over your situation and drool hungrily over what the other side has. He does not consider any of the consequences of the implementing such policy here, how long it would take, and what is reasonable or achievable. He presents himself as nothing short of the ideal American, but this American thinks he’s anything but.