Michael Moore elicits a fantastic range of reactions at the national level. But I have just one reaction when I see the man on television: He's one of us.
Michael Moore, of course, is a Michigander. He grew up near Flint, wears his Tigers' cap everywhere and now lives near Traverse City. And in that beautiful Lake Michigan town, Michael Moore has created a film festival that rehabbed an historic downtown theater and brought hundreds of thousands of visits. Of course, Michael Moore and I share a secret: We both think that Michigan is a great place to live. And why not? The state has 10,000+ lakes, more than a thousand miles of shoreline, fantastic universities and a vibrant cultural scene. All those pictures of closed auto plants and empty buildings are true, but they aren't the only story.
And now Michael Moore has a new vision for Traverse City. Last week, he published his ideas for new community projects in the Traverse City Record Eagle:
Among the ideas that Moore has for his adopted hometown: digital transformation, downtown redevelopment, creation of a "jobs ambassador," implementation of a state graduated income tax, improvement of higher education opportunities and more quality-of-life amenities for young people.
Those aren't exactly revolutionary ideas, but Moore has been able to implement a nice chunk of that vision through his film festival and related rehabilitation projects. In fact, Moore notes in the story that the reclaimed State Theater has been the #1 grossing theater in the country for the movie that it plays 27 times since it reopened.
Of course, Moore had to work with a lot of Republicans in NW Lower Michigan to get the job done. And he has a bit of a dreamy vision that seems to have worked in TC:
Democrats here need to acknowledge that there are a number of wonderful Republicans who care deeply about this area. Republicans need to turn off AM radio and give themselves permission to vote for a Democrat every now and then. We have more in common than not. We are all in the same boat. We can have our differences, but please, for the good of our town, let's all roll up our sleeves and get to work!
What I most love about Michael Moore is his ability to live fully in context. He can point out the massive problems in his home state and still choose to celebrate what is great about it. He can critique political opponents in his films, but still work with them on items of vital interest.
The bad news comes fast and furious in the State of Michigan, but Michael Moore has brought a lot of happiness. Thanks for loving this state as much as I do.