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To read more about Episode 287, visit the main episode page.

Michael Moore [00:00:18] This is an Emergency Podcast System episode of Rumble with Michael Moore. 

[00:00:22] I’m Michael Moore. The state legislature and the state House of Representatives in Tennessee has just spent the last 4 or 5 hours, it just ended, and I wanted to put this up here on my podcast and get this out to you right away, because if you have a chance to watch this, I’m sure you can go online at C-SPAN. What just happened, what I just witnessed, what I think anybody was tuning in across the country just witnessed was the real epitome of where we are at right now in this country with our democracy, the threat that it faces, and my belief that this behavior on the part of the right wing, the white supremacist, the Republican Party and what they did today in the statehouse in Tennessee will only guarantee their further demise. They have no clue who this country is anymore. And they made a decision today to suspend democracy in the state of Tennessee. That’s not hyperbole, my friends. The state House of Representatives in Tennessee this afternoon and this evening voted to remove from office two House members. A young black man from Memphis. His name is Justin Pearson. And another young black man from Nashville. His name is Justin Jones. Remember those names. Because what they did and how they stood up today against these right wingers and how they were treated by them, by these Republicans in the House of Representatives in Tennessee, this is going to reverberate across the country and especially amongst young people. I’m sure they’re already watching it on YouTube, CSPAN,org, TikTok, passing it around, whatever, because there were many levels of what I just witnessed here today, the racism of it. There were actually three members, three Democrats in the Tennessee House that they tried to expel today and they expelled the two black members. The two young black men in their 20s. There was a white woman they also tried to expel. A 60-year-old former teacher from Knoxville. An amazing woman who had the good fortune, I guess, to be white because she won by one vote. She was not expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives. But the two young black men, the two Justins — Justin Pearson and Justin Jones — out. Removed. These are people voted into office by the voters of their districts in Memphis and Nashville. And now the voters of those two districts have no representation in the Tennessee House. Gone. 

[00:03:46] Now you’re by this point, “Mike. What are you talking about? What did they do? What did they do to have them kicked out of the Tennessee House of Representatives? What did these two black guys do?”. 

[00:04:01] A week ago today, students all over Nashville marched to the — that’s the state capitol — they marched to the state capitol and protested the fact that Tennessee has some of the worst gun laws in the country. This was two days — two days — after the mass shooting there at the school in Nashville. Three dead 9-year-olds, three dead staff members by a shooter with an AR-15. And so young people, as they’ve been doing for at least since the Parkland shooting, but many young people before that, protesting all this gun violence and the fact that they now as young people, it’s become the number one cause of death for anyone under the age of 18 in the United States — death by gun. Is that the most disgusting and amazing statistic that you could hear? Not cancer. Not car accidents. Not a whole host of things that happen to babies when they’re born. The number one cause of death for children under the age of 18 in the U.S. are guns. So whenever you hear of a teenager dying or an 8-year-old dying or whatever, your first thought from now on must always be, “Oh my God, who shot them? Were they shot?” I mean, if anything is the number one cause of anything, that’s where your head should go first, right? So when you hear of a toddler, a child, a tween, a teen dying, automatically, statistically you should go, “Oh, my God. Don’t tell me more guns. The guns again?” Because it’s the number one cause of death. 

[00:06:29] So what did these three legislators do? The two young black men and the 60 year old former teacher. Her name is Gloria Johnson from Knoxville. And let me just point out something about her. A decade or so ago when she was teaching at Central High School in Knoxville there was a school shooting there. She’s a survivor of a school shooting. And on the floor of the House today, as she was defending her actions, she told the story of that day and all the children running to hide in her classroom because of the shooting in the cafeteria. So she’s already experienced this herself as a teacher. This plague of gun violence. Why were they being expelled from the Tennessee House? Because last week, when all those students came to the state Capitol building to protest, demanding gun legislation — and they did their best to keep them all outside that first day of protests, to keep these young people outside. After that, though, they’ve been getting in and today’s protests were all in the rotunda there in the Capitol in Nashville. But they weren’t getting a voice. Their voice was being cut off. And any Democrat who tried to speak on the floor, the Republican leader, the speaker of the House in Tennessee, would just cut off Democrats or not call on them to speak and then finally turn the microphone off on somebody. This is like a week ago. And so these three House members walked up to the main podium in front of the speaker and he cut their microphone. He cut the microphone off. And so then they just kept talking. One of them had one of those mini bullhorns and they started talking through that so everybody could hear them — to speak out against the NRA, against gun violence, against these mass shootings. Which there have already been over, what, 100 just since New Year’s Day in this country? That was their crime. They were speaking out of turn. They violated the rules of the House. And so bills were introduced, resolutions were introduced, to expel them, to remove them from office. 

[00:09:05] And that’s what today was about this afternoon and this evening in Nashville, Tennessee. The white woman was spared by one vote, just one vote. They needed 66 votes to remove any of them. 65 voted to remove her. And then the two Justins, the two black men, both had like 72, 73, 71, whatever it was, votes to remove them and they were removed. Removed from office. Not just kicked out of the room because they were misbehaving. Removed from office. So each state district in Tennessee has anywhere from 70,000 to 80,000 citizens. You know, they try to divide them up fairly evenly, but because it’s so gerrymandered, even though… Republicans get more voters in Tennessee, but they have a supermajority because they gerrymander the districts to carve it up. Just like they’ve carved up Tennessee for the U.S. House of Representatives, most notably in Nashville itself, a city with a considerable black and Hispanic population. After the census in 2020, when the Republicans redrew the map for Tennessee, they carved the city of Nashville up like a pie. They broke it into three pieces. So instead of the one city of Nashville, there’s now Nashville in, like, roughly three pieces. And each piece was given to a white suburban district. Three white suburban districts picked up a little piece of Nashville and then had a white majority. And so Nashville, which is usually represented by Democrats in the U.S. Congress, now no longer. Now represented by Republicans. Republicans are representing this diverse, vibrant city of music, creativity, arts — a democratic city now represented in the U.S. Congress by two or three separate Republicans. 

[00:11:18] So that’s the context of what happened here today. And each of the three who were accused because they went up to the microphone on that day last week to speak their piece about gun violence and the legislation that needed to pass. The Republicans called it an uprising. They compared it to January 6th. This was a nonviolent, peaceful, if you want to call it a protest I guess it was in a sense, because the speaker wasn’t allowing them to speak, so they just went ahead and kept speaking. So they broke the rule. But one of the individuals, Representative Pearson, Justin Pearson, he did his homework. He said his fiancee is in law school and so she helped him and pointed out how the charges against them — “the charges” — are not true. They weren’t breaking the permanent rules of the Tennessee House. I mean, it was just brilliant the way that [Pearson and his fiance] kind of broke it down and tore it apart and threw it back in their faces. And so then these Republicans, these white men, got to stand up and “J’accuse!” these three individuals. I mean, if it wasn’t so sick, it would be hilarious. But the way that they talk to them, the way that they interrogated them at the podium today — you know, “You know why you’re standing there right now? You know, while you’re in trouble?” Now they’re talking to them — it’s not a complex tone. The tone is very clear. I’m certain, especially if you’re black, and especially if you’re young, to be talked to like, you know, you are a child. And to be talked to like you’re not white. When they interrogated the woman, the white woman, former teacher who “broke the rules,” they changed. They changed. If you get to watch this on C-SPAN or whatever, just watch the tonal change. First of all, she’s white, so they don’t talk to her like she’s black. I mean, if you grew up like I did, starting in the, you know, mid-part of the 20th century, you’re very used to this tone. You know, this you grew up listening to it. Evil. But to hear it in 2023… 

[00:13:42] So they talked to the white woman. They talk like they’re talking to a white person. So some respect. But then she’s a woman. So then it’s a bunch of men mansplaining to her the questions that they’re asking her. And so, again, I think probably if you’re a woman, you know this tone, right? I don’t know. I’m probably mansplaining it right now. But, I mean, it was just like, are you friggin kidding me? And the way that they went after these two young black representatives, these two men. “Now, why do you think you’re standing there, boy?” They left off the “boy,” but it’s there. And in fact, both of them said later afterwards they heard it. They know the tone. They know the sound. “You think you get to come in here just because you’re elected and get to throw a temper tantrum, boy? What I think we have here is a failure to be white.” Hmm. Oh, my God. Please. I mean, I hate to have you listen to this because it’s so frickin disturbing and disgusting, but I think it’s important we know that what we’re up against, it’s important to know it because we keep beating it. We beat these people on Tuesday in Wisconsin. We beat their attempt to take over Chicago on Tuesday in the mayoral election with a Republican running as a Democrat. We beat them in a lot of red states back in November last year. Kansas, Kentucky, Montana — all voted for abortion rights. Michigan, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maryland, all took over their state house. Where their state House and the state Senate are now Democratic controlled. The Governors, Attorney General, Secretary of States in all four states — they all now are fully democratic in those states and they join another, what, 14 other states that are already that way? So we’re pushing 20 states, almost 20 states now where Democrats are in charge. 

[00:16:20] Now, you know, you’ve listened to me long enough or read my stuff or watched my movies. A lot of problems with Democrats, and I’m very clear and vocal about them. And I hope I have helped to contribute by being so critical of them when they do wrong, that we now have more and more and more progressives that are winning, that are sitting in Congress. We have a progressive caucus now with the Democrats in Congress that have well over 100 members of that that are progressives. It wasn’t like that 10 years, 20 years, definitely not 30 years ago. 30 years or even 20 years ago, they were afraid to say the word “liberal” like it was a dirty word. They were made to feel ashamed of it. So they didn’t say it. And they took out things in the Democratic platform. They didn’t want to talk about abortion. They didn’t want to talk about guns. So they removed all that so they could get elected because they were so afraid. And of course, what I’ve been about all these years — I’ve been doing this since even, well, before my first film. That’s how most of you started to know me back then, in 1989. But before that, I was, you know, in 1972, I was the first 18-year-old elected to office in the state of Michigan. The youngest person, one of the youngest, in the country. So, you know, I’ve been doing this for a long time and speaking out to try to, you know, what’s the saying? Move the ball down the field. “Guys, Come on, guys. Move the ball down the field.” So that we do the right thing. So that this madness ends. The fact that they removed people who were elected to office not because they stole money, or they were bribed by some rich person. The last time they removed somebody… I think they’ve only removed two people in the last century in Tennessee. One was for bribery in 1980 and then the other was in 2016 for 22 allegations of sexual misconduct against women there in the state capital. So they they bounced him. You  know, and the Republicans, [when that happened in 2016] had a big cry about “how wrong this is.” You know, they, you know, “This man didn’t get his due process.” [Yet] they informed these three that they were going to be put on trial today, on Monday. They just decided, “To hell with democracy today in Tennessee. You are removed from office.” And the white woman who was not removed by only one vote, she stood strongly and squarely with them. Afterwards, they went outside the state Capitol building. They held hands up in the air. When a reporter asks, you know, like a simple… I don’t want to say “stupid” question because I know the reporter wants to hear her say it. So the reporter says to the former teacher from Knoxville, who was not removed today by one vote, she says, “So, Representative Johnson, why do you think they were removed and not you?” And [Johnson] looked at her and she goes, “Uh, racism.” Like, everybody knows what this is. 

[00:20:10] And also the other thing it is, is, of course,they hate the fact that there are 20-somethings now in a lot of our state Houses. In the U.S. House of Representatives, we have a 25-year-old. Maxwell Alejandro Frost from Orlando, Florida, now represents part of Orlando. They’re in the U.S. Congress. And he was great tonight, too. They had him on talking about it on one of the news shows. Pearson, Justin Pearson, he said as he was standing up there defending himself… Wasn’t really defending himself, he was just give it right back to them. You’re damn right I’m going to stand up for these three nine year olds who are killed and everybody else who’s poor, who doesn’t have health care, who, you know, went down the whole list. And then he stated, he said, “I stand here in this body. I stand for the Lost, the Last and the Least.” The Lost, the Last and the Least. Wow. Holy Thursday, Passover, Ramadan — all of that today. And these people, these Bible-thumping Republicans, these so-called Christians… And when they filed out of there after they did this and they had to go through a gauntlet, a very actually respectful gauntlet of young people, teenagers, 20-somethings. They made way a little space in the aisle for them to walk out. And no violence, no pushing, no shoving. Just a gentle, “You’re a fascist. You’re a fascist. You’re a fascist. You’re a fascist.” as they left. And it’s like — seriously these white guys, the camera angle was beautiful as they walk this gauntlet and it literally looked like they were coming off an assembly line, but I swear to God, talk about how white people all look alike. They just all looked alike. It was like they were coming off an assembly line. One angry, older white guy after another walking out of the chambers and having to pass by all of these young people who’s number one cause of death is guns. Wow. I don’t know. 

[00:23:07] I just wanted to turn on my microphone here, and I wanted to talk to all of you as quickly as possible. I want you to watch this if you can. It’s up on or it’s on TV. If you just have C-SPAN on TV, just turn it on. Each of those districts, like I said, have 70,000 to 80,000 citizens in them. That’s who these three represent. They were attempting to remove the voice of almost a quarter of a million people. That was on the agenda today. Remove the voice in the state House for nearly a quarter million Tennesseans today. And they got rid of two of them. The two who are black. And so you’ve got probably at least close to 150,000 Tennesseans tonight who have zero representation in the Tennessee House of Representatives. In other words, their rights to a democracy were removed from them, not just the representatives being removed, but the 150,000 now who have no voice. That means they have no democracy when it comes to anything going on in the Tennessee House. Now, there’s going to be a special election. I don’t know quite exactly what the procedures are in Tennessee, but both the Justins — Pearson and Jones — afterwards, outside at a makeshift press conference, announced that they were planning to run and come back. And as soon as they said that you had, of course, everyone in their district is going to vote for them and return them to a district full of people who are going to be able to vote now, a district that’s been told, “Right now you have no voice in the Tennessee legislature here.” I think I’m stating the obvious that Justin Jones and Justin Pearson are going to be right back in there. 

[00:25:02] So that’s the good news, I guess, from this. But to be to be a witness to a state represented by its House, voting to essentially end democracy — because if you have 150,000 or a quarter of a million people that no longer are being represented, then you can’t call your state a democracy. Everybody is represented in a democracy. And as we talk right now, that’s not the case in Tennessee. So to witness a destruction of a democracy in a state today was chilling. It was gobsmacking. If you watch this, it’ll start to take your breath away, I think. But I want to tell you, I want to end on this: the good news and the feeling after I sat here and processed it for a while, I thought, “How stupid are the Republicans?” I mean, look at all the seats that they lost in the November election when they were supposed to have that big red wave. And all the states that voted in Democrats. The Democrats ended up with more U.S. Senators after the November election than they had before it. And they only are missing the House here by just a few seats. And I’ll tell you, when you watch this, if you do watch it or you could take my word for it if you want, young people… Young people are watching this. They’re very tuned in. As I speak, I know thousands of them are passing this around the Internet right now, passing this around on social media what they just witnessed. Everything that happened today was one slap across their face and then right back on the other side of their face. That way that these two young black men were spoken to. First as degraded as black men by these white racist Republicans in the Tennessee House, but also because they were young. So they were talked down to in that way too. They got a double whammy for it. And I know enough Gen Zers and Millennials — the Parkland generation, the Columbine generation. I know and work with them. I’ve met enough for them in my years of making films and traveling the country, helping to organize around election time. They’re not going to like this one bit. The looks on these young people’s faces as the white racists file out of the house. Wow. I thought, “Man, these Republicans, in addition to what they’ve done to women, to young women, but to all women through getting rid of Roe v Wade, to all the other anti women…  Geez, Idaho passed a law this week to try and track any woman who tries to leave Idaho or any young woman who doesn’t have permission of her parents who tries to leave Idaho to go get an abortion in another state because they’re going to make abortion completely illegal in Idaho, that they can arrest you. They can arrest you on a felony for sneaking out of your state to go have a medical procedure that you have a right to because it’s your friggin body. So we’ve got a lot of fight here in front of us. But the good news is there’s more of us than there are of them. The good news is, is that every year, 4,000,000 17-year-olds in this country turn 18 and become eligible voters. 4 million a year. Just so you get a handle on that, that means between the election of Biden in 2020 and the election next year, in 2024, that means 16 million teenagers became eligible voters. How many of these teenagers do you think are going to vote for the party of Trump? Because they didn’t in the last few elections and we had record turnouts of young voters. Record. Not like the old days anymore. These Gen Zers, a lot of these Millennials, they vote. They, more than any other age demographic, they’re not racist. They’re not misogynist. And they’re not haters. We taught our boys to respect women. And these kids — remember the old joke Colbert used to do when he had his show there on Comedy Central when he was playing a version of Bill O’Reilly? “I don’t see color. I don’t see color.” That thing O’Reilly used to say. “What are you talking about? There’s no racism here with us. We don’t see color.” Actually, these kids, they don’t. I mean, they may see it for all the good things that color brings, that ethnicity brings, that diversity brings for all the good reasons. But they don’t see it to hate. Now, I’m not saying that’s true for all. I’m not making a huge blanket statement. But I’m telling you, I turned off the TV here after watching this disgusting display of racism and anti-democracy zealots. I turned it off and I just thought, “The young people are going to save us.” I don’t want to put that on them. It doesn’t let anybody else listening to this off the hook. But they know the what what of this, and they’re not going to tolerate it. And if you don’t think they know and you don’t think they’re thinking, what I’m going to tell you, trust me, they think about it, and us, every day. And that is this: the planet that we are handing them, the planet they’re going to have to survive on in the 2060s, the 2070s, the 2080s — that planet… You know what I’m talking about. And they know. They know we aren’t probably — depending on, you know, what your age is here — a lot of us aren’t going to suffer it. 

[00:32:16] And then just remind everybody that ’24 election… We’re in ’23. It’s next year. And it’s not only about the candidates, it’s about ballot proposals. It’s about a whole bunch of things that we need to be doing. We need to be working on it right now. And I’m sorry to sound so like, “You need to do this.” But I mean, you know, if you are a Boomer, if you’re of my generation or whatever, don’t just leave this up to your kids. If anything, out of just our sense of wanting to seek their forgiveness for what they’re going to have to live through 30 years from now, 40 years from now, 50 years from now because we messed it up. Get involved. That’s what I wanted to say here. I hope it wasn’t too disjointed. I didn’t really write up any notes for myself here. I’m just so upset having just turned this off, witnessing another collapse of democracy and yet knowing, knowing, knowing just again this week in Wisconsin, this week in Chicago, this week in so many places people are throwing the Republicans out of office. They are refusing all of their hate. All of their destruction of this planet. It doesn’t go as far as you or I want it to go, but it will if we get more of us involved and do something about it. That’s what I leave you with. We can do this. We have to do it. 

[00:34:01] I want to thank my producer and editor of this podcast, the wonderful Angela Vargos and all of you for listening and sharing this with others. Please pass it around. More victories ahead folks, more victories are ahead. Take care of you and I’ll talk to you real soon. This is Michael Moore. And this is Rumble.