Tomorrow is Election Day and I for one will be happy I won’t be seeing another Jaime Harrison, Lindsay Graham lie…..I mean political ad. I’m trying to come up with a humorous quip but the only thing I can think of is the problem with political jokes is that they seem to get elected.
I love Jimmy Stewart. He is the greatest actor of my lifetime and every movie he has ever been in is my favorite movie. One stands out, especially on the cool November 2nd afternoon a day before the latest most important election of our lifetime.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” courtroom film from 1939, directed by the great Frank Capra and stars none other than a young and energetic James Stewart who is my favorite actor of all time. Did I mention that?
The gist of the movie is Jeff Smith (Stewart) finds himself appointed to the US Senate after the death of his predecessor, Smith’s crushed when he realizes that he was only appointed to “decorate a seat.” In response, Smith takes action to propose a bill to build a boys’ camp where, unbeknownst to him, a dam is soon to be built. Smith himself fights single-handedly in the Senate against a political machine, corruption and his idol, Senator Paine.
One of the things that the film does so well is capture how our politicians can be bought through corruption. It’s not right and it’s one of the worst things about the American political system. Perhaps this explains why so many Washington politicians didn’t like the film in 1939 and I’d be willing to bet they probably don’t like it in 2020. This is why the Oscar-winning (Best Writing – Original Story) film stands the test of time. Jefferson Smith is the type of politician that they don’t make anymore.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington remains one of the best political films ever made and makes us only dream of a time that may or may not have existed when a politician could not be bought off. Haaaaaaa did I just write that???????????? A politician not being bought off. Sometimes My humor amazes even me. But then again, we live in a world where Russian bots and Facebook algorithms can distort reality in terrible ways, where truth is fake news and the word of the powerful is all some people will believe as long as it allows them to live in comfortable ignorance. The idea that an honest politician trying to do some good could be painted as a criminal by a powerful political machine is intimately familiar to all of us nowadays. Even so is the idea that when the truth is out there, people still won’t care.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is an incredibly cynical, yet realistic film. It stated something we take for granted now: that Washington is corrupt, that our elected officials are generally far more interested in reelection and lining their own pockets than doing something decent and right. It tells us that even when the truth is out there, things won’t change. But there is a second, far more hopeful message in the film: that one person can break through all that greed and cynicism to truly appeal to the human decency in another and change their mind. I know Mr. Smith Goes To Washington is a fantasy. In the end, the movie makes us believe that one day, someone will listen when the people speak and things can get better. The movie definitely was a fantasy. Unfortunately for every Mr. Smith there are more like Senator Joseph Paine a corrupt senator who was a major cog in the political machine in Washington in the movie and that is the rule in 2020 DC not the exception.
So let’s get the vote out and listen to all the politicians who will promise us change in Washington even though they have been there 47 years or vote for the one who has been there four years and driven everyone crazy and is a turd of a person. As for me I’m going to crack open my bottle of Glinfiddich 18 single malt and hopefully by 9 pm Rebecca will be waking me up and helping me to bed. They say I’m apathetic but really I don’t care.