Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Has Mr. Smith Left Washington?

Tonight I sat down and I did something that every American should take the time to do. I watched “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” starring one of the greatest actors, James Stewart. Released in 1939, screenplay by Sidney Buchman and story by Lewis R. Foster, this movie is the familiar tale of power run amuck in Washington. Watching this movie tonight, I was struck by the similar circumstances we find ourselves in today. In the film, Mr. Taylor “owns” the state that Mr. Smith has been recently appointed to represent. Mr. Taylor is big business and has the newspapers, politicians and other powerful individuals in his back pocket. He called the shots and pulled the reins. Today, instead of running one state, the Mr. Taylors of this world have gone global.
A man who controls a political machine--and everything else worth controlling in that state--powerful enough to buy men and put them in this Congress to legislate his graft! – Jefferson Smith
Today we have men and women Taylors such as Abramoff who exchanges large sums of money and gifts in exchange for congressional and presidential favor. The scope of this reality is so extreme that it boggles the mind. FC-Politics offers a comprehensive list of parties involved, up to 60 “respected” and “bought and paid for” lawmakers, including democrats and republicans, as well as other powerful “Taylors” alike. Marie at The Right Left Story also offers an extensive list of those involved and her posts are also worth a read. The Omnipotent Poobah offers a humorous glance into the continued corruption and, finally, Slate has a fine article on this particular Mr. Taylor and his “Mini-Mes” all in a row. Like the character Senator Paine in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” these folks have sold their soul; but unlike Paine, I rather doubt that by the end of the “movie” they will break down, admit their corruption and beg forgiveness.
PAINE Willet Dam is a fraud! It's a crime against the people who sent me here--and *I* committed it! PAINE walks mechanically toward the chair. PAINE (shouting) Every word that boy said is the truth! I'm not fit for office! I'm not fit for any place of honor or trust in this land! Expel me--!
But where is our Mr. Smith? As lovely as this character is, He is a fiction. In his place, like the bloggers mentioned above, the Mr. and Ms. Smiths are the numerous Americans, and others around the world, blogging, talking and yelling for truth and Justice. Like Mr. Smith, we have been de-awed. This de-awing process at first was painful. Like children learning that the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus is simply a lovely fiction, we cried and ached. We felt lost, defeated and powerless. The nice and beautiful words taught to us from grade school on have been revealed as nothing more than beautiful words . . . words of liberty and justice, freedom of speech and freedom of liberty have, in many ways, ceased to exist. Beautiful empty words. Illusions bought and paid for by corporations and power hungry individuals. Yet, these words need not be illusions. Ideals are rarely built upon, and perpetuated by, empty motivation. They exist and continue because of united passions and belief. Defeated at first by our collective and individual de-awing process, we emerge from our time of mourning and enter into constructive collective anger and, like Mr. Smith, filibuster from our own unique positions in space and time:
Jefferson No sir! If anybody here thinks I'm going back to those boys and say to 'em: "Forget it, fellas. Everything I've told you about the land you live in is lotta hooey. It isn't your country--it belongs to the James Taylors--!" No, sir, anybody that thinks that has got another thing coming!
Simply, my dear reader, this “Taylorism” must stop. We cannot allow the bulldozing attempts to exist further. You must get angry now because the cost of being submissive is too high. The corruption, the continued lies, the dismissal of our constitution and our rights as private citizens have been, and continue to be, up for grabs by the highest bidder.
JEFFERSON Just get up off the ground, that's all I ask. Get up there with that lady that is up on top of this Capitol dome--that lady that stands for liberty, take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something and you won't just see scenery--you'll see the whole parade of what man's carved out for himself after centuries of fighting and fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so's he can stand on his own two feet--free and decent, like he was created--no matter what his race, color or creed. That's what you'll see. There's no place out there for graft or greed or lies or compromise with human liberties. And if that's what the grown-ups have done to this world that was given to them we'd better get those boy's camps started fast and see what the kids can do and it is not too late because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you or me, or anything else. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here. You just have to see them.

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