it’s not a mr. smith goes to washington world: a nation’s core values under attack, from within

Claude Rains and James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) .jpgI’ve been feeling frustrated and routinely aghast at the antics of the current leader of the United States, and his proxies who control the U.S. Senate. It was the president’s recent, unrelenting attacks on the deceased war hero, U.S. Senator John McCain, that prompted me to pull out the laptop and write.

I used to be an optimist, a Frank-Capra-Mr.-Smith-Goes-to-Washington kind of optimist. I believed, whole cloth, all those values of freedom, democracy, and statesmanship would endure, no matter who sat in the Oval Office.

I was wrong.

Here’s an excerpt of the piece I published on Medium:

Right now, I am grieving for the United States.

For thoughtful statesmanship and diplomacy, which are no longer important to our commander-in-chief.

For common decency in the public square, which is largely absent and is rapidly disappearing altogether, everywhere.

For the common values of kindness that parents teach their children, as our nation’s leaders have been role-modeling cruelty and avarice.

For the importance of acting in an ethical manner, even when it goes against one’s personal interests.

For the respect our leaders used to show for the virtues of freedom and democracy, especially as our president embraces dictators and tyrants, and considers laws beneath him.

Read the full post here.

Image credit: Wikipedia, promotional still from the 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington , published in National Board of Review Magazine. (Columbia Pictures – National Board of Review Magazine for November 1939, Volume XIV, Number 8, page 14, Dominio público.)

 

 

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are we in pottersville?

screenshot 2018-12-24 13.13.53Although It’s a Wonderful Life is powerfully associated with the Christmas season, to me, it’s about much more than wishes on Christmas Eve.

The classic film is about a little guy with a conscience and a strong sense of civic duty who is trying to succeed and help out fellow citizens in a world that is run by guys who lie and cheat and boast and hoard their ill-gotten-gains at the expense of others. It’s got an evergreen kind of message.

It’s in that vein that I wrote this piece of political satire on Medium, “The Chamber of Commerce Welcomes You to Pottersville.”

In the piece, the Pottersville of It’s a Wonderful Life, has emerged from the black-and-white film into America, circa now. Pottersville is America “made great again” by a Trump-Potter character. Scenes from the film, as well as quotes and policies from our current president, are melded together to create a vision of a modern day Pottersville hellscape, one I hope shall not come to pass.

I have no idea who our modern day George Bailey (or Baileys) will turn out to be, but I think we’re all waiting for the Baileys of the world to stand up and serve as bulwarks to fend off contemporary forms of Mr. Potter.

Here’s an excerpt:

Welcome to Pottersville, our newly-rejuvenated hamlet made great again by our super-smart leader, Mr. Potter!

Here, we banish things like locally-owned emporiums which turn no profits, so-called “friendly” watering holes where not nearly enough shots of booze are sold to boost our tax base, and mom-and-pop building-and-loan operations which recklessly approve mortgages for losers like cab drivers. Such fiscal impropriety there used to be in our old Bedford Falls businesses. Sad!

However, since the ascension of our illustrious stable genius leader, Mr. Potter, we are celebrating traditional values again, ones where we put Pottersvillians first, where we keep what we have piled up in our bank vaults and don’t, as the communist Bailey family used to say, “spread the wealth.” 

You can read the full piece here.