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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mr Smith Goes to Washington - Jimmy Stewart

The movie, Mr. Smith goes to Washington (1939) is about Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart), a noble but naive man who is appointed to finish out the remaining term of a recently vacated U.S. Senate seat. His encounters with all manner of corruption only serves to strengthen his resolve in the face of stagnant, status-quo Washington bureaucrats who serve their personal agendas at the expense of their constituencies who put them into office. Rather than give in, Smith stages a one-man filibuster that lasts, 'twenty-three hours and sixteen minutes.' He finally collapses but not before he confronts Senator Payne, with his challenge to remember The Golden Rule.

In the end, Mr. Smith refuses to lose hope. He refuses to part with his ideals and principles in the face of frustration.

Yes, this movie is sappy and yes, Washington doesn't work that way but there is a certain romance in watching heroic battles as the one put forth by Senator Smith in the defense of social justice and simple Human decency.

Sixty-nine years have passed since Frank Capra directed this movie. It remains poignant because Washington still has its share of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. Nowadays, it appears that almost daily, the majority party faces yet another sex scandal or charge for peddling influence to the highest bidder as did Congressman Robert Ney of (R) Ohio or California's Congressman (R) Randall 'Duke' Cunningham were.

Something has to change when a respected Senator [Larry Craig (R) Idaho] is caught in a bathroom sex sting or when another [Congressman Mark Foley (R) Florida] is forced to resign after being caught soliciting sex from under-age Congressional Page boys - all this as they fought to implement legislation against sex-offenders and spoke so vehemently about the demise of family values in America as foundations for their platforms to get elected into office. It turns out the Republican Party is rife with perverts, philanderers and people on the take. There are quite a few more, like Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich who go on the attack as if their ability to use the distributed responsibility argument could stand up to the very measure they invoke as God-fearing Christians. The point is, they are corrupt - period.

No-bid contracts are the order of the day for Republican associates and cronies who break the law are ignored by the White House. Worse yet, even when they are caught red-handed breaking the law, they are rewarded for such transgressions by presidential pardon.

Maybe now is the Democratic Party's opportunity to heed the call of the people by submitting to the only special interest that matters in America, the little man, the poor, the weak and the back-bone of this country, the working class.

If we cannot take care of our own family, how can we begin to even consider being a beacon for the rest of the world?

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