The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It


If you have not seen Frank Capra’s 1939 movie, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”  starring Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur and Claude Rains among many other notable actors of the period, you should do yourself a favor and watch the film.  The movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards.

It is the story of a naïve man who is appointed as Senator from a state that has an entrenched political machine run by one power broker.  He is selected for the job because the power-bosses think that he will be easy to manipulate.  What they don’t realize is that he is a man of principle and is not going to give up fighting for his beliefs.

A slanderous and false campaign against him is launched, witnesses perjure themselves in their calumny against him in their effort to discredit him.  They are sure that they have succeeded in their smear campaign.  But this simple man, inspired by the words that appear on the Lincoln Memorial, refuses to cave in.

Despite the fact that the entire Senate is set against him, he filibusters against his expulsion to the point where he collapses on the Senate floor.

This is the two minute clip where he falls exhausted:

This is Hollywood at its finest.  It makes a statement and it actually has a happy ending.  It is one of the movies that is a foundation of my home film library and a movie that I watch at least once a year.  In this election year I will probably watch it several times more than that.

Eventually we will figure out who the opponents will be in the November election.  Between the awarding of the Oscars and the election  we will all be subjected to an endless parade of mud-slinging commercials with the two combatants dumping dirt on his opponent.

Frankly, if only ten percent of the allegations that will be raised are true, one wonders how any person of conscience will be able to vote for either of the contenders for President of the United States.  And, unfortunately, probably a great deal more than ten percent of the charges will be true.

Wouldn’t it be an amazing thing if we had people running for the highest office in the land who were honest and inspiring?  Wouldn’t it be an incredible thing if we had people running for election to Congress who were women and men of conscience and character?  Wouldn’t it  be the most spectacular thing if Mr. Smith went to Washington?


  1. If you really want to know what mud slinging and dirt is all about you ought to tune in on what’s happening on the political scene in Australia at this moment. I’ve come to the conclusion that they are all tarred with the same brush these politicians. It’s all about power and very little about benefit to the people who elect them. Yes that was a classic movie.

  2. I wish I could disagree with you – but I can’t. And therein lies the problem. These issues seem to be universal because those who are drawn to positions of political authority are truly made from the same mold. And in large measure the electorate is oblivious to the need to find people of higher caliber.

  3. Nice movie, nice post. It’s too bad Jimmy Stewart isn’t around anymore.

    I’m like everyone else, though. I exercise my right to comment on the problems, but I haven’t the initiative (or the inclination) to join the fray as a participant. Until some of us right-thinking (no, I mean PROPER-thinking) folks take part, it will never change.

    I have known a few idealists who entered politics on the local level, but they weren’t able to overcome the power of the pwers-that-be. So sad.

  4. To be honest, I don’t have much inclination to get involved either. It’s a dirty business. But I do because the alternative is to watch things unfold as they will and to feel culpable for the outcome because I didn’t make the effort to try to make things better.

    • I agree. Do nothing = No change. But I also agree that it’s supremely disheartening, discouraging, and just plain disappointing to have to choose between a rattle snake & a shark for president.

      • I couldn’t agree with you more about our prospective choices.

        The reason I almost never vote for an incumbent for any office is that I want them to realize that they have not been elected to serve as Lord in a life-time position of aristocracy. Obviously most of our citizens don’t care.

        In Chicago we used to have a “judicial retention” vote. In order to retain their office a judge needed a mere 30% of those casting their ballots to vote to continue him in office. One judge was absolutely notorious for his bad behavior (mistresses, showing up in court hung over, bad decisions that were constantly being reversed). He was the first judge ever to lose on the retention ballot – and he only lost by two votes after a major campaign was launched against him.

  5. We SO need that option for our presidents!

  6. That will happen shortly after piglets pilot jumbo get liners and bunny rabbits commit to a life of celibacy.

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