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Classic film ‘Mr. Smith’ is still relevant

Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012

Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 17:09

When I left for home at the end of the spring semester I had a list of projects and goals to accomplish over the summer.  
One of those goals was to study for and then re-take the American Government CLEP Test.  
Long story short, I studied for about a month and passed the test, but that is not the main point of writing this column.  
While I was studying my old high school American Government Textbook, my appreciation for the efforts of our Founding Fathers was renewed.

These men took great pains to form a government that would provide a minimal threat to the liberty of its citizens.  
I also had an urge to watch one of my favorite movies again: “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”  
Directed by the legendary Frank Capra and starring James Stewart (one of my all-time favorite actors), “Mr. Smith” tells the story of an ordinary, yet highly patriotic young man who becomes a U.S.  Senator by honorary appointment.  
Before I go further, let me return again to our Founding Fathers.

 One of their biggest concerns was the consolidation of power, because they knew that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  
To prevent that, they built as many checks and balances into the federal government as they could.  
They didn’t want any one person wielding too much power.  
Unfortunately, the power is not often consolidated by lawmakers, but by outsiders who manipulate corrupt lawmakers.

 Such was the case in “Mr. Smith.”  
Shortly after taking his place in the Senate, Mr. Smith finds himself pitted against a political machine run by a wealthy man in his state through the state’s second and senior senator.  
Smith is quickly framed and nearly never heard from again, but in the end his sense of right triumphs and the senior senator confesses the whole thing.

What is really sad is that our government today is glaringly similar to our government as portrayed in “Mr. Smith.”  
While it may not be one man manipulating lawmakers, it is always some person or interest group with the most money.  
Sadder still is the fact that 99 percent of the time, the conclusion of “Mr. Smith” fails to play out.

If only we had enough leaders with half the character of Mr. Smith!  Our government might actually begin to right itself!  
It doesn’t seem like all is lost, though.  If Americans are electing leaders like Allan West, Paul Ryan, Michelle Bachmann, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker, then maybe they will see that we really need more leaders like them and elect even more principled leaders!
 In order for this to happen, Americans once again need to embrace the ideal of limited government envisioned by our Founding Fathers.

I would hasten to add they need to watch “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”  
Only when we are once again sending men of principle and values who will say no to corruption and dishonesty will we once again make America the greatest nation in the world.


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