Monday, September 24, 2012

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - Guest Post by Matthew

Sometimes a film may be just as appropriate seventy years after its filming, as the day it was released to cinemas. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is one such film.
While not pertaining to the upcoming Presidential election, it is still quite applicable with today's political scene.
The protagonist, Jefforson Smith, is a small town patriot, men such as Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington are his role models. He is full of historic facts about his country, and a hero to the town boys. He believes in the country of his forefathers and a "goverment of the people, for the people and by the people". Jefferson Smith is elected to the office of Senator after the untimely death of the one of the two current senators.
On the polar opposite is a man named James Taylor. A man with enough money and power to own everything worth owning in Jeff's home state. A man who has enough influence and power to promise re-election to the state's govenor and senators, "If they play ball".

Both Sen. Joseph Harrison Paine and Gov. Hubert 'Happy' Hopper, along with Taylor are invloved in a land graft scheme. For the last few months they had been buying land under assumed names. They had created a bill to build a dam on a "Willet Creek", the same land they had been buying up. If the bill passed they would sell the land to the state, making a small fortune. When the other man involved in the scheme dies abruptly (The late senator), they are worried that the new senator might find out about their scheme, but the Govenor convinces both Paine and Taylor that Smith is just the man because of his popularity with the boys of the state and his limted knoweledge of "modern politics".

Smith hopes to start a boys camp, one that will get the boys off the streets and teach them about their country and nature.
"You see, boys forget what their country means by just reading,"the land of the free" in history books. Then they get to be men they forget even more. Liberty's too precious a thing to be buried in books... Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: I'm free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn't, I can, and my children will. Boys ought to grow up remembering that."
  In an effort to keep Smith busy, Paine suggests that he should turn his idea into a bill. An idea Smith takes to heart. Paine is shocked to learn that the land Smith wants to build his camp on, is the same land where they wanted to build the the dam.
When Smith first discovers the scheme, Taylor tries to bribe him. During the conversation, Taylor tells Smith that even Paine has been playing his game for over twenty years. A statement Smith is reluctant to believe, because he has the highest regards for Paine. Smith confronts Paine and is shocked to hear that Paine really has lost his ideals.

When Jeff refuses the bribe and tries to expose the scheme, he is framed by his friend and role model - Paine.
 Fortunately, Smith is able to gain the senate floor before his expulsion from office, something he keeps for nigh twenty-four hours.
During that time, he speaks of the value of freedom,
"Just get up off the ground, that's all I ask. Get up there with that lady that's 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. 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'd see. There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. And, uh, if that's what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we'd better get those boys' camps started fast and see what the kids can do. And it's 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 again!"
He speaks out against men like Taylor and Corporation such as the "Taylor Machine". People who would deny people's freedom, even going so far to kill to get a profit for themselves.
"Mr. President, I stand guilty as FRAMED! Because section 40 is graft! And I was ready to say so, I was ready to tell you that a certain man in my state, a Mr. James Taylor, wanted to put through this dam for his own profit. A man who controls a political machine! And controls everything else worth controlling in my state. Yes, and a man even powerful enough to control Congressmen - and I saw three of them in his room the day I went up to see him!
No, sir, I will not yield! And this same man, Mr. James Taylor, came down here and offered me a seat in this Senate for the next 20 years if I voted for a dam that he knew, and I knew, was a fraud. But if I dared to open my mouth against that dam, he promised to break me in two."
 "Now, you're not gonna have a country that can make these kind of rules work, if you haven't got men that have learned to tell human rights from a punch in the nose. It's a funny thing about men, you know. They all start life being boys. I wouldn't be a bit suprised if some of these Senators were boys once. And that's why it seemed like a pretty good idea for me to get boys out of crowded cities and stuffy basements for a couple of months out of the year. And build their bodies and minds for a man-sized job, because those boys are gonna be behind these desks some of these days. And it seemed like a pretty good idea, getting boys from all over the country, boys of all nationalities and ways of living. Getting them together. Let them find out what makes different people tick the way they do. Because I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a - a little lookin' out for the other fella, too...That's pretty important, all that. It's just the blood and bone and sinew of this democracy that some great men handed down to the human race, that's all. But of course, if you've got to build a dam where that boys camp ought to be, to get some graft to pay off some political army or something, well that's a different thing. Oh no! If you think I'm going back there and tell those boys in my state and say: 'Look. Now fellas. Forget about it. Forget all this stuff I've been tellin' you about this land you live in is a lot of hooey. This isn't your country. It belongs to a lot of James Taylors.' Oh no! Not me! And anybody here that thinks I'm gonna do that, they've got another thing comin'."
Even when he's been standing for twenty-three hours he still has the strength and the courage to face those who framed him.
"I guess this is just another lost cause, Mr. Paine. All you people don't know about the lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for. And he fought for them once, for the only reason that any man ever fights for them. Because of just one plain simple rule: 'Love thy neighbor.' And in this world today, full of hatred, a man who knows that one rule has a great trust. You know that rule, Mr. Paine. And I loved you for it, just as my father did. And you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any others. Yes, you even die for them. Like a man we both knew, Mr. Paine. You think I'm licked. You all think I'm licked. Well, I'm not licked. And I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause. Even if the room gets filled with lies like these, and the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place, somebody'll listen to me!" 
More and more it seems that "Taylors" have taken over our country. More and more it seems that men are not willing stand for their ideals.
We should all think like Smith. Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books... Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: I'm free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn't, I can, and my children will."
Men have died to give and protect our freedom, the least we can do is preserve it!
So why am I writing this? Because it is our freedom, nay, our responiibilty, to vote. It is our responisiblity to keep the Goverment "Of, By, and For" the people!
Freedom is too valuable to lose. I quote Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address,
“We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Am I saying corporations are bad? No! I only have problems with corporations that seek to deny American freedom! Men who see politics as a way to gain power, not to benifit their country. These things I dis-agree with.
I'll end with a quote from the Declaration of Independance.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."


  1. Well said Matt. AMAZING guotes!!! You did a great job writing it! sometimes i think we all forget the price that was payed for our freedom. what you said is a great reminder!
    great post. :)

  2. This is a fantastic post Matt! I love the parallels you draw between this classic movie, and our current political atmosphere.
    Its been a long time since I've watched this one...I need to re-watch it.


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