Where’s Mr. Smith when you need him?

Where's Mr. Smith when you need him?

We need more Jefferson Smiths today

This time of year, many people watch the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life. I am as much of a fan of that movie as anyone but my go-to Frank Capra movie has to be Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. If you haven’t seen the film, you should watch it as soon as possible, it is about a naive youth leader who is appointed to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat. Jefferson Smith is selected because his naivete would make him easy to manipulate.

Things don’t go as planned for the corrupt politicians who want Smith to just go along with whatever they say and he takes to the Senate floor to object.

And 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.

Jefferson Smith

We need people like that in government. People who still believe that politics is the “art of the possible.” We need fewer people who think the only goal that matters is staying in office, getting more money and power, and think party politics are more important than doing the people’s business.

When I was a little kid, my goal was to bridge the gap that exists between people and the government. Yes, I was a strange child. While I felt that way years before I ever heard of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, that was my goal. I started volunteering on campaigns on Long Island when I was about eight years old. I went door to door, passing out literature for local Democrats. In a two to one (or three to one) Republican area, this took some gumption. In fact, one thing that has never wavered for me is my commitment to progressive causes and candidates.

It would be easy to be depressed about the state of things in our government and in politics. On the anniversary of the attempted coup, it is important to point out that storming the capitol and beating up the police there is not the way to change things. I have no idea what to do to get us all reading from the same book, but have we ever really all agreed on anything?

Half of the nation thought owning people was a good idea for centuries. In 2020, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) called slavery a “necessary evil.” That just shows how two people can look at the same thing and think very different things.

It is lazy to think that the only way to change things and make them better is through violence. The hard work is less exciting. We all need to pay attention to the government and to act when we need to. By act, I mean, protest, write letters, write letters to the editor, write op-eds, plan events that raise awareness. The most important thing we can all do is vote.

And white privilege isn’t a thing?

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Hell-Texas) got himself into trouble this week when he called the rioters from 1/6/2021 “terrorists.” Tucker Carlson was having none of that and Cruz had to go on his show and defend his comments? Huh?

Add the fact that Senator Ron Johnson (R-Stupidville-WI) had some interesting things to say about the day.

“I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned. Now, had the tables been turned — now, Joe, this will get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.” 

Senator Ron Johnson on The Joe Pags Show

What kills me about this is when people of color protest by taking a knee or taking to the streets, I often hear people — most often on the right — say things like, “They aren’t doing this the right way.” I have friends who say things like that. During the height of the #BlackLivesMatter protests in 2020, a friend posted (she was responding to a post that made it look like Antifa protesters perpetrated acts of vandalism), “We’ll treat you like humans when you act like humans.” Who gets to decide what is and is not “human behavior?”

When the protesters surrounded the White House, then-President Trump wanted to use the military to break up the crowds. He did use it to move people out of Lafayette Park (across from the White House so he could do a photo op in front of a church. Contrast that with what happened on 1/6/2021 and if you aren’t seeing the hypocrisy and racism, you aren’t paying attention.

The take-home message, as it always seems to be, if you are white, you can get away with just about anything.

Want to carry a weapon across state lines when you are a minor? If you are white (Kyle Rittenhouse), feel free! Want to carry a gun without a state permit and then drive with an air freshener hanging from your mirror (Daunte Wright)? We will kill you!

It’s a good thing that white privilege is not real.

We live in a scary world. I wrote this a few years ago about the things I think we should be scared of this.

Leave a Reply