Next Stop, Pennsylvania Avenue or Famous Last Words

Going all the way. Photo by: Twitchphoto

As we await the results of the Iowa caucuses with bated breath or reflect on the outcome, it’s a good time to look back on other political seasons.  Take 1972, for example.  On a national level, Senator George McGovern, running on an anti-war platform, won the Democratic nomination through good old-fashioned grassroots support, but resoundingly lost to incumbent Richard Nixon.

In The Candidate, a movie released that year, Robert Redford plays liberal-leaning lawyer Bill McKay who is persuaded by righteous-sounding political consultants to run for Senator from California.  Although his Republican opponent has held the office for years and apparently has a lock on the job, McKay believes his campaign is a way of putting forth new ideas.  Nothing wrong with that.

McKay doesn’t mind losing, but he doesn’t want to be wiped out in a landslide. Slowly but surely he gets caught up in the political machine. He cuts his blond locks and trims his sideburns. He probably would have lost the moustache, if he had one.

With his sunny good looks and charismatic persona McKay begins climbing the polls.  He has an exciting way with words that resonates with people, even if he doesn’t offer any solutions.  Consider this speech he makes right before the election:

“The unemployment for this state is 8%.  Think of it.

The biggest, the richest, the most powerful country cannot keep its full job force working.

It cannot tend all its sick people.

It cannot feed all its hungry people, or decently house its poor people.

It cannot educate everyone who needs an education.

I say there has got to be a better way.”

Did I mention, his campaign catchphrase is: “For a better way: Bill McKay.”   Apparently, the simpler the slogan, the more inspiring the candidate.

When McKay wins, he’s dazed and confused.  He turns to his campaign manager and asks, “What do we do now?”

Now that’s a very good question.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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