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Movie Review: The CandidateDaniel Johnson Salem-News.com
A defining movie for Americans?
(CALGARY, Alberta) - Americans, on the whole, just don’t get it. The more I watch America in decline, the more Americans I see believing either, it is not declining or, it is in some decline, but the American people, through the prescience of the Founding Fathers (sort of like waiting for Jesus) will magically make things the way they used to be and should be.
The Candidate stars Robert Redford as an activist lawyer in California. He is approached by Marvin, a political operative played by Peter Boyle. Boyle wants Redford to run as the Democratic candidate against the incumbent Republican. The deal is that Redford can run a completely free campaign and say whatever he wants.
And, says Boyle, “here’s your guarantee.” He writes two words on a matchbook “You Lose” and gives it to Redford. The point is that Redford has no chance of winning, so he doesn’t have to be “political” and can instead run a campaign to stir things up without pandering.
To jump to the end and spoil the suspense, Redford wins and at the end he gets Boyle alone in a room for thirty seconds and asks: “What do we do now?”
The movie is reasonably done, but would really only be of appeal to Redford fans and political junkies. I watched in the last guise and it wasn’t really an “eye opener”, but it confirmed today’s reality.
Redford talked about all the left-wing hot-button issues as opposed to Jarman Crocker, the Republican who’d held the seat for 18-years on a platform of God, Guns and Greed. Redford, instead, talked about a country that couldn’t feed everyone, couldn’t house everyone and left millions without health care—inadequate or none at all. He said that race was a divisive issue that had never been meaningfully addressed and resolved.
He went to a beach and, talking to the young people hanging around, pointed to a parking lot, saying, “there used to be beach there.” He went on to say that when he was their age they could swim in the ocean before it was turned into a “chemistry set”.
Now, for my punch line. The movie came out in 1972. Basically forty years ago. The lesson is simple. For those of us who remember 1972, America was struggling with a host of problems—Vietnam, Nixon, inflation, unemployment, pollution…
In forty years the American quandary has not only not improved, it’s become worse. Many Americans, and readers of S-N recognize this and despair at their impotence against a corrupt political machine—on every level. But it’s the tens of millions of others who deny this reality that keep the poisonous status quo in place. The open question to them is in two parts: When do you expect Jesus to come down from the cross and save a troubled nation? and, Where is the evidence that this might actually happen?
Daniel Johnson was born near the midpoint of the twentieth century in Calgary, Alberta. In his teens he knew he was going to be a writer, which is why he was one of only a handful of boys in his high school typing class — a skill he knew was going to be necessary. He defines himself as a social reformer, not a left winger, the latter being an ideological label which, he says, is why he is not an ideologue. From 1975 to 1981 he was reporter, photographer, then editor of the weekly Airdrie Echo. For more than ten years after that he worked with Peter C. Newman, Canada’s top business writer (notably on a series of books, The Canadian Establishment). Through this period Daniel also did some national radio and TV broadcasting. He gave up journalism in the early 1980s because he had no interest in being a hack writer for the mainstream media and became a software developer and programmer. He retired from computers last year and is now back to doing what he loves — writing and trying to make the world a better place
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