I want to congratulate Antonio French on his win in the race for the 21st Ward Alderman, but there’s one thing I won’t stand for, and it’s a total misreading of a popular movie.
In his first post-election post thanking his supporters for helping him win, Antonio cites the classical political drama, “The Candidate.”
Last night I was reminded of the final scene of one of my favorite movies, “The Candidate”. After Robert Redford’s character realizes he has won his election after a long and arduous campaign, he asks his campaign advisor, “What do we do now?”
It’s a strange quote for any political figure to cite. It’s a cynical statement punctuating a film that’s incredibly cynical about politics.
The film, for those who haven’t seen it, is about an idealistic liberal lawyer who’s drafted by Democratic strategists desperate for a candidate to run for Senate against an unbeatable incumbent. The draw for the lawyer, played by Robert Redford coming into his early Seventies prime, is that it’s an unwinnable race, so the Democratic strategists running his campaign allow him to say what ever he wants, effectively giving him a platform to promote his liberal views. As the campaign wears on, however, the margin between the incumbent and the young liberal upstart narrows. And as victory increasingly comes within the young liberal’s grasp, his campaign turns more and more to the kind of narrow sloganeering that he initially vowed never to engage in. At the end of the movie, he’s reduced to a brand, a media construct uncertain of what he even wants to accomplish in office. He flees a victory rally and asks one of his campaign strategists, “What do we do now?” It’s not a question asked out of confidence – it’s more like out of sheer terror.
I’m sure by the rest of Antonio’s post that this is not what he means, but I really can’t let slide a total misapplication of one of the greatest movies about American politics.