Archives For United Kingdom

Scotland is on the verge of independence. We will soon see on September 18th when the people of Scotland vote to determine their long-term fate and risk 300 years of union with the United Kingdom.

It is inspiring to see the democratic process at work and it brings about the reasons why people should get involved in politics to have a choice in the ways things are in government.

Early in my life I was highly involved in politics and in some ways like any good idealist. I have mellowed out a bit, partly because of how polarizing it has become.

But, I still hold onto hope and possibilities of how politics can change people for good.

I believe in due process and I believe in good, reasonable dialogue about key issues that affect any citizen of any country.

There are many great films about politics but there are a few special ones that are designed to inspire us. The theme of my favorite political movies is seeing how someone can stand firmly for what they believe in and act upon those convictions.

Here are the best inspirational political films:

1. All the President’s Men

All_the_president's_menI am sure every journalist is inspired by this movie. With power in Washington, corruption is inevitable and it is our responsibility as citizens (and journalists) to uncover the truth of what really is happening. Sometimes, this takes time and great risks of our careers and perhaps our lives but in due time, the truth does come out. I love seeing how Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Woodward and Berstein work together as a team to expose one of the greatest cover ups in our modern American history.

Deep Throat: Follow the money.

Bob Woodward: What do you mean? Where?

Deep Throat: Oh, I can’t tell you that.

Bob Woodward: But you could tell me that.

Deep Throat: No, I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know, and I’ll confirm. I’ll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that’s all. Just…follow the money.

2. Dave

MOV_65120890_bYes, I love Dave for many reasons and sure, because we share the same name but, Dave represents the everyman who could be thrust into politics. I don’t want to give away the movie but it is a fun treat to watch and be inspired by.

The most hopeful message from Dave happens as he glimpses the possibilities of political process.

“If you’ve ever seen the look on somebody’s face the day they finally get a job, I’ve had some experience with this, they look like they could fly. And it’s not about the paycheck, it’s about respect, it’s about looking in the mirror and knowing that you’ve done something valuable with your day. And if one person could start to feel this way, and then another person, and then another person, soon all these other problems may not seem so impossible. You don’t really know how much you can do until you, stand up and decide to try.”

3. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Smith_goesIn America and many other Democratic countries, there is the ability for anyone to be thrust into the spotlight. But, greatness happens when those in those positions stick to their values and serve with courage, like Jefferson Smith.

“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.”

Watch the famous filibuster scene where Jimmy Stewart as Mr. Smith delivers his hope for America. “Love thy neighbor” is his message.

4. Lincoln

Lincoln_2012_Teaser_PosterLincoln in the movie is full of wisdom as we have read about him. Academy Award winner who portrayed Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis said he felt he had never felt such profound love for a man he had never met like Lincoln. We see why in the ways Lincoln explain the thought process in how to end slavery in the United States. This movie is a masterpiece of political theatre.

“All we’ve done is show the world that democracy isn’t chaos. That there is a great, invisible strength in a people’s union. Say we’ve shown that a people can endure awful sacrifice and yet cohere. Mightn’t that save at least the idea of democracy to aspire to? Eventually to become worthy of?”

5. Amazing Grace

amazing_gracePolitics requires patience. William Wilberforce understood this and was committed as a Member of Parliament in 18th and 19th Century United KIngdom over a 30+ year period to end the slave trade and ultimately get rid of slavery. He saw that his dream could come true and this is his story. Long before the United States was able to deal with slavery and all its evil, the United Kingdom was thankfully able to see its end.

“Perhaps we should begin this journey with a first step.”

Here are some other great political films I recommend watching and you don’t have to be a political junky to appreciate them. I haven’t seen every political movie ever made so there may be some I’ve missed and I’d love to hear from you on ones you love.Some are inspirational, some are merely amusing.

What are your favorite political films and why? 

In a future post, I will list some of the best political tv shows. Stay tuned.

Not long ago I attended a conference in Washington, D.C.  I love that city.  It is easy to be cynical about D.C. and see it as a town only full of politicians with lobbyist leeches there to influence them.  I admit that I have been one of the cynics in the past.  I want to change and here is why.  What I like about DC is the same reason I enjoy parts of Nashville, New York, or Los Angeles.  You will undoubtedly meet someone from another part of the world.  Often I am called a pied piper so whenever I encounter someone from another culture, I am drawn to them to learn about their story.

I don’t recall who said these poignant lines but it goes like this:

Americans love to spend time and energy trying to understand who they are.  They unfortunately spend so little time trying to understand who the world is.

My understanding became much clearer after I visited Washington DC and experienced the following:

Experience #1: At the conference, the thousands who attended share a similar political ideology.  One thing that was evident was their passion for the “idea of America” and it surpassed a specific political ideology.  Anyone with an open mind can respect that.  I am a moderate conservative but their zeal resonated with me.  My hope is that when the world looks at America, they see freedom as I witnessed at the conference.

Experience #2: I met a Scottish girl named Shona who is married to an American friend of mine, Nathan and has lived in the United States for the past couple years.  I had lived and worked in Scotland in 2001 so we had plenty to discuss including politics, British and American culture, music, food, etc.  I asked her what the current pulse of the British people was about America. She seemed to agree that it was very much like the quote above.  I have been reading Tony Blair’s A Journey which provides an insightful political perspective on Anglo-American relations the past couple decades. Shona, Nathan, and I discussed in detail how we need to be more alert than ever before about protecting freedom.  As Brits and Americans, it is a special responsibiltiy we bear.  While we have not mastered it, we need to be a beacon of freedom and lead.

Experience #3: I met Sam Solomon from Ethiopia.  Sam is a cab driver whom we spent an intriguing 45 minute ride from central Washington DC all the way to Dulles International Airport.  He lives here legally, is married, and has four children.  Sam wouldn’t stop smiling when talking about America. Sam said he still has family in Ethiopia but doesn’t see a reason to go back unless it is more free and things change. We discussed that not far from Ethiopia an uprising is happening in the Middle East driven primarily by citizens wanting a democratic process.  America has given Sam the opportunity to start a business, raise a family safely, and live free.  We all need to listen to the Sam Solomons living in America.

My lessons from these experiences:

Freedom and the democratic process is unmatched.

We should never stop seeking freedom or if necessary, fight for it.