One of my favorite movies from the 1970s is “Network,” a hard-biting and somewhat humorous 1976 satire written by Paddy Chayefsky, who also penned “Hospital,” another great movie of that era.
While I think the best thing about “Network: is a speech by Ned Beatty about how Big Business controls the world, the movie is best remembered for a phrase uttered by Peter Finch who portrayed deranged TV anchor Howard Beale. After being told that he was being replaced by a younger anchor, Finch stands up in the midst of his last broadcast and utters a rather long monologue that ends with his yelling: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
The movie then shows angy people throughout the country raising their windows and proclaiming to the world that “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
I was reminded of this 37-year-old movie Tuesday morning, when I learned our elected leaders in Congress had chosen to play politics instead of govern and allowed the federal government to “shut down” for lack of money. Just like the fictional Howard Beale, I felt like raising my bedroom window and shouting, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
But, of course, I didn’t. In fact, I try to avoid such crude language when I speak, but I don’t always succeed, especially when I am angry . And right now I am more angry at our elected leaders in Washington than I have been at any time in my more than 65 years on this planet.
I am still naive enough to believe that once the election is over and the votes are counted, the main job of those elected is to govern, not play politics. But in today’s highly partisan climate in Washington, the politicking never ends. If it did, the U.S. Senate would not have gone more than four years without approving a budget, which I consider the most basic task of Congress. If it was not for the partisan politics getting in the way, we may have actually approved a meaningful immigration reform bill instead of doing nothing but bicker while the immigration problem gets worse. We may have actually agreed to some meaningful tax reform.
If it was not for the political games being played in Washington, our elected leaders who represent those who see the weaknesses of Obamacare may actually be trying to amend the law instead of repeal it. The 40-some times the House has voted to repeal that law is just showboating, because House members know the Senate will not agree to it. However, we think there are aspects of the law that the Senate would agree to change.
I am constantly asked if I am a Democrat or a Republican. I used to think I knew, but I’m not so sure anymore. I am somewhere to the left of the tea party Republicans and to the right of the liberal Obama Democrats. There are both Republican and Democrat members of Congress I like, but they are becoming fewer in number.
I am greatly concerned about out-of-control federal spending, but believe it or not, that did not start with Barack Obama, although he certainly has made it worse. There were record deficits in seven of the eight years George W. Bush was president.
I admit that part of my concern over the current “shutdown” is selfish. I fear the shutdown will wreck the economy and send the stock market tumbling like it did in 2008. I plan to retire in 2014, but if my 401(k) crashes like it did five years ago I may never be able to retire. Fortunately, the stock market on the first day of the shutdown did not panic and Dow Jones averages did not go into a nosedive. I hope that continues until this nonsense in Washington ends.
The ranting I have done in this column has calmed me a bit, but I still feel like going to the nearest open window and yelling: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
But of course I’m going to take it. What else can I do?
JOHN CANNON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (606) 326-2649.