Mr. Smith Goes to Washington v. The Invisible Man

Until Republicans and conservatives develop new channels for information to flow to their uninformed fellow citizens the best way for the facts to get through is for our guys and gals who have been elected — to do their job. No matter the size of their office, they posses a bully pulpit that can be creatively and effectively used to get the liberal media to cover what they have to say.

As bad as most members of the biased press are, many still like a good story. The problem has been that Republican and conservative elected officials rarely even try to tell a story. Instead of getting aggressive and seeking to bring attention to reform efforts — most of what emanates from their offices are dry press releases that few even on the political right bother reading.

It’s never been as obvious as it is today that a large part of the media isn’t honest when it comes to covering the facts of the many government-made messes. Nevertheless, the press exists in several different formats. National cable news, network news, local TV news, radio news from the national to the local, newspapers of all sizes, and web-based sources that include the above and Internet-only avenues.

If our elected officials have a good story to tell and just one of those outlets pick it up, often the others can’t resist and will follow. At times, of course even the best efforts fall short or result in the misreporting on the facts. If however Republican and conservative elected officials were relentless in their attempts to get the Fourth Estate to report the truth, more successes would result.

This is only my first new post on the failures of guys and gals in elected office – there’s a lot more to say. I’ve already written on this topic quite a bit — many examples can be found in the archive of this website with examples on here: “On Leadership and Political Communication.”

Failure to work the press is just one example that needs to be addressed. It all stem from a faulty concept of what Republican and conservative elected officials think their role is. Some of my friends who have or still serve in office disagree with me on this. They see themselves as elected to do a job, govern responsibly, and see the seeking of publicity as unseemly.

Abraham Lincoln agreed with me. He didn’t see himself primarily as a legislative mechanic to be walled off in some corner of the capital tweaking the fine print of programs and policies. He knew this:

In the first place, let us see what influence [is being exerted] on public sentiment. In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.

Note this: “In the first place…”

Many Americans are familiar with the old classic movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Wikipedia describes it as “a 1939 American political comedy-drama,” the plot is simple: a naïve man is appointed to replace a deceased U.S. Senator and winds up taking on the corrupt old political machine. In the process his efforts become a national sensation.

I’d argue that a film from six years before “Mr. Smith” is more applicable to the Republicans we send to Washington today. Again, here’s Wikipedia:

The Invisible Man” is a 1933 science fiction film based on H. G. Wells’ science fiction novel The Invisible Man, published in 1897.

[…]

It is considered one of the great Universal Horror films of the 1930s, and spawned a number of sequels, plus many spinoffs using the idea of an “invisible man” that were largely unrelated to Wells’ original story.

[…]

In 2008 “The Invisible Man” was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

Okay, I’m not talking science fiction or horror — unless you look at today’s culture which is increasingly bizarre or the debt and corruption levels which are unquestionably horrid. My point stands — the invisibility of our elected Republicans and conservatives has got to stop.

Up next: small ball v. making an impact.

Originally published October 21, 2013.

Image credit: abbym.edublogs.org.