This weekend Tivo recorded a movie called The Candidate from 1972 for my viewing pleasure. The movie stars Robert Redford as a crusading legal assistance attorney who’s recruited by a political consultant (played by Peter Boyle) to run for Senator in California. The conceit is that Redford doesn’t want to compromise his principles in order to win, but events beyond his control wind up turning him into the politician he doesn’t want to be. The key here is that his father is the former governor of California and is a seasoned veteran of machine-style politics. The three term incumbent is a Republican who’s a political dead ringer for Bill O’Reilly, 30 years ahead of time.
Anyway, the interesting thing about the movie is that it hits all of the themes that still plague us thirty years down the road. Attack ads, poll driven campaigning, and the pervasiveness of sound bite politics are all held up as problems with the political system circa 1972. There’s even mention of problems with voting machines. For some reason I find the idea that things never change to be strangely comforting. If you do too, I highly recommend this film.