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Editorial: “SHEEP?”

“This whole country's just like my flock of sheep!”

Lonesome Rhodes (from A Face In The Crowd)

Before Andy Griffith was Andy Taylor, he was Lonesome Rhodes in director Elia Kazan's A Face In The Crowd. It should be required viewing. If you decide to give it a look, you might be shocked to learn the down-home jargon is the only trait Lonesome Rhodes shares with Andy Taylor. Lonesome Rhodes is a dark character in a very dark film and Andy Griffith is brilliant in it.

I won't be a spoiler but suffice to say we get a look behind media and politics more relevant today than ever. In fact, a contemporary political or media insider might even view A Face In The Crowd as outdated and naive. If you've seen the film, that's chilling.

I gave the film another viewing recently and was reminded how unpleasant, but necessary, it is to see how sausage is made. More to the point, I thought about all of those citizens who, evidently, move merrily through life with no comprehension such a process even exists.

To speak (or write) plainly, I think voting is a good thing, but best done with fingers firmly clinching nose. I'm not talking about elections for sheriff or city council or town treasurer (for the most part anyway). As a rule of thumb, if the office being sought is occupied by a person with national recognition, well, the sausage grinder is likely in overdrive churning out the meat.

It's a story as old as time and, folks, there's no changing it. That said, it doesn't have to be encouraged either.

I am not a young person. I've seen a few elections and do not consider myself to be especially naive (hey, I've watched movies with subtitles!), but I still shake my head in amazement when I see full grown Americans enthusiastically attending political rallies. From my perspective they either don't know how the sausage is made or they're part of the process. Usually, the former. To feel a human being who rose up through the ranks of politics, media or showbiz (assuming they're not the same thing) cares about me on a personal level...well, come on. That goes for the people who help them get there as well.

Are there exceptions? Probably (less so in modern times, I'd argue), but they prove the rule. People win the Powerball, too. But you won't.

Anyone with enough pull, money, influence or fame (or all of the above) to run for, say, governor has made a lot of sausage in their time and they got a lot of help making it. Your particular predicaments were not part of the calculation on the climb up for any of them.

Lonesome Rhodes (spoiler alert) eventually gets his comeuppance in A Face In The Crowd. But, though insightful and artful, it's still just a movie. The real Lonesome Rhodes' of the world usually stay at, or very near, the top. Know who keeps them there? Plumbers, accountants, pipe fitters, schoolteachers, retail workers and the like.

That's probably just the way it is and we have to accept it, but we don't have to be like it.


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