A poll of today’s kindergarten class shows that when asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the bygone favorite “President of the United States” is out with the floppy disks.
Or that is what I imagine the results would show.
First Female President of the United States was my actual dream. Since the beginning of my braces age, I was on a patriotic high to change this country for the better. But somewhere between high school career aptitude tests, voting being deemed “uncool” and an exposure to presidents’ crucifixions, the dream lost all its appeal and my prez calling was shoved into a box and under the bed.
And then in the theatre for “Lincoln,” the anti-politics found themselves wishing for one of those powdered wigs, wishing for a gavel to give their “Yea” or “Nay” to an act that could change the course of history. There I was, revisiting that box with a dust-collecting dream. The audience’s round of applause once credits rolled were worthy of a resurrecting Lincoln in the theatre.
Critics could analyze the cinematography, brilliant acting, a script strewn together by fortune-cookie caliber quotes. Critics could simply say “Lincoln” accomplished what all movies set out to do.
Seven Golden Globe and twelve Oscar nods to boast, director Steven Spielberg did something different in the telling of a tale any American with a middle school history class under his belt could narrate.
David Brooks, a columnist for The New York Times, wrote a raving review of the movie, how “Lincoln” stood out to a society weary from the hum-drum of CNN versus Fox. His column “Why We Love Politics” reads, “The movie portrays the nobility of politics in exactly the right way.”
The President of the United States of the Mac generation has been reduced to a caricature, a National Inquirer cover, a go-to topic to weed out the enemy. This media-drenched culture has over-humanized our elected head with approval ratings and breaking news of personal life “dirt.” While doing so, this generation has diminished the desire for the next to be a figurehead for ethics like that evidenced in “Lincoln.”
Have the room amenities at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue been downgraded? Did the job become more taxing? (No pun intended.) Did America accomplish all noble causes that call for a commander-in-chief?
An argument could be made that a change in generational values or media exposure to be responsible, but what is certain is this: The White House is in need of a new coat of paint.
“Lincoln” showed a country that gave their president value and allowed him a voice, in contrast to today’s treatment of him as the USA’s whipping boy. “Lincoln” reminded the American culture no rally of fake fondness for the sake of “patriotism” is needed, but this country still has so much left to do and so many people to do it.
The redemption of politics will not be found if John Williams’ patriotic soundtrack is played over the speakers of the next Senate meeting. Nor will an increase of documenting President Obama’s best and brightest have America in a kum-ba-ya-an chant. “Lincoln” captured an American reverence that will not and could not be made about a president of this generation that would appease both red and blue crowds. And the fault is not the man whom we voted into the Oval Office; it is ours. Because being elected as President of the United States to serve our country used to be deemed honorable.
As Brooks concluded, “Politics doesn’t produce many Lincolns, but it does produce some impressive people, and sometimes, great results. “
Here’s to you, Spielberg, or Tommy Lee Jones, or Daniel Day-Lewis, or Abe for reviving dreams of old. “Lincoln” did not reroute my career path, I am simply saying that Gabrielle Powell doesn’t look too bad next to a checkbox.
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