Politics is a very diverse and at the same time, ancient topic that can date back to as early as the era of the Roman Empire. Members of the senate of Rome used to say that they are the voice of the people and that they would only impose laws and ordinances that will either help or be liked by the people. After those senators became elected, surely, some, or even most, of such promises were not fulfilled. Instead, oppressive laws and those were not really meant to help the people but rather to strengthen the politicians influence, rooting, and power, were imposed. This scenario brings us back to what was really happening in the world’s political sector and it is indeed surprising how we can still see countless of similarities of this scenario today.
Modern politics, regardless of how modern it is, can still be seen with old and traditional political practices; the political scenario discussed above can is only one of the best examples. The video clips showing Willie Stark campaigning to the people some time before the next election for state governor from two different versions of All the King’s Men indeed show a very basic example of modern campaigning, which is practically why it is very relevant to study today. One good way to characterize how today’s politicians behave is to try to compare them to their political ancestors or predecessors. After reviewing each, we can then ask ourselves whether we see some resemblance or association, be in in terms of their body language, the idea, aim, and motive of their speeches. Doing so would surely lead to a handful of discoveries.
In my case, I have discovered that modern politics possess a great resemblance to the politics during the early 20th century, or during the time when former Louisiana governor and Senator Huey Long delivered his speech. Firstly, I can see how he frequently addresses other people, mostly his political rivals, in his speeches. Secondly, I can also see how he tries to uplift himself with self-centered comments and advertisement of his achievements and sufferings in an effort to win the favor and compassion of the people, whenever he does not talk negatively of his political rivals. These are so far the two main things that I was able to notice on the entire film, that somehow show strong resemblance to common scenes and issues in modern politics. For me, these two personal findings alone would be more than enough for people to see how relevant it is to look for comparisons between modern politics and politics during the early 20th century.
But what is it in the movie that fuels the people to like Willie Stark is not his glory not his integrity as a politician, but rather the feeling of being oppressed, which is the main idea behind identity politics. Willie merely stimulated the people’s mind and somewhat made them think that the poor people of Louisiana, or whom he called the hicks, are being oppressed by the rich, and the people from the government, and that with his help, they can fight back the oppression and even out the playing field. Identity politics became an integral part of politics as it is usually used by politicians as one of their main driving force for people to vote them. The people on the other hand view identity politics see identity politics as a good counter-offensive to oppression related problems. So as long as there are people who are or at least feel that they are oppressed, there will be identity politics. They make themselves appear as if they are running and fighting their rivals for a cause and that they share the sympathy of the people. It is true that there are political candidates who really do, but at the same time, there are some who simply take advantage of the people’s sentiments, or identity politics to gain popularity. Identity politics is not necessarily equals to bad politics as how most people perceive it to be. It only turns into bad politics when politicians are not actually fighting for a cause, or oppression, and are simply using it to take advantage of the weaknesses of the people.
Jarach, L. "Essentialism and the Problem of Identity Politics." The Anarchist Library. http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/lawrence-jarach-essentialism-and-the-problem-of-identity-politics (2004).
Kimberle, W. "Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color." The New Press (1995).
Smith, S. "The Politics of Identity." International Socialist Review. http://www.isreview.org/issues/57/feat-identity.shtml (2008).