There’s a fantastic, underrated movie that came out in 1995 called “The American President.”
Starring Michael Douglas, Michael J Fox, Martin Sheen and Annette Benning among others, it follows the fictional life of widower/president Andrew Shepard (Douglas) who is raising a young daughter on his own, falling in love with a lobbyist (Benning), and fending off attacks by presidential hopeful Bob Rumson (Richard Dreyfus).
If you haven’t seen this movie, you should. It’s a great watch, with several memorable quotes. But the most powerful scene comes with about 25 minutes left in the movie. Throughout, Shepard refuses to address the verbal attacks that Rumson continues to throw his way, even though everyone thinks he should. He finally does in a spontaneous speech to the nation.
You should watch the speech here, but let me throw out some of the more memorable quotes to prove a fascinating point.
QUOTE #1: “We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.”
QUOTE #2: “You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest.”
I could go on, but my main point is this….is Donald Trump the real life version of Bob Rumson?
Regarding the first quote: this is exactly how Trump won the election: placing blame. Blaming the Obama Administration for this, blaming Hillary for this. Blaming everyone but himself. Even now, whenever tragedy strikes not only America, but anywhere in the world, Trump is quick to point out whose to blame. Also, Trump feasts on people’s fear, which is why he’s able to push through policies on building a ridiculously expensive wall that will cripple the economy, as well as his controversial policies in regards to security and deportation.
Quote 2 relates directly to Trump’s agenda against the NFL and athletes kneeling during the anthem. You could just as easily re-quote this to say “If America is a Land of the Free, then your symbol can’t just be a flag, but also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right by kneeling during the anthem in protest.”
When re-watching this speech last week, I realized something: we elected Bob Rumson.
Yes, I realize it’s a fictional movie, but it raises some excellent points still relevant 23 years after it’s theatrical release.
President Trump won the election by placing blame and installing fear. But as Andrew Shepard would say, we have serious problems and we need serious people to solve them.
We found our Bob Rumson. Now we just need to find our Andrew Shepard.