Sunday, March 02, 2014

Santorum is still with us: "Electile Dysfunction: Inside the Business of American Campaigns" makes you wonder, why run for office?

In 2008. Robert Greenwald’s “Cinema Libre” distributed a subtle political documentary, “Electile Dysfunction: Inside the Business of American Campaigns,” directed by Joe Barber and Mary Patel, focusing on the 2006 US Senate race between Republican Rick Santorum and Democrat Bob Casey, for a Pennsylvania seat.
  
Santorum is well known for his social conservatism, which he elucidated in his 2005 book “It Takes a Family” (Book reviews blog March 5, 2012 and even March 28, 2006).   He builds up his position with nice-sounding terms like “social capital”.  I think his underlying idea is a bit like Rock Warren’s “It isn’t about you” from “The Purpose-Driven Life”, and it puts a lot of pressure on those who are “different” to put the “common good” of others (particular family) above one’s own personal sensibilities.  That comports with the old-fashioned Vatican idea about openness to complementarity and procreation.
  
The film explains how politicians assume that “average Joe” real people don’t have the time or inclination to ponder all the policy issues objectively on their own, and depend on elected politicians to do this for them, and to serve their partisan and adversarial interests.  They invent paradoxical terms like “marriage tax” or “partial birth abortion” to stir up emotions of voters.  Speech writers are good at this.  Affecting things is all about getting elected, and that’s about popularity with voters, and that in turn is about making the political opponent unpopular with voters (mudslinging), and that in turn requires getting rich people to give you campaign money to get you elected.
  
The film often refers to gay rights and to the convenience of using gay marriage as a political football for conservative politicians to punt on (or maybe invite safeties, like in the 2014 Super Bowl).  At one point, there is a satirical song comparing sodomy to incest and beastiality, as if to say that this is how social conservatives sell anti-gay positions to bait voters.  (Listen to the president of Uganda now on this.)  It’s all word salad – platitudes that fall apart when analyzed carefully.  It’s definitely anti-intellectual, and even anti-individualist. 

The gay press was relieved in 2012 when Mitt Romney clearly took the lead over Santorum in the GOP primary season.  Romney was seen as not particularly hostile to LGBT people despite his Mormon background.  
   
The film includes a country music song video “The American”, which starts with “Are you red or blue, America is all of you.”  
  
It also offers, in the DVD special features, sound bites from Arlen Specter, Bill Devlin, Dan Savage, Helen Thomas, Joe Trippi, Mark Moskovitz, and Schools D.  Bill Devlin goes on an anti-gay rant, saying that sodomy laws are justified by the idea that sodomy “is not in the best interest of the participants” and that is what he have law for.  What happened to privacy and individual rights?  He even criticized corporations for offering equal benefits to employees in same-sex relationships.   

This film should not be confused with the 30-minute short in 2004 by David Burrows, with the same name.
  

Oscars are starting on ABC as I post this, comments on them to follow soon.  

No comments: