Hopefully as you read this, you have already performed your civic duty and made your way to your local polling station for that great exercise in democracy: voting.
It's easy to be cynical about politics, but today is the big day, and the fate of the country is in your hands. Although in the interests of transparency, I should probably tell you that I am a card-carrying Canadian, so I'm with you in spirit if not in citizenship. Our countries may be very different when it comes to our politics, but I know enough about the world to know that what happens tonight affects not only America, but the rest of the world as well, which is pretty heavy, right? Because as the great Sandy Bates once said, "I'm for total honest democracy. I also believe the American system can work." (you'll just have to imagine the 'rim shot')
But there isn't much to do other than wait and see, and since we've got a few hours to kill before the results are in, why not pop in a movie? You don't have to spend your evening staring at 'the big board'; you can get your political fix from the silver screen -- because at least when it comes to bad politicians in the movies, we know it's going to be over in two hours. If only we could say the same for the real world.
But back to the movies; after the jump are five political classics you should watch instead of tonight's election results ...
If you have ever complained to friends and family about the demise of principled politics, then the 1972 Robert Redford flick about an idealistic lawyer turned political front-runner is the movie for you. The film was written by Jeremy Larner, who was a speechwriter for Senator Eugene J. McCarthy during McCarthy's campaign for the 1968 Democratic Presidential nomination, and the story centers on a master political strategist (played by Peter Boyle) and his fair-haired candidate (Redford). The movie is sharp, funny and has one of the best endings in political movie history because it asks the question every politician faces after the race is won: "... What do we do now?"
It's kind of amusing that here we are, 48 years after the release of John Frankenheimer's classic tale of paranoia, and fear of a communist menace is alive and well. But even if you aren't cowering from the fear of "The Red Menace," this is still the great film for anyone who ever thought The Man was out to get them. Because as this movie shows us: Not only is he out to get you, but he's going to brainwash you too, and if you thought The Bush family was a scary group of politicos, wait till you meet The Shaws.
The kill or be killed world of politics doesn't just reside in D.C., and in Alexander Payne's adaptation of Tom Perrotta's novel we meet an overachiever of monstrous proportions (played to perfection by Reese Witherspoon) who stops at nothing to triumph in a student body election.
Our notion of the sanctity of the Oval Office was never the same after Nixon and the gang were through with it. Watergate was a turning point in American history, when the nation had to be convinced that their Commander in Chief was 'not a crook' -- and we all know how that turned out. In the 1976 film adaptation of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's non-fiction best seller about the scandal, the film stands out as one of the first American movies to make the White House power players (including the president himself) into "the bad guy," and took one of the most complicated political conspiracies in history and laid it all out through the efforts of our plucky real life journalist heroes.
Few presidents have known how to work the charm like dear old Mr. Clinton, and in the 1998 adaptation of the 'Anonymous' book (actually written by New York Times reporter Joe Klein) about the 1992 campaign, John Travolta channels that charm to pull off one of the greatest performances of his career. Scandal plagued the Clintons before and after Bill was elected and this film works in every rumor and innuendo with a pretty remarkable degree of objectivity. Plus, the movie managed to do something that Ms. Clinton herself has never able to do in the real world: Garner a little bit of sympathy for the lady.