American politics is very different from the rest of the world. Compared to Norway, there are different norms of behaviour, different relations to media, and generally, it is a lot more based on your connections and leverage on other people. It seems like doing favours for each other off-record isn’t uncommon in American politics. After the election of President Donald Trump, questions have been raised around the reliability of the American Political system. Whether the media is too powerful or the perception of a good politician is based on the wrong factors.
From the film, The Ides of March, there is a quote that goes: “there’s only one thing I value in the world. That’s loyalty. Without it, you’re nothing”. I think this statement sets the tone for what type of environment there is in American politics, according to the movie at least. From what I have learned from the movie, you really won’t get far in politics if you’re not cynical. This is something we can see in the movie. When the main character loses his job due to him being too passive and honest, he goes to blackmail his former boss to get his position back. Therefore, this quote becomes as meaningful as it is. If you can in politics find someone loyal to you, and that is to be trusted, tackling issues with the media, working as a team and so on, becomes a breeze. Although loyalty is extremely valuable, it seems like you can only go so long before it breaks. However, if you really want to get to the top, you’re going to encounter a lot of disloyal people. People that if you don’t take advantage of, will take advantage of you. Methods such as black-mailing or straight up lying will therefore not be uncommon.
One of the main factors for this manipulative and dishonest environment in politics, is the press and how the media affects politics. Politicians’ main purpose is to get control of the voters. Traditionally, the voters aren’t too involved in the details of the different political opinions, but more interested in the personal traits of the front figures for the different political parties. The media is like a double-edged sword in politics. If you can keep a good relationship with the press, you will shine through as a respectful character in the papers that goes to the hands of interested Americans. The media also acts as a part of the political system that keeps politicians in check. When you want to know something about your favourite politician, who do you go to? The media. This is where the problem also lies. The media are privately owned businesses, corporate companies, that are also competing with each other to make the most money. To make the most money, you need the most attention, and to get that, you need the most dramatic, negative, unexpected news stories. In modern politics, we can see media has had a huge impact on the results of recent elections. Donald Trump is someone who was recognized as a joke when he announced he was running for president, but he used the power of media attention to ruin his opponents’ reputation. When Trump was up against Hillary Clinton for the presidency he blew cases such as Clintons E-mail scandal way out of proportion, the media capitalized on this, and made hundreds of headlines on this. Donald Trump also used media to gain himself furthermore publicity and time in the spotlight. The media being both overly powerful, and desperate to make politicians look bad, makes them quite a dangerous component in politics.
The title of the movie; The Ides of March,is also a relevant factor to the message of the movie. You have probably heard the saying: “Beware the Ides of March”. This saying originated from William Shakespeare’s play: Julius Caesar. In this play, Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Ides of March. The Ides is a certain time of each month. Julius Caesar was assassinated by one of his closest men. The assassination was motivated by power and selfish thoughts. In many ways, these are the same motivations modern Americans politicians have to betray each other.
To conclude, the movie has a clever way to dissect the American political system. It uses loyalty as a word to describe a minor issue, that describes a larger issue, in my opinion. The loyalty in this case, is the lack of trust between members of the same team, and lack of discipline to each other. This is in itself, is a problem, but, there is also something larger to consider in this situation. The fact that you have to rely on loyalty to begin with, sets the system up for failure. The system meant to chose those who lead the country should be reliant on winning the people votes by good arguments and politics, not public image. It becomes a competition between the different parts to have the leader with the cleanest sheet, and in the end, for the voters it ends up becoming a choice between bad and worse. This is due to the cynical behaviours the corrupted system sets up for. This is the perception on politics I get from the movie, and how I interpreted it.