After watching the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, many of the government activities that we learned so far this year were represented in the film. This film was about how a senator died and the events leading to the appointing of the new senator. Also the movie displayed how a man would go to any length to pass a bill he believe in and how he held the longest filibuster in history in order to pass that bill. One of the government activities that we learned this year was how difficult the process is of appointing a new senator if one were to die.
In the beginning of the film a group of reporters are scrambling about and shouting in telephones that the current senator, Samuel Foley, has died. The senior senator heard this news and immediately calls the governor and addresses to him the situation at hand. The governor then calls Mr. Taylor and tells him the news. Taylor tells the governor that he must appoint a new senator to fill in the open seat and to complete Foley’s term. The governor turns down many of the appointees until he domes up with the idea of appointing Mr.
Smith, who is the leader of the boy rangers, for senator. He convinces Taylor that he will be perfect for the job because Smith has no clue about politics and wont cause any trouble or get in the way of Taylor’s plans and he agrees. Smith is now the new senator, taking over Foley’s term. Although in the movies this event happens in a short time, but in reality it takes a bit longer to appoint someone because the governor has to find the right person that will represent the state very well. As mentioned before in the last paragraph, Taylor had some plans up his sleeve.
He approved Smith because he knew that he wouldn’t cause any trouble within the political world. This is because Taylor was trying to get his proposed pork barrel bill passed in order to finance an unneeded at dam at Willet Creek. A pork barrel bill is a list of federal projects, grants and contracts available to cities, businesses, colleges and institutions available in the congressional districts. The problem with this bill is that it’s being used for no good. Taylor wants his bill to pass in order to make money, illegally, off of it, basically stealing from the state.
Smith, without even realizing it, tries to expose Taylor’s plan, but Taylor won’t let that happen. One other type of government activities learned this year is the process of making and writing a bill. Making and writing a bill is a long process and it has to be voted on in order to keep it alive. The majority of the Senate has to vote to keep it in order to pass it to the House. Then if the bill gets the majority vote there, then it can be passed on to the president, which he can pass it or veto it. If it is vetoed, the bill is sent back and it must be voted on again in order to keep it alive.
If it gets the majority of the votes it is passed without going to the president again. As addressed before Mr. Smith knows nothing about politics and what it takes to pass bills or even voting for them. When he tries to learn about the politics the other senators tell him to basically not worry about it and that it’s too difficult to understand, but that doesn’t stop Smith. He comes up with the idea about passing a bill himself. This bill, he decided, is to help starts a camp for underprivileged boys where they can get out of crowded cities and go into nature, but there’s a problem with that.
That Pork Barrel Bill that Taylor is trying to pass, well it’s about the same place where Smith is trying to start a camp, Willet Creek. This puts Taylor on edge and he goes and tries to blame Smith of taking the money for himself, making him look bad to the public, but Smith knows what has to be done and he brings it to the floor of the Senate in order to tell everyone what he plans to do. Another government activity that we have discussed this year was the function of a filibuster.
A filibuster is a unique strategy that the senate uses in order to take a piece of legislation and literally talk it to death with an unlimited amount of time. During this filibuster the senator can speak as long as he wants, but he must be talking the entire time and not allowing others to speak, which is called holding or yielding the floor. Continuing on from the previous paragraph, Smith takes his bill proposal to the Senate floor, trying to clear his name and to pass the bill that he believes will do well for those boys and will make use of the land.
Throughout this filibuster, Smith talks and talks about the whole situation and how Taylor is up to no good, but since Taylor destroyed his reputation; no one is listening to him. Smith holds the floor for almost two days, reading out of the bible and out of the constitution, until someone believes him. Finally, telegrams come from the state asking someone to kick Mr. Smith out of the senate, but before that happen, Smith collapses, causing Taylor to confess everything. Smith keeps his job and Taylor can’t control the politicians anymore.
After this filibuster, the senate put some restrictions on the regulations of a filibuster, if the senate doesn’t want it to continue, there must be sixty senators present and there has to be a vote to halt a filibuster. Those are only some of the making government activities that we have learned this year. There were many more encounters in the movies, but these were the most memorable and most important ones. I think that after watching the movie, I have a better understand of the terms and how they are used in real life, even though we watched them happen in a movie.