After a hectic semester, winter break was truly glorious. It was nice to catch up with family and friends from back home and, most importantly, catch up on sleep. Compared to the crazy schedule of finals, I was almost in shock the first few days being unable to grasp the concept of free time, something that had seemed so strange just days before. I read books for fun, watched lots of trashy reality TV and read (rather than simply skimmed) the daily paper.
I also caught up on lots of movies that I had wanted to see. I watched approximately five movies in the theatre and rented several others. It seems like the selection of decent movies increases exponentially around the holidays, making finding a good one an easy task.
While each was truly enjoyable in its own right, I found unexpected insight in George Clooney’s “Ides of March.” As any good “poli-sci nerd,” I had eagerly anticipated this politically-based drama. For those of you who haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Although politics are at the forefront of the movie, by no means do you have to be a hardcore Republican or Democrat to enjoy it. The election coverage simply serves as the background, setting the stage for the characters to interact. It’s also a timely movie, showing a behind-the-scenes perspective on the inner workings of a presidential campaign.
What’s the unexpected striking aspect of the movie? Well, I’m glad you asked. George Clooney’s character is presidential hopeful Senator Mike Morris, and his campaign ideals are quite interesting. While his ideology may seem “stereotypical Democrat,” the campaign promise getting him the most support from voters is his pledge to get America’s head out of the sand, specifically the sand of oil-rich nations in the Middle East.
At first, I didn’t exactly understand this metaphor since it was only lightly touched on once, but at its very core the premise is a solid one. In each campaign speech Morris vows to break America’s addiction to antiquated fossil fuels and free the country from the clutches of foreign controlled resources while restoring the country to greatness. He speaks of how this can be easily accomplished by looking for opportunities at home. No, he doesn’t want to “drill baby drill”, but rather push for green energy solutions that our European counterparts have already invested in, hoping to capitalize on American industry and innovation to push the country to become a global leader in sustainable energy production.
Morris’ solution was never fully discussed in the movie, but it’s grounded in solid real-world facts. His depiction of our country’s current situation is truly sobering. Our entire economy, society, and way of life are dependent upon a resource that is finite, destroys the environment and is controlled and harvested by countries that tend to not be very nice. Thinking about it further, looking for a green solution at home to our energy situation isn’t partisan at all, which it is often painted as. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved. Government can invest in local entrepreneurs helping to get the ball rolling and trusting in the free market economy to produce the best, most viable solution for everyone while creating millions of jobs in the process. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, the facts are clear. We have the solutions here at home; they just haven’t gotten the support they need to flourish.
Considering the dire state of the American economy, I’m disappointed that no Republican candidate has brought this issue up. Maybe there’s hope down the road, but in the meantime, we will continue to be dependent upon technology that’s more than 100 years old to power our society, relying on a dirty, dangerous sauce that’s past its prime. Perhaps that should be our national New Year’s resolution: to finally rid ourselves of fossil fuels and find something that benefits everyone. It may sound too optimistic, but don’t lots of New Years Resolutions seem crazy? The great part becomes surpassing that goal in new and exciting ways. I have faith, and look forward to what the future holds.
A senior majoring in Political Science and Communication, James hails from Omaha, Nebraska. He focuses primarily on the unique things that define our everyday lives.