For the candidates, it’s all in the storytelling
For the candidates, it’s all in the storytelling
It’s like Superman and Lex Luther.
Snow White and the Evil Queen. Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West. Indiana Jones and the Nazis. The best stories always seem to feature the heroic good guy or gal, who is locked in an epic, heroic struggle for good versus evil.
Many fictional writers say if you leave these key characters out of your story you will risk losing your audience, altogether. You see, every good story begins with an initial decision or event that creates conflict of some kind for the protagonist in the story, and this will ultimate test – and reveal – the protagonist character’s strengths and weaknesses. Now, the drama unfolds. For example, Dorothy decided to set out for the Land of Oz, down the yellow brick road and must fight her way past flying monkeys and a witch flying around on a broomstick hurling balls of fire. Superman decided sometimes it seems there is a “story” being told to us, as voters. This is, no doubt, why so many Americans don’t trust our government, and view politicians with great skepticism. In fact, over 80 percent of Americans don’t trust the government, and feel that public officials put their own interest ahead of the nation’s (in 1965, it was the exact opposite).
So, consider this election year, which is chock-full of candidate stories wherein the herocandidate professes to be the “anti-establishment” candidate (or protagonist), while their villain-like nemesis in the race is the “establishment” candidate (or the antagonist), instead. More dramatically, they might say they’re fighting a wrongdoer who can’t be seen (like the Wizard in Oz who is secretly pushing all of the buttons and pulling all of the strings behind a curtain, or Hillary’s “vast, right wing conspiracy”
Fifty years ago, yes, you could say there was “establishment” party politics, that included “the man” – you know, old money people, plus bankers, corporate executives, etc. who all worked behind the scenes, and probably had reserved tables in the proverbial, smoke-filled back room. But today?
Naw. And not only naw, but heck naw.
There’s no “establishment” like that today.
Yes, there are people who want to keep power in Washington and serve the special interests of a few, instead of all who voted for them, but this practice has been the case for centuries. There’s also the media, and people who want to influence the rest of us, but that too, has not changed in modern times.
In fact, with the Internet, the major media elites have less and less control over what we see, or who gets to be heard and their influence is more diluted today than any time in our nation’s history.
But still, there’s “anti-establishment” excitement on both sides of the aisle.
In fact, Bernie Sanders professes to be the “anti-establishment” candidate for the Democrats, even though he is, perhaps, the most “establishment” of them all (by his own definition).
He was elected mayor of Burlington
real “establishment” is we the people.
Our founding fathers established this country for us, and rooted it in rights endowed to us by our Creator. It’s right there in the first sentence of the U.S. Constitution.
And while we know every good story needs a protagonist and an antagonist to keep the audience’s attention, this obsession with being “antiestablishment” also appears to be more of a way to blame others for the dire straits that our nation is in, rather than a candid discussion about how a candidate will do it differently, when it’s their turn.
So, yes, we are the “establishment.”
You and me.
Others can use that term to refer to some nameless person or persons, or to conjure up stereotypes that play on our emotions, but that’s not any better than railing against “the rich” when someone wants to explain why the economy is doing poorly, and unemployment continues to rise.
And while running against “the establishment” makes for good drama, it doesn’t often make for good government because instead of telling voters how they will work for the policies we want
in Washington, many candidates are just spending too much of their time telling
to use his superhuman abilities for the from the Monica Lewinsky days). benefit of humanity, and must therefore But this year, for some reason, both in 1981, and has been in Congress since us a good story. fight for truth, justice and the American Democrat and Republican candidates 1988. He’s voted 98 percent of the time The problem is that we’ve all heard this
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the story next needs a hero – someone candidate. But why? Because it makes every major Democrat candidate, who
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Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman and attorney. AE He is also a Instructions Print at former 100% aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo
crisis, or bring balance to the universe. Or they want to be considered as the one “Independent.” And this is the “antiestablishment”
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Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in
SD The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by email at
good fiction writing, man” keeping so many of us down? No, you see, that’s all storytelling. The