Robert Redford was behind the entertaining political movie "The Candidate" (1972), which goes a long way towards explaining how the game works. This film is really not a liberal one, which is what makes it worthwhile even after 30 years. It is supposed to be based on Edmund "Jerry" Brown, former California Governor Pat Brown's son. Jerry Brown at the time was a youthful Secretary of State who would go one to two terms as Governor. He was a new kind of pol, attractive, a bit of swinger who dated rock star Linda Rohnstadt, and representative of the Golden State image of the 1970s. They called him "Governor Moonbeam".
Redford plays the son of the former Governor of California, played by Melvyn Douglas. The old man is old school all the way, having schmoozed his way up the slippery slope through implied corrupt deals with labor unions and other Democrat special interests. Redford is a young man who played football at Stanford and is now a social issues lawyer of the pro bono variety, helping Mexicans in Central California. Peter Boyle knew him at Stanford and is now a Democrat political consultant who recruits Redford to run for Senator against Crocker Jarman, an entrenched conservative Orange County Republican. Jarman could be Reagan, but he is as much a composite of the traditional Republican: Strong on defense, down on affirmative action and welfare, a real "up by the bootstraps" guy who emerged from the Depression and World War II to make up our "greatest generation."
The film does an about-face on perceptions that, in many cases, turn out to be true. Redford is the rich kid with connections. Jarman beat the Depression like the rest of the U.S., without a social worker.
"How did we do it?" he mocks.
Redford's film wife is played by Karen Carlson, pure eye candy (but what happened to her career I cannot say?). She has ambitions of her own, and pushes him to do it because he has the "power," an undefined sexual charisma of the JFK variety. Redford plays a caricature of himself, handsome but considered an empty suit. His deal is he can say any outrageous thing because he cannot win anyway, and in so doing shows he has the brains. When he creeps up in the polls, the idealism gives way to standard politicking, complete with deals with his old man's crooked labor buddies. He wins, demonstrating the power of looks and TV advertising. In the end he expresses that he is not prepared for the task.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism