Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Caddyshack Politics

The gopher is my favorite.
He represents all those pesky
variables neither party can
For the past thirty years or so, my go-to source for understanding politics has been the George Orwell classic Animal Farm. Whenever I found myself befuddled by all the craziness and crazies involved in that particular realm, I’d think back on some character or incident in that book, and  my questions would be answered. But I have to say, even Animal Farm can’t make much sense of the insanity found in this current presidential election. So I searched for a different frame of reference and found it in another classic—the 1980 movie Caddyshack.

Wait. Before you start rolling your eyes, think about it. The dominant setting of this movie is the lush, rolling golf course of Bushwood Country Club. (Ironic that it’s named Bushwood?) Running this seemingly idyllic world is a regime which establishes and enforces the rules— the special ones for those in charge and the ones for everyone else. Most strictly enforced are the rules that bar newcomers who don’t fit the long-established expectations of appearance and decorum. Life at Bushwood is about nothing if not appearances.
At this point, I have some explaining to do. Lest you think I’m comparing the Bushwood world to either the Democrat or Republican party, you are wrong. I’m comparing it to both parties. Regardless of their names, both parties have been around a long time and both have their rules and conventions—weird and convoluted though they be. And in both parties, there are special rules for special people. Both parties have their unprincipled, high muckety-mucks. And both parties work overtime doing damage-control to their tarnished appearances.
So back to Bushwood, where trouble is brewing. Into this well-guarded world, comes an outsider. Crude and bumptious, he respects neither the rules nor the anointed leaders. But he does bring a certain element of fun and the appeal of shaking things up, so he attracts fans. The establishment wrings their collective hands, battle lines are drawn, and members and employees take sides. Chaos ensues.
And now you’re thinking, you’ve got this all figured out. In the present election, the identity of  this obnoxious outsider is obvious. But, once again, you’re wrong. Both parties this season have had their unwelcomed contenders. Admittedly, one of these intruders is louder and more pretentious than the other, but both parties have had to deal with the unrest and frustration these interlopers have either stirred up or exposed.
So where will all this pandemonium lead? Well, in Caddyshack, pretty much the whole golf course blows up, but at the end, all is well. As the characters party to the music of I’m Alright, the viewer gets the feeling everything will work out and life will go on. It is a movie, after all. In real life, the consequences of this election could be direr. Things could blow up and we won’t be alright.