Over the course of its four seasons, Netflix’s “House of Cards” has become increasingly relevant. President Frank Underwood is a corrupt, ruthless politician in this fictional show; yet, he is all too similar to many politicians in Washington today. And although he is a corrupt man, with a deranged view of life–he crawls his way to the top position in Washington, completely destroying and even sometimes murdering those in his way–President Underwood knows how to win the crowd over with his exceptional speeches.
One speech in particular showcases the kind of honesty and passion we need from real politicians.
In Season Three, when the DNC notifies Underwood that he cannot run for reelection because the party is looking for a new face, he is outraged. He agrees not to run for reelection, but still wants to focus on his newest bill. Anyone who watches the show knows that he has another plan up his sleeve; he does not take defeat easily.
The economy in this fictional TV show is failing, unemployment rates soaring, while the President’s approval rating is at an all time low. (Sound familiar? Underwood decides then to give a speech on his new job creation bill, “America Works.” He begins by stating:
We have been crippled by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, by welfare, by entitlements. And that is the root of the problem; entitlements. Let me be clear: you are entitled to nothing. You are entitled to nothing.
This sounds like a statement from a far right conservative, not a left wing democrat President.
Frank Underwood argues that it is time for the American people to take it upon themselves to get things done: it is not the responsibility of the government to hold their hands 24/7. He essentially tells the American population that he is sick of their laziness.
He goes on to tell the nation that he will not be seeking reelection, which is why he can voice his opinions so vehemently. He explicitly points out:
Now, that’s not a popular thing to say. Anyone running for office wouldn’t dare utter those words. Every adviser and consultant and staff member would beg a presidential candidate not to say them. But I can say them. Because I will not be seeking the Democratic nomination in 2016.
He points out what every politician in Washington is afraid to admit: that so many politicians only say things that will get them elected, shying away from statements that could put their position at risk.
In short, Underwood then proposes an expansive job plan. His actual plan is completely flawed, and very similar to FDR’s New Deal. He argues that, instead of giving out handouts, the government will give out jobs. Here, his philosophy is contradictory: after saying Americans are not entitled to anything, he is saying they are entitled to something: jobs.
Although his job plan is completely defective and financially impossible, his overarching theme is prevalent and motivational. Frank Underwood perfectly hits the presentation of his speech, as well as how he talks to the American people in such a brutally honest way. If I did not know how inaccurate his job plan was, I would follow anything this man said because of the passion he feels about America.
What Frank Underwood lacks in morals, he makes up for in nationalism.
We live in a society that believes that it is the government’s job and right to provide things like healthcare, jobs, and education to citizens. These are not the self-evident truths that are proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, nor are they the freedoms granted in the Constitution.
Frank Underwood, with a single speech, delivers more honest content than any politician that is currently residing in the real Washington, D.C. America needs a President who will be brutally honest, and admit that the purpose of the government is not there to grant entitlement-after-entitlement. Underwoods truthfulness of entitlements just begins to scratch the surface of what is wrong with our current government plans. If politicians were more focused on real reforms and not reelection, we would have a better functioning government.
Frank Underwood might have an impossible job plan, but at least he knows there is something incredibly wrong with our entitlements. If our real President could convey half the passion and feelings of nationalism of Frank Underwood, then we would likely not be our current dilemma.