Falling Down Again

One of the most popular and most talked about movies of 1993 was Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas, Barbara Hershey, and Robert Duval. 

Douglas played William “D-FENS” Foster, an engineer at a defense contractor who has a really bad day.  Some described the movie as “an ordinary man at war with the everyday world.”

Foster became an iconic anti-hero for the people who (stealing Bill Clinton’s line)worked hard and played by the rules, yet found themselves at the bottom of the heap in the post-Cold War era of 1993.

Foster’s wife (Hershey) had left him, and he moved back in with his mother. Making matters worse, Hershey had a court order barring Foster from visiting their young daughter, whom he clearly loved more than life itself.

On the little girl’s birthday, everything falls apart.  Foster gets laid off from the defense contractor job.  The police (Duval) remind him he’s not to go near his wife or daughter.  And in one memorable scene, a fast food chain’s rules interfere when Foster just wants breakfast:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eREiQhBDIk&hl=en_US&fs=1&hl=en]

 

When I read the story of Jetblue flight attendant, Steven Slater, Falling Down  comes to mind. 

And I’m not the only one. 

According to a new Wall Street Journal/MSNBC Poll, two-thirds of Americans believe the worst is yet to come for the economy.  Democrat pollster Peter Hart sees Steven Slater as metaphor for voter sentiment.

Mr. Hart said the 2010 contest is being pulled by the sentiment associated with the JetBlue flight attendant who fled his plane via the emergency chute after an altercation with a passenger. Calling it the "JetBlue election," Mr. Hart said: "Everyone's hurling invective and they're all taking the emergency exit."

Like William Foster, Steven Slater seems to symbolize—in exaggerated form—the mood of the American people.  We’re fed up with bureaucracy and petty rules, “minute and uniform,” as Tocqueville put it,  “. . . through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd.”

Steven Slater broke through, alright.

In 1993, ordinary Americans—the Tea Party before it had that name—were ready to rumble.  After the Reagan years had restore some semblance of normalcy following the weird 1970s, Bush and Clinton conspired to impose a “new world order” that was inconsistent with our constitution, to use 18th century lingo. 

On November 6, 1994, the American voter signaled our disgust with Washington’s incompetence and encroachments. We switched controll of Congress from Democrat to Republican. In 2006, the voters reversed themselves, returning Congressional control the Democrats.  The voters wanted a change.

It worked.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 12,398 when the Nancy Pelosi’s surgically enhanced hand snatched the Speaker’s gavel from Denny Hastert.  Today, the DJIA opened at 10,300 and some change.  Some change, indeed.

In 2007, the unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. Today’s it’s 9.5 percent and rising, according to Timothy Geithner.  Today, new unemployment claims unexpectedly rose by 2,000 for the second week in a row. Consumer spending slowed. The national debt has increased 21 percent since the Democrats took over Congress—and sole authority to tax and spend.

Even with all that bad news and angst, there is great news ahead. Elections offer Americans the opportunity to take control of their lives and their future. In 2010, the shift in power from Washington to the people could be  of a historic scale.

Can you see November?