The Candidate

Popular 1972 movie "The Candidate"

The Candidate is centered on American politics. It concerns the different factors that affect elections for governmental positions and have an impact on campaigns. Senator Crocker Jarmon, the incumbent, is a well-known and popular figure. He is opposed by Bill McKay, the contender, a dynamic and idealistic former politician's son. Given the remote chances of winning the elections, Bill McKay offers to run for office in exchange for the freedom to express his values in public. However, McKay gradually adjusts his strategy after realizing that polls predict he would lose the race by a wide margin. The messages he offers to the public become more and more appealing and generic as well. He goes on to meet his father concerning speculation of his endorsement of Jarmon, an Issue that is cleared later on. Using tailored messages, media, and his father's presence, Bill McKay eventually wins but with a hint of not knowing what to do next (Porter).

Depiction of the campaign process

The candidate, therefore, offers a searing depiction of how the campaign process takes place. Not only does it portray the propaganda, use of media and most of all the need for endorsement by well-known individuals. The movie clearly highlights what some have come to term as the McKay effect (Porter). In this case, although the actions of the candidate helped to increase his popularity, his association with a former governor (his father John McKay) and the fact that he was seen as supporting his son after the debate played a significant role in boosting the candidate's points. This event shows that McKay's family name makes him a credible contender for the seat. Additionally, the endorsement by another outstanding individual (the Labor Union representative) further proves that campaigns revolve around the candidate's legacy, and support by other influential people. Secondly, it is important to note that successful campaigns rely on a team that functions cohesively and creatively to sway public opinion. Indeed, the slogans and intelligent arguments and television stunts provided by Lucas, a renowned political election specialist, turn out to be vital campaign tools for the candidate.

Compromise and the candidate's image

Concerning the candidate, the movie illustrates the process in which those vying for government office tend to lay aside their personal beliefs so as to win elections. Bill McKay, an idealistic individual, realizes that he has to compromise on several of his traits if he is to win. For example, McKay gets a haircut, alters his stand on various issues and even allows his advisors to control his image via television, propaganda and the depiction of the opponent as a villain. This is a strong implication that candidates are likely to win when they present themselves in a manner that appeals to the public in addition to family support and endorsement by other influential people. In the absence of these elements, then success is unlikely. It is also evident that candidates with an excellent backing can be elected even when they do not have the skills and experience to perform. McKay asking Lucas for the way forward after winning shows how clueless he is concerning his new office duties.

Incumbents and the power of the media

The movie also highlights the incumbents as individuals who have to be wary of losing despite being trustworthy for a long time. Take for instance the incumbent Crocker Jarman loses his seat despite being faced by an initially inferior candidate. It is possible that he underestimated the power of the media, family legacy and a strong campaign team. His only significant weapon was aimed at tarnishing his opponent's name by indicating that Bill McKay does not possess any credentials, has little experience and is depending on his father's political legacy. The outcome of the election in the movie eventually shows that incumbents have all the reasons to be wary of any candidate, however frail they may appear.

Democracy and the outcome of campaigns

All in all, the film purposefully highlights the father-son politics that is present in America and how it can influence elections. It also illustrates the need for candidate compromise, creating a seductive appeal and political endorsement for campaigns to win. Lastly, the somewhat unpredictable outcome of campaigns and voting is seen and can be interpreted as an indicator of democracy and health challenge between the incumbents and the candidates.

Works Cited

Porter, L.B. “The Candidate.” Struggle for the Presidency, 15 September 2012, Accessed 22 May 2017.

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