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Government and the Economy in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"
by Dirk Mateer `

The classic 1939 film "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" has a snip that allows a deeper discussion about the public choice perspective of politicians. In the scene, Sen. Jefferson Smith (portrayed by Jimmy Stewart) confronts the long serving and ethically compromised Sen. Paine (played by Claude Rains). Paine responds to Smith's moral indignation (Smith has just learned that Paine is part of a corrupt dam deal) by saying that he came to Washington with Smith's idealism but learned to cut deals on behalf of his constituents. The suggestion is that politicians respond to their institutional environment rather than being morally flawed (or flawless) characters.

This Commentary is related to the following Clips:
Government and the Economy in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" by Directed and Produced by Frank Capra (1939) This clip allows for a deeper discussion about the public choice perspective of politics.