Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Waiting for Macguffin

Waiting for Macguffin
Peter Allan

In his films Alfred Hitchcock often introduced characters and sub-plots whose sole purpose was to distract the viewer while more important information was kept unobtrusively in the background for maximum effect when later revealed during a film's climactic moment. Hitchcock called these cinematic devices "Macguffins." The Macguffin should be familiar to any voter who has watched Republican electoral strategy evolve over the past several decades.

Most Americans do not have upper management positions with Fortune 500 companies nor do they hold inherited seven-figure stock portfolios. Accordingly, if voters focused on it, a majority would probably oppose the Bush-league economic policy of tax breaks for the very rich, corporate welfare for the very powerful, and revolving-door industry regulation that leaves the fox guarding the henhouse.

But voters rarely do focus on the central plotline. Instead, cleverly scripted campaigns divert and distract with emotional Macguffin-like wedge issues complete with entertaining sound-bites that can be re-run ad nauseum on right wing media outlets like Fox News, the Drudge Report, and the Rush Limbaugh show.

During the Presidential election Macguffin reared his head in the now forgotten push for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Early as it is in this Congressional election year, I think I have spotted Macguffin in the drive to felonize illegal immigration. This classic wedge issue will be used to frighten blue-collar workers while subtly playing upon unspoken racial prejudices. Willie Horton couldn't have done a better re-write.

But maybe this time voters will ignore the noise machine long enough to hold this Republican-dominated Congress accountable for its rampant corruption, its environmental negligence, its erosion of our civil liberties, its lazy acquiescence on matters of national security, and its refusal to act like an equal branch of government when confronted by Presidential arrogance and bullying. If they don't, all I can say is we had all better lock the door the next time we take a shower.