Brains, heart and experience combined with charisma, charm and a great work ethic, are all ingredients we need in our representatives in Washington.
The 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (staring Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur, and directed by Frank Capra), a naive man (Jimmy Stewart) with a big heart and do good constitution, is appointed to fill a vacancy in the US Senate. His efforts to pass a bill for a national boys camp promptly collide with the political corruption of the establishment in Washington, but he does not back down and puts the filibuster (the real one where you have to continue talking about the issue at hand without a break) to good use, making his point. His efforts end in one last exhausted speech at the end of a very long night.
Ironically, Angelina Jolie met Brad Pitt on the set of their 2005 hit movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith, which has a very different story line than the iconic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but does share a name that fits here.
Angelina Jolie, is an Oscar winning movie star (Girl, Interrupted 1999), Golden Glob winner (Girl, Interrupted-1999, Gia-1998 and George Wallace-1997), as well a plethora of other film and TV awards and nominations in the US and globally.
She is also known as a globe-trotting humanitarian, activist and special envoy to the U.N. High Commissionaire for Refugees (UNHCR), and supports the following Charities and Foundations:
- Afghanistan Relief Organization
- Alliance For The Lost Boys Of Sudan
- Cancer Schmancer Movement
- Care to Learn
- Cinema For Peace
- Clinton Global Initiative
- Daniel Pearl Foundation
- Direct Change
- Doctors Without Borders
- Global Action for Children
- HALO Trust
- Human Rights Watch
- Jolie-Pitt Foundation
- Kids in Need of Defense
- Millennium Promise
- Millennium Villages
- Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation
- Muhammad Ali Center
- ONE Campaign
- Peace One Day
- Reporters Without Borders
- Sophie’s Gift
- SOS Children’s Villages
- UN Millennium Project
- Vital Voices
- Women in the World Foundation
- Yéle Haiti Foundation
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair (on news stands November 11th), Angelina indicated she was “open” to pursuing a life in politics, diplomacy or public service:
“When you work as a humanitarian, you are conscious that politics have to be considered…because if you really want to make an extreme change, then you have a responsibility. But I honestly don’t know in what role I would be more useful–I am conscious of what I do for a living, and that [could] make it less possible.”
A transition from acting to politics is not that unusual per se. Famous examples that come to mind are: Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Ben Stein, Al Franken and Fred Thompson among others. Women actors, however, have not fared as well. Shirley Temple ran for U.S. House of Representatives in 1967, and Nancy Kulp ran for U.S. House of Representatives in 1984, and both lost (Shirley Temple did serve as the US Ambassador to Ghana from 1974-1976 and the US Ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989-1992). It’s time for more women, actors or not, to jump in the fray.
Angelina Jolie has justifiably made it (and will probably continue to make it), to “most beautiful women” lists. She will also continue to win admiration and awards for her work as an actress and now screenwriter (By the Sea and In the Land of Blood and Honey) and film director (A Place in Time, In the Land of Blood and Honey, Unbroken, By the Sea, Africa). In addition she has definitely proved her metal as a humanitarian and activist in her work with refugees worldwide, as well as many other projects as Goodwill Ambassador for the UN. Her politics, however, are not as clear-cut. She is a registered independent, and speaking about the 2008 elections she said:
“I think people assume I’m a Democrat. But I’m registered independent and I’m still undecided. So I’m looking at McCain as well as Obama.”
More recently in 2012, while appearing at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington to promote her directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey, Jolie spoke about the state of affairs:
“I think there are many, many things I think have gone in a wonderful direction and there are a few things I am disappointed in but I don’t feel like tonight is the night to clarify…but there are many wonderful things that have moved forward, and of course, some other things that are very frustrating.”
(Angelina and husband Brad Pitt, also used their Washington visit to “stopped by” the White House to meet with President Obama and discuss Angelina’s work on preventing mass atrocities and combating sexual violence).
Being on the fence on some issues and not being affiliated with either of our two major political parties may prove to be a big advantage for her and for us. There is not doubt that Angelina has the experience, brains and heart to continue to do good and further expand her contributions by getting involved in politics and running for office. There is also no doubt she could put all that experience and skills to good use in Washington. We can all benefit from more women in DC, in both houses of congress, and in the executive. Someone like her with the intelligence, priorities in the right place, history of service and desire to do more, would be very effective and very much welcome. Her charisma, charm and star qualities, would just be an added bonus and bring much needed energy to the dreary and stuffy culture in Washington, and may actually help her get things done.
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