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US politics and society - recommended viewing on BBC and Netflix

Mike McCartney

18th October 2020

Parallels between 1968 and 2020?

I want to bring to the attention of students of US politics a couple of excellent features out there that are well worth a watch. And don't just take my word for it as a teacher of the subject, they have been well received by students!

I've written on here before about whether this year's election is to take place against the most febrile and polarised backdrop in recent US history. Certainly there is argument to say that there isn't much in it, but that the partisanship evident inside the beltway is at a more extreme level than ever.

The two programmes I want to recommend should allow students to join the dots between two electoral cycles that are over 50 years apart.

The first is the Trump Show from the BBC. This is the blurb from the beeb website:

"Protests, political turmoil, pandemic - the inside story of the extraordinary Trump presidency. Friends and foes tell of his rise from TV star to leader of the free world."

A short trailer is here.

It's always worth mentioning that the programme is absolute gold dust for a study of the Trump administration when studying the topic of the US presidency. In particular the importance of the support provided by the Executive Office and the relative significance of the Cabinet.

Secondly, the "Trial of the Chicago 7", now available to watch on Netflix.

Here is the trailer from IMDb (which currently rates it at 8.0, by the way).

I'll leave readers to make their own minds up about the parallels between the 1960s and the present time. But I'll sign off with this quite excellent reaction to the Chicago 7 film from one of our Year 12 students, Kate M:

'Thanks for the recommendation Sir- it was quite a challenging watch with the extent of its relevancy being so extreme.

Trumps want for “law and order” at the expense of human rights being violated is uncanny to the drive of Nixon in 1969 when he came into power, interpreting federal laws to imprison those he disagreed with, charging protesters with bumped up charges to get them “in line”. I think as well even further the unnecessary, potentially racially aggravated killing recently of Michael Reinoehl as well as Breanna Taylor feels chillingly similar to Hampton.

The depiction of the police brutality at the protests was also shocking- as in Trumps 2016 rallies I remember he reminisced on “The old days” when protesters would “be carried out on a stretcher” and Trump himself said “I'd like to punch him in the face” about a protester who was complying with police escorting him out of the rally.

Even further you could argue it’s relevance to the current case with ACB- as she forgot a fundamental guarantee of The First Amendment a few days ago. Hoffman’s incompetence and biased way of ruling was interesting to see “in action” as obviously that is the fear of what is going to be brought by ACB joining the Supreme Court.'

Finally, a caveat emptor: both of these programmes contain very strong language.

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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