Howard Beale, the protagonist in Paddy Chayefsky‘s angry script about television news in the movie “Network” had it right.
“I’m made as hell and I’m not going to take it any more,” Beale said in a spastic rant from his anchor desk in the fictional movie network news show.
That rant became one of those phrases that became part of often-quoted lines from films and it also pointed a sharp, acerbic finger at broadcast news in general and American life overall.
Now many American voters are Howard Beale’s angry man, putting flamboyant billionaire Donald Trump on a path to the Republican nomination for President.
On the Democratic side, the anger candidate of the moment in self-declared Socialist Bernie Sanders, who pounds the podium like Beale and is giving presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton a run for the ticket.
“Donald Trump is saying what many of us are thinking,” a supporter of “The Donald” told me recently.
One could argue that such a statement suggests that voter is not thinking at all but just venting his anger of the system as it exists today and that anger manifests itself into votes for a candidate who political professionals believe could well destroy the American way of life.
Trump is a self-indulging misogynist who uses vulgarity in his speeches, brags about how much lust he has for his daughter, threatens anyone who agrees with him and mangles facts so much that most consider him an unbridled liar.
Sanders is an angry old man, an independent who promotes a form of government that is so alien to uninformed voters that they can’t even fathom what Socialism really means.
Both men tap anger about government that has grown to epidemic proportions and could be called a virus that threatens our society.
Republicans are scrambling for ways to stop Trump, a move that could be too little too late. They are even willing to consider Ted Cruz, the Texas Senator who has alienated his own party with vicious stunts and rabid ultra-conservatism.
Both Trump and Cruz represent blatant ironies about the rampant, and too often racial hatred of Barack Obama.
They claim Obama lacked experience as a political leader, yet they flock to a businessman with a questionable record and no record or experience for the job as President.
Or they claim a first-term Senator, which Obama was when elected President, did not have enough experience. Ted Cruz is a first term Senator from Texas.
Some who sit back and laugh at the shenanigans of the 2016 race sit back, smirk, and say Republicans created their own disasters by their embrace of the tea party and turning bimbos like Sarah Palin into candidates for office.
Democrats have their own faults in their mess but the upset of Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the Michigan primary is most likely a bump in the road for her eventual nomination.
If Trump is the Republican nominee, most political “experts” see him impossible to win the general election in November is the Democrats tap Clinton.
But those same experts didn’t see Trump as a “real candidate” for office when this whole mess began.
Trump has proven that in American politics, anything can happen, and it can happen because voters are mad as hell and they’re not taking it anymore.
(Edited to correct the name of the scriptwriter to Paddy Chayefsky.)