Brewster’s Millions is one of those silly B-comedies you must learn to love young or not at all. Still, there’s some ageless charm in the tale: it’s been remade at least five times since young Cecil B. DeMille’s original 1914 celluloid production.
In the 1985 version, “Monty” Brewster (black actor Richard Pryor) is a minor-league baseball pitcher who discovers he’s the sole heir to a long-lost (white) uncle’s $300 million fortune, but there’s a catch: Brewster must blow $30 million in 30 days, with no tangible assets to show for the money, to inherit the full fortune. Brewster finds some clever ways to waste the money, such as buying a rare stamp for several million and using it for postage. But my favorite gag is when Brewster declares himself a last-minute candidate for mayor of New York City, runs television commercials around the clock in every state declaring his opponent foolish and corrupt, and adopts the campaign slogan “Vote None of the Above.”
Until the United States Congress adopts term-limits, I plan to follow a slightly modified strategy and vote “None of the Incumbents.”
I’ve almost written this piece a half-dozen times over the past couple of years as I’ve grown more and more frustrated with the legislative fecklessness of Republicans. I won’t rehash their foolishness here. If you’re conservative, you’ve heard the litany; if you aren’t it’d be meaningless anyway. From steel tariffs and Medicaid to Social Security reform and agricultural subsidies to overall spending, Republicans have utterly abandoned conservatism.
I was a college senior in 1994 when Republicans wrested control of the House and Senate from Democrats. The wise words of my faculty adviser, Dr. Marvin Folkertsma, have returned to me many times since. He agreed the Republican takeover was one of the most remarkable and unexpected political events of his lifetime, but cautioned that it wouldn’t change much about how Washington works. He was dead right.
I believe that time spent in Congress is, in its own way, just as perceptually corrupting as being a famous actor, athlete, televangelist, or any other of the perpetually dysfunctional celebrities among us. That’s why I think it’s a disgrace that the Republican congressman for whom I was an intern, Frank R. Wolf, recently celebrated his silver anniversary in Congress and is now the senior member of Virginia’s delegation. I’d like all congressmen limited to a single term and their staffs, perquisites, and pay cut in half.
Serving should constitute a huge sacrifice with no incentive for careerism at that level. Not only would this reduce the direct attraction of public office to candidates motivated by self-interest, it would reduce the value of ex-congressmen to lobbyists (there’d be a lot more exes with a lot fewer connections) and thus the indirect attractions of public office as well.
What finally brought me to this point? The oil price-gouging legislation and demagoguery were the last straws. Republican leaders are spouting rhetoric that undermines the very foundation of American prosperity and fosters economic ignorance — already an overly plentiful commodity. All that distinguishes our economic policies from those of the degenerating powers of Europe are a few population points of economic simpletons; cultivate a few million more such larcenists and we’ll slip to the level of a South American banana republic like Bolivia or Venezuela.
Each time I’ve begun this piece, Democratic leaders immediately did or said something so childish and irresponsible that I changed my mind and decided voting against Republicans wasn’t worth the chance of Democratic rule. Not this time. I’ve now realized it’s time to “reload” and try again with a new Republican majority a few terms down the road. That’s why I’ll be doing my best to see that incumbent Republicans lose both houses of Congress in 2006. I’ll no longer financially support the Republican Party and I’ll only support Republican challengers, not incumbents in congressional elections.