How are the 5 Principles of Politics manifested in the documentary Last Man Standing: Politics, Texas Style? The documentary: ‘Last Man Standing: Politics, Texas Style’ tells the story of two sets of elections in Texas in the year of 2002. The main election shown is the race for State Representative, between the incumbent, Rick Green and his opponent, Patrick Rose. As well as this, the election for state Governor between Perry and Sanchez is also shown.
Throughout the film, the five principles of politics: The History Principle, The Rationality Principle, The Institution Principle, The Collective-Action Principle and The Policy Principle, manifest themselves in many different ways. The first aspect of The 5 Principles is The History Principle. This principle is concerned with how everything to do with politics got to be like it is today. This includes: Why institutions are the way they are, why certain groups of voters choose to vote for certain candidates and how past events can affect politics and elections particularly. This principle is demonstrated very clearly in the documentary.
Firstly, Texas was historically a democratic state but this has changed in recent times and it is clear that in recent history, republicans have a better record in elections in Texas. The documentary explains that during the ‘technological boom’ in Austin, a lot of new voters moved into this area and into Texas in general. The people were predominantly white but the minority groups were also growing which meant that Texas good very easily swing towards the democrat or republican side. One political commentator in the documentary said when talking about voters in Texas, ‘They go out there, find a Republican and they vote for them’.
This shows that at the time of the election this election, the Republican Party were favorites and so therefore was Rick Greene. In this particular case, of the Republican rise, it is clear that religion and more specifically the activity of churches has also had a significant impact on this rise and therefore on the shaping of politics. Furthermore, in the other election followed by the documentary, Tony Sanchez, a Hipic man, was running. We learn that it was going to be very difficult for Sanchez to win votes because historically, Hipic politicians have found it very difficult to do so in Texas.
These points also show that historical activity in an area, in this case Texas, can influence politics. Perhaps the most significant way that the History Principle manifests itself in the documentary is through the accusations towards Rick Green that arose one month before the Election Day. He was accused by media of having worked for a supplement business and this was seen as unethical activity by the much of the public of Texas and this indeed showed in the results of the election. This story shows that past events can influence and effect the decision of voters and is a clear demonstration of the History Principle.
The second principle is The Rationality Principle. This principle explains that all political behavior has a purpose. This behavior can range from a simple conversation between friends about the current political situation to The President of the USA making political speeches but it always has a reason and a purpose. In the documentary, this principle is highlighted in several ways. The political behavior of voters is demonstrated when they are interviewed and asked who they are going to vote for.
Some voters were very blunt in saying that they were going to vote Republican, simply because they believed that Texas should be a Republican state and that is what they had always voted Republican. On two occasions, voters implied that they were planning to vote for Patrick Rose simply because of his looks. These two examples show how different factors can influence the political behavior of voters. Furthermore, the behavior of the politicians themselves is shown throughout the documentary because most of everything that the politicians do is politically orientated.
Firstly, it is clear that throughout their campaigns, both Green and Rose talk negatively about each other. When planning and giving their political speeches they attempt to take negative aspects of each other and present these to the voters to try to better their own chance in the election. An example of this was when Rose was talking to voters and explained to them that the other candidate, Green was not from Texas where as he was, clearly an attempt to down his opponent.
Another clear example of this was when Rose attempted to take advantage of the stories that came out about Green by going to the newspaper for support and producing a television commercial. Exactly the same technique was used by Perry towards Sanchez in the race for state Governor, again an attempt to down his opponent by releasing the story. This is the first significant aspect of behavior shown by both politicians. Other aspects of politician behavior were shown throughout the documentary including: constantly expressing their own views, visiting households to talk to voters. All of hese factors explain the fact that the politicians have a clear reason behind their behavior, whether it is attempting to down their opponent or talking about themselves, the majority of their behavior is concerned with simply winning votes, which is called electoral connection. The third principle is the Collective Action Principle. This is the idea that all politics is collective action. In theory, political leaders should act on behalf of voters and act as a voice. However conflict is always likely due to self-interest of the politician as well as the activity of bargaining between politicians and political parties.
This principle is shown in the documentary. Firstly, both politicians engage a lot with voters and one reason that they do this is to try to understand what the voters want from their representative. This demonstrates the theory that politics is collective action and that agendas set by politicians can be a direct result of the opinions and demands of the voters. However, the ideology that political leaders should echo their voters is not realistic and conflict between the voter’s opinion and the individual needs of the politician can be seen throughout the documentary.
Often during the campaign, both Green and Rose made public speeches in which they would mention their plans or agendas if they were to be elected. These statements were often met with applause or cheering from the audience and this shows that that the politician may in fact be saying these things to simply please that particular group and therefore win votes, meeting his individual needs and not necessarily the needs of the other voters.
The fourth Principle is the Institution Principle which explains the rules and procedures that provide incentives for political behavior, thereby shaping politics. These institutions provide authority for politicians and also highlight the areas in which they can govern this authority. This principle is mainly concerned with the rules and procedures for Politicians once they are in office and active so it does not arise a lot. However, the rules of this particular election were illustrated during the documentary.
Although the politicians are able to use almost any technique they want to win votes and minimize votes for their opponent, there were some procedures that had to be followed. During debated between the politicians and the final debate before the election between Green and Rose particularly, there was a concise structure to be followed through giving speaking and then answering questions. Another way in which this principle is apparent in the documentary is during the final Election Day when the political parties are shown counting the votes from different areas in the state.
The aspect of delegation within political parties is also one that is mainly seen after elections, but is shown in minor ways during the election campaign. We see that politicians would delegate responsibility in the campaign to other individuals to within their party. The final principle is the Policy Principle. This explains that political outcomes are the products of individual preferences and institutional procedures. Again, this principle is demonstrated mainly after the elections and during the time when the politicians are actually in office.
This would be demonstrated when agendas are produced by the politicians, whether these agendas are as a result of the individual preferences of the voters or of the politicians themselves. The History Principle, the Rationality Principle, and Collective action principle are illustrated in several ways throughout the documentary. On the other hand, both the Institution Principle and the Policy Principle are not highlighted as much by the documentary, simply because these principles become more apparent after the elections and during the politicians actual reign in Government.
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