Practice: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Idealistic Senator Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) began his lengthy filibuster speech, including home-spun insight on democratic ideals after reading from the Declaration of Independence (partially to stall for time):
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights – that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness….that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish……’
I always get a great kick outta that part of the Declaration of Independence. Now, you’re not gonna have a country that can make these kind of rules work, if you haven’t got men that have learned to tell human rights from a punch in the nose.
(The Gallery applauded)
It’s a funny thing about men, you know. They all start life being boys. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if some of these Senators were boys once. And that’s why it seemed like a pretty good idea to me to get boys out of crowded cities and stuffy basements for a couple of months out of the year and build their bodies and minds for a man-sized job, because those boys are gonna be behind these desks some of these days. And it seemed like a pretty good idea, getting boys from all over the country, boys of all nationalities and ways of living — getting them together. Let them find out what makes different people tick the way they do. Because I wouldn’t give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn’t have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little lookin’ out for the other fella, too.
That’s pretty important, all that. It’s just the blood and bone and sinew of this democracy that some great men handed down to the human race, that’s all! But of course, if you’ve got to build a dam where that boys’ camp oughta be, to get some graft to pay off some political army or something, well that’s a different thing. Aw no! If you think I’m going back there and tell those boys in my state and say: ‘Look, now fellas, forget about it. Forget all this stuff I’ve been tellin’ you about this land you live in — it’s a lot of hooey. This isn’t your country. It belongs to a lot of James Taylors.’ Aw no! Not me! And anybody here that thinks I’m gonna do that, they’ve got another thing comin’.
(He whistled loudly with his fingers in his mouth, startling Senators who were dozing or reading other materials.)
That’s all right. I just wanted to find out whether you still had faces. I’m sorry, gentlemen. I-I know I’m being disrespectful to this honorable body, I know that. I- A guy like me should never be allowed to get in here in the first place. I know that! And I hate to stand here and try your patience like this, but EITHER I’M DEAD RIGHT OR I’M CRAZY.