The Rant queued up It’s a Wonderful Life like we do every year. This time around we were struck by how the character of Mr. Potter echoes so many of our present tensions: a disgust with immigrants (he calls the Italians “garlic eaters”); a contempt for the working poor; a fear of the blue-collar, “lazy,” rabble; a claim that the rich deserve to be richer on the back of labor. Did we mention Potter serves as the villain of this tale? He spews the equivalent of Fox News pablum and our hero, George Bailey, refutes and thwarts him at every turn.
And George learns what a hole in the existence of so many people he would leave had he never been born. The Rant realized we have always had Potters in America. An endless string of them proclaiming their hatred of anyone different than them, a constant chorus warning of the “dangerous” of society that would strive for even one sliver of the system they manipulate for their own gain.
We will always have Potters. But where have the George Baileys gone? People that make our culture better through a steady ripple of decency and hard work and reaching out to others. The Rant doesn’t suggest these people don’t exist, but that they have withdrawn and started to doubt the difference one person can make in sea of Potters.
We once fancied ourselves a George Bailey. But lately we wonder if the effort really bears any fruit. If we can dent the fortress of inequality the Potters have constructed. And why those standing outside the gates believe the lie they will never be worthy to step inside. George never see the impact of his life until it is removed. He just keeps grinding and doing his best. Potter will never stop, and neither can we.