With Trump’s Arrest - We’re living through Frank Capra’s Classic Movie
By Richard Allen – April 10, 2023
We’re taking a brief break from our Hebrews Study due to recent events. So, this week’s Blog title is a play on the title of a 1941 classic movie by Director Frank Capra: “Meet John Doe.” Most of you will recognize Capra as the genius behind “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “Lost Horizon.” Capra was one of those rare Hollywood talents who actually believed in the American Ideal of “with Liberty and Justice for all.” Meet John Doe is set at the end of the Great Depression, showing an America in turmoil. Many who were living on the edge of poverty after the decade of greed in the “Roaring Twenties,” were now asking if there was still any virtue in the land. Today, watching the unhinged, woke mob arrest a former president on trumped-up charges has us all asking the same question.
And just like today, the movie portrays America with the same cast of characters: The mega wealthy clamoring for more power and control. The downtrodden and often gullible working class. And the forgotten “John Doe’s” who had fallen on hard times, most out of work after the Wall Street Bankers’ scheme in the 1920’s to get rich, brought on an Economic Depression. Today, with the recent arrest and indictment of former President Donald J. Trump, we see some parallels between the movie and real life. It really is “Life Imitating Art.” Let me give you a synopsis of the movie, adapted from Britannica:
“After being fired, opportunistic newspaper columnist Anne Mitchell (Barbara Stanwyck) pens a fake letter by “John Doe,” who threatens to commit suicide over the injustices experienced by the “common man.” The letter strikes a chord with readers and saves Mitchell’s job. To maintain the ruse, she pays Long John Willoughby (Gary Cooper), a down-on-his-luck former baseball player, to pose as her fictional creation. As John Doe becomes a populist hero, Willoughby is increasingly manipulated by Mitchell and her ambitious boss, D.B. Norton (Edward Arnold) who hopes to use John Doe to further his own political ambitions. Eventually, Willoughby tries to reveal the truth, Norton undermines his efforts. Despondent, Willoughby decides to commit suicide but is persuaded not to by John Doe followers." https://www.britannica.com/topic/Meet-John-Doe
This movie is heartwarming, especially in the relationship between Ann Mitchell (Stanwyck) and John Willoughby (Cooper). In response to the popularity of John Doe and his cause, Ann and her editor (James Gleason) with funding by the wealthy owner of the newspaper (Edward Arnold) begin weekly radio addresses, with John reading virtuous homilies written by Ann to inspire and encourage John Doe fans to “Be a better Neighbor.” While John Willoughby is falling in love with Ann, she is falling in love with the John Doe character that she’s created. Using letters written by her deceased father, Ann writes of down home decency and kindness in John’s radio scripts. Even John Willoughby himself becomes a believer in his own character. And when John Doe Clubs spring up all over America, this populist movement gains a life of its own. D.B. Norton, the power-hungry owner of the Newspaper sees the “John Doe Movement” as a vehicle to gain political power, and launch himself into the presidency. It all comes to a head at the end, as John Willoughby discovers Norton’s devious plans, and attempts to reveal them at the National John Doe Convention. As John Willoughby gets to the stage to bare his soul, and make things right, D.B. Norton unleashes his paid thugs disguised as paper-boys to smear John Doe and the Movement as a fake, with Willoughby trying to get rich.
OK, it is a sappy love story reflecting Christian values (“Love thy neighbor as thyself”), and the ongoing struggle between “good and evil.” But what has made me think lately are the parallels between the John Willoughby character played by Gary Cooper and former President, Donald J. Trump. Like Willoughby, Trump is a flawed man. But he’s a flawed man who believes in the American Dream. I can’t think of a reason that a well-off billionaire, with nothing to gain, would put himself through the trials that the Donald has endured over the past eight years to win a low-paying job like President of the United States (he never even accepted a salary). And while there may be some pride in winning the highest office in the land, the level of public animosity, slander and non-stop attacks from all quarters, would make most people decide “it’s just not worth it.”
As most people know, Donald J. Trump’s personal wealth has declined drastically as a result of his “one-term” presidency. By standing against the Elite-Global-Powers that control the United States, Trump unleashed the “hounds of hell” upon himself from the “entire world’s system.” The wealthy Elite who control the world’s money, view him as their number one impediment to a New World Order. World Communism, specifically China along with Russia see him as their great “nemesis,” who will fight them in their quest for world socialist dominance. Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum, working through George Soros (an actual former Nazi) see Trump and his MAGA Followers as the greatest barrier to subverting most Western Cultures with godless “Socialist-Wokeism.” They are all on a mission to destroy Trump, along with the country they hate, especially since it was clear early on that they couldn’t subvert or control him. Academia, after their 100 year love affair with Marx, denounce him as the Orange Man and Racist. And the lap-dog-media, reporting exactly what the global elites tell them to, have always seen Donald Trump as a boorish, morbidly obese and crude racist who is just a naive simpleton. All that is left are the “unwashed masses,” many of whom are totally clueless about what is going on.
But there is another group that should give us all hope, the average Joe and Jane, those who are the working class who have done most of the working, living and dying in America’s wars. They love the Donald, not because he’s perfect, but because he gives them hope for a better tomorrow. A hope that in the end, the corrupt, elite, wealthy global oligarchs and politicians won’t win the day, and that justice and fairness for all will win out. Like most of you, I struggle watching all the darkness and the hopeless despair that engulfs us. It sure looks like evil already has, and will triumph.
But appearances can be deceiving. Like Capra, Donald Trump believes there is hope for a better tomorrow and he makes us believe that as well. The question has often been asked: “Can Man Live Without Hope?” The answer is No. And while we as Christians know how the story ends, God wins and the Devil loses, it’s hard to watch the daily battles defeating that which is good. We are still called to be “salt and light” in this present age. While the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus is the primary focus of our lives, it’s also hard to live in a world with constant despair that “everything is going to hell in a hand basket.” If William Wilberforce or Abraham Lincoln had just accepted Slavery, that horrible institution would still be with us. Remember the phrase attributed to philosopher Edmund Burke: ”The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.” Truth is, DONALD TRUMP IS TRYING TO DO RIGHT FOR THE AVERAGE AMERICAN! And he’s being resisted by the D.B. Norton’s of this world at every turn. His first term was one of “Back-Stabbing Traitors, False Allegations, Investigations and Phony Indignation” by people who were actually doing the very things they accused him of. While they slowed him down, it was amazing what he accomplished for the People of the United States. And the corrupt bureaucracy in the “permanent political class” HATED HIM FOR IT!
The elite global powers couldn’t control Trump or his message. So I’m sure they were shocked that he was actually serious about leveling the playing field and getting rid of the “rigged game” that the global insiders ran in Washington D.C. and our State houses. So, they proclaimed Trump “Public Enemy Number 1,” and launched a “scorched earth” campaign against him, and his family. They not only spread malicious lies, but also fabricated bogus charges for which other politicians had never been charged, all to stop him. Near the end of “Meet John Doe” as the picture at the top shows, evil oligarch D.B. Norton stands on stage with John Willoughby (Cooper) at the John Doe National Convention, accusing John of the very things Norton himself was actually doing: Using his money to buy power! D.B. Norton and his “mostly peaceful anti-Fascist, Fascists” stormed the place to “censor the information that John Doe was trying to reveal.” While cutting the wires to John’s microphone, they allowed D.B. Norton a megaphone to spew his projected lie: “John Doe was a fake, the idea was cooked up to make millions for himself,” which is exactly what Norton had done!
After his humiliation at the John Doe Convention, including being hit with fruit and vegetables by Norton’s violent, paid, and mostly peaceful protestors, John Willoughby slinks away, unseen for months. But the one worry D.B. Norton had was that, just maybe, John will actually show up on Christmas Eve and throw himself off the courthouse at midnight in protest, so that people would know that while some of his persona as “John Doe” was a clever fake, he really did believe the message and that the John Doe movement was genuine. To D.B. Norton and the sycophants around him who swarm to power and money, the real danger was not John Doe, it was his ideas: “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” and “love mercy and justice for all.” That’s what the elites like D.B. Norton fear: A message of love, freedom and hope. If they can’t control the idea, they’ll seek to destroy the one who is promoting it.
In closing, as pictured just above, there is an intense scene on Christmas Eve with John Willoughby (Cooper), Ann Mitchell (Stanwyck) along with D.B. Norton (Arnold) and members of the John Doe Club on the roof of the courthouse. They are all amazed that John really intends on throwing himself off the roof in protest, with a letter in his pocket addressed to: “All the John Doe’s in the world.” Having been sick in bed with a bug, Ann is fighting to stay on her feet but tenaciously holds on to Willoughby, making every argument she can to stop him. As Ann pleads with him not to kill himself and to keep the “John Doe” movement alive, when she finally listens and hears the Church Bells ringing out that it is Christmas Day. Ann then says:
“Well, you don't have to die to keep the John Doe idea alive! Someone already died for that once! The first John Doe. And He's kept that idea alive for nearly two thousand years. It was He who kept it alive in them and He'll go on keeping it alive for ever and always! For every John Doe movement these men kill, a new one will be born! That's why those bells are ringing, John! They're calling to us, not to give up, but to keep on fighting! http://nldslab.soe.ucsc.edu/charactercreator/film_corpus/film_20100519/all_imsdb_05_19_10/Meet-John-Doe.html
While the movie isn’t perfect, Ann was right. Hopefully we’ll all look back some day and think: “Though Donald Trump was an imperfect hero, he certainly was the John Doe whom God raised up in our age to stand for justice, mercy and fairplay.” But always remember, our real hope is Jesus Christ and His death 2,000 years ago. We have God’s promise that every wrong will be made right. Jesus came to lift up the downtrodden and teach us to Love One Another. But He did so much more, He died to forgive our sins and bring us back to God. One day He will come to judge the wicked and bring the reign of evil and hate to an end. “Even so, Come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). Soli Deo Gloria!