Behind the scenes in American Government with Ted Kennedy
Think the game playing, back stabbing, ego stroking and empire building is tough at your work? Try politics. Sleaze, corruption, and idiocy is commonplace, and those are only the parts we hear about on the news, but what is it really like to try and work in the system and try and deliver something through government?
A new documentary called The Senators' Bargain follows Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy as he tries to get the landmark immigration reform passed in 2007.
It doesn't just follow the great figure of American politics, but many other people involved in the process of getting such a ground breaking piece of legislation passed through government in America, something that President Obama has just experienced with the healthcare reform.
Wife and husband team Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini spent nearly ten years making the film that is set to show on HBO this evening, and they said that Ted Kennedy agreed to make the film as soon as he received the request.
The Senators' Bargain follows Kennedy and others on the side of the immigration reform including lawyers and politicians through Capitol Hill meeting rooms deciding on the compromises to make with Republicans in order to gain their votes for reform and to ensure that millions of illegal immigrants could remain in the United States.
However, and I don't think I'm really giving anything away here, the bill failed in June 2007 despite all the deals and compromises that the team had made in order to secure votes and the public support needed to see it pass.
Apparently the film-makers had pretty much open access to the whole period to understand how bills were progressed in American government, why making changes takes so long, and just what is involved in getting some new legislation passed.
To add to that it could well be a bit of a tribute to Ted Kennedy, although the bill was never passed, it did show his commitment and his desire to make things better rather than being a career politician. Michael Camerini said of the film:
"I do think that this is the portrait of him that people haven't seen, the actual guy working…The people who try to make big social change are pretty heroic…They are in there fighting and you should meet them."
Meanwhile Shari Robertson said of the film:
"It was really understanding that intersection of politics and policy-making…"
For me though there's something more, and however timely this film is to help people understand what President Obama is having to work through with his huge reforms, it's a much needed look inside the political machine, and not just for America.
Films like this can help voters and potential voters connect with and understand what's going on in government behind the headlines, and the more transparency there is the more it's going to help voters be drawn back to the polls, whichever country they're in.
I believe we need more films that look behind the scenes of our political beasts, to show the work that faces the politicians we elect, and to reveal what they really do day to day, not just to make headlines, but to get us all more involved.