It was a Wonderful Life
As I look around America today, I feel like I am living in Pottersville – the dystopian town in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, that Bedford Falls turned into when protagonist George Bailey’s guardian angel, Clarence created a world in which George had never born. Bedford Falls which was a quaint, family friendly town suddenly was transformed into a dreary, brutish, perverse place called Pottersville.
Pottersville was a hive of sin and villainy, overrun with crime and corruption. The Main Street of Bedford Falls which had been lined with a soda shop, a movie theater, the Emporium department store, and the Building and Loan where George had worked most of his life providing good, affordable housing for the citizens, had been replaced by a sleazy bar, sordid nightclubs, a burlesque club, and the Building and Loan had been turned into a brothel. The local tavern had become a seedy dive that only “serves hard liquor to men who want to get drunk quickly”. George’s own childhood home was now a transient boarding house run by his childless widowed mother.
The citizens of Pottersville had become angry, bitter, cynical versions of their Bedford Falls’ selves. There was a meanness and nastiness to Pottersville that was alien to friendly, caring, neighborly Bedford Falls. Bert, the cab driver, in Bedford Falls is a married man with a child living in a nice house in a nice community; the Bert, in Pottersville, is a divorced working stiff living in a shack in the slums who hasn’t seen his child in two years.
It is as if about 15 years ago, the United States version of George Bailey wanted to see what life in America would be like if he had never been born, and we have been forced to live through that. It’s like we have been transported into this alternate reality, Bizarro America, where homeless encampments line city streets, drug paraphernalia and human feces littered our sidewalks, violent crime is way too commonplace, overdose deaths are at an all-time high, towns are overrun by illegal immigrants, 6-year-olds are being groomed sexually by teachers, and drag queens are reading story time to toddlers.
Like in Pottersville, American citizens are now angry and bitter. Vitriol and hate are poisoning our social and political discourse. The country is divided, too many people are cynical and hate-filled without compassion nor forgiveness. There’s an anger and meanness to the country. It feels like we are living in a world where George Bailey had never been born, where his goodness had never existed.
In the movie, George Bailey’s self-sacrificing ways, looking out for the good of others over himself, giving up his dreams for the sake of the community, kept Bedford Falls wholesome by, time and again, preventing the town from slipping into the grips of immoral real estate mogul, Mr. Potter, and devolving into Pottersville. But far too often, we have let America fall into the hands of the selfish, the greedy and the divisive. We have let the corruption of our self-serving political leaders turn America into one big Pottersville.
And it all makes sense. This is what they want. A few years ago, left-wing, Esquire magazine, ran an article claiming that living in Pottersville is preferable to Bedford Falls. The disintegrating state of America today is not simply the offshoot of good-hearted policies that went awry. This is all been done by design. Why do you think Joe Biden opened our border allowing tons of fentanyl to stream into this country destroying the fabric of our communities with addiction and death? Why do you think Democrats defunded the police which increased crime in major cities by 40-50%? Why do you think Democrats want to build section 8 housing in the middle of the suburbs which eviscerates the whole idea of the suburbs? No politician who was truly interested in doing what’s best for America would support any of those policies.
“Bedford Falls” is precisely what the left has been attacking in America for the last 50 to 60 years – the wholesomeness, the goodness of America – the friendly, God-fearing town lined with white picket fences. The left has been on a mission to destroy that America. That is why they laser focus on everything that was ever bad about American history and completely ignore any of the good. They must attack America’s founding and history, so they can destroy the idea of America and Americanism.
The left will even attack the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, calling it a “white savoir trope”, because in their minds, white people cannot be good, cannot be heroic. White people and men are bad and evil, so it is wrong to make a white man a protagonist. White men need to be purged from America. If George Bailey lived today, he would be derided for his white male privilege and called a white supremacist.
Throughout the movie, George Bailey battles greedy businessman Potter to thwart his attempt to control every powerful institution in town. The left’s goal is not much different from Potter’s goal. Potter wanted to own every powerful institution in Bedford Falls, and the left wants to control every powerful institution in America, and they are not that far off from accomplishing that. They control the media, the entertainment industry, academia, big tech, the intelligence agencies, and they are working hard to seize control of our military and our financial institutions. The Pottersville that we see for those 20 minutes in the movie is what we get when one power-hungry, corrupt entity controls all the powerful institutions. This is why in every communist regime and in every totalitarian state, the lives of the citizens become infinitely worse just as the lives of the people living in Pottersville did.
The America I grew up in did not look like this. People actually liked each other. We could have friends who voted for different political candidates, and still be friends. Political disagreements didn’t tear families apart. The America of my youth, just as Bedford Falls, was by no means perfect, but the foundation of the country was solid and stable. There were core values that most people could agree on. And our disagreements were more tangential than fundamental. Like George Bailey, the leaders of our past, put America’s interest first above their own. But it appears that America began to change, began to turn into Pottersville when we elected a leader who promised to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” which means intentionally destroy the foundation of our great country.
Throughout the movie, it was not simply that George Bailey outwitted Potter in his attempt to take over the town, it was more than that. It was as if the spirit and the soul of George Bailey was in every one of the citizens of Bedford Falls – his wide-eyed innocence, his optimism, his hope, his willingness to do the right thing for the other guy. A little piece of George Bailey was in everyone. And when George Bailey was removed, that little piece of him was removed from everyone as well. And as I look around America, slowly but surely that little piece of George Bailey that has been in all of us, is slowly fading away as America turns from Bedford Falls into Pottersville.
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.