A German Looks at Democracy in Boise, Idaho

Via signandsight, an English translation of Ekkehard Knörer’s review of Frederick Wiseman’s new documentary "State Legislature" — an almost four-hour long film about the inner workings of the Idaho State Legislature.  Knörer notes with interest that most Idaho politicians are genuine citizen-legislators (fairly common in the Western U.S.), and the close attention they pay to constituent complaints.  He wraps up his review thus:

"State Legislature" documents both the idea and the praxis of politics in America, showing how even – or precisely – at the semi-professional state level, the two are inseparably linked. The politicians we watch are shown as embodiments of the indissoluble interweaving of praxis and idea. The omnipresent reference to the founding fathers of the constitution, the ever-present antagonism – even in conservative Idaho – between the principles of freedom and control, all of this determines the most nitty-gritty debates and decision-making. Even if you don’t share many or even most of the often reactionary positions and attitudes expressed, "State Legislature" shows what holds not only this state, but the whole of the United States together: the idea that procedures must exist that give people a hearing in matters that concern them. The grandeur of this idea shines through the nuts and bolts of political workings, and Europeans can only look on in astonishment.

One thought on “A German Looks at Democracy in Boise, Idaho

  1. Might be worth a mention that next Friday there will be a rare showing of the film in Germany, in Berlin at the Arsenal cinema, 7pm. Must be recommended. Saw it at the Berlinale, too, and was overwhelmed. As good as seven seasons The West Wing 😉


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