Does anyone reading this remember Geraldine Ferraro? Just in case you were born a decade or two after me, let me refresh your memory. She served in 1984 as the Democratic Candidate for Vice President alongside Walter Mondale. They were defeated by the unstoppable second term of Reagan and Bush but still made history anyway.
She was the first female major-party national nominee.
It was significant in 1984 when people still questioned whether or not it was a woman’s place to run the country. It’s a question that still comes up today. Granted, it comes up less and less but sex is always a question in politics, especially in this country.
Considering the first female elected to Congress was in 1917, it’s amazing that we still haven’t had a female leader in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Perhaps, it’s because we haven’t seen the likes of a candidate on par with the unflappable Margaret Thatcher. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I was well aware of Margaret Thatcher. She was a regular figure on the evening news. I’ll admit that I didn’t know anything about British politics (and didn’t know much more about American politics) so I had no idea what it meant to be Prime Minister. All I knew is that she was a fixture.
It’s why I also remember being a bit shocked when she no longer served as Prime Minister. Again, not knowing anything about British politics, I had no understanding of their parties (which are remarkably similar to our own) and their electoral process.
Margaret Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister and with a tenure of almost 12 years, she was one of the longest serving in the role. These stats alone are enough to garner my interest and attention. But a quick Google search shows that she was both loved and loathed as Prime Minister and I wanted to know why.
On October 18th, BBC released a DVD entitled The Rise and Fall of Margaret Thatcher. The DVD includes three movies about Thatcher that focus on her early years (“The Long Road to Finchley”), her role in a controversial war (“The Falklands Play”), and her downfall at the hands of her trusted advisors (“Margaret”). I was given a copy to review and watched all 284 minutes of Margaret Thatcher.
I fell in love.
First off, it’s made clear that these are inspired by actual events but typically dramatizations as to what dialogue may have occurred. While keeping true to the historical facts, it’s obvious that some of the stories may be a bit fictionalized. However, I suspect that they showed the true character of who Margaret Thatcher was and is.
The Long Road to Finchley shows the early years of Margaret Roberts as a chemist whose unwavering passion was politics. She was determined to stop at nothing and seeing such drive and passion in someone who was told repeatedly that politics was no place for a woman was incredibly inspiring for me. Even as she married Denis Thatcher and gave birth to twins, she was not portrayed as a loving wife and mother. Her life and ambition was focused on politics and she that clear to her family from the start.
While she doesn’t portray an entirely sympathetic character, I found it refreshing that she was completely unapologetic about what she wanted and how she was going to get there. And above all, she achieved it ethically, something that seems to be more and more rare these days.
The Falklands Play was once deemed “too controversial to produce.” After watching, I’m not entirely sure why. Again, as a child, I remember the Falklands War but really had no clue what was going on. This particular piece was a slice right out of the war room as we were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the complex political issues involving Britain, the United States, Russia, and, of course, Argentina.
Thatcher was unwavering in her loyalty to the British subjects who were at risk of invasion from a violent and unstable government. There was loss of life which caused a lot of backlash but in the end, she bravely did not back down in the face of terrorism.
Margaret shows her last month in office as she struggled to stay true to her role as Prime Minister as her position was slowly being undermined by those closest to her. It showed her at her weakest, a stark contrast to her incredible rise to power. And it showed a woman floundering when losing the only thing she had ever worked to achieve.
Now, if you’re thinking British politics? Yawn. I encourage you to think again.
If you think that all British are tea-sipping, crumpet-eating fancy pants, you’re partially right. But Margaret Thatcher is what I would call a ball-buster. She wasn’t afraid to say what she thought and knew how to say it in a compelling way.
If you think political and historical docu-dramas are for history buffs, consider this. I am whatever the opposite of a history buff is. Now that I’m older, though, and care more about how the world works, I’m fascinated by it and find that there is always something to learn.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a fellow Conservative (American conservative, mind you) but I listened to every British word that popped out of Thatcher’s mouth and had nothing but the utmost respect for her. I found all three films to be an inspiration and a testament as to what a strong political figure should be, regardless of gender.
If there’s anybody I’d like to share tea and crumpets with, it would be Margaret Thatcher.
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