Former Cong. Gary Franks (Courtesy Photo)

By Gary A. Franks

My favorite movie(s) of all-time is the Godfather (I & II). I remember a well-known actor saying that every question in life can be answered by a scene in the Godfather. But can it apply to the recent, never seen before 2020 presidential election? A stretch? Fuhgeddaboudit. Here we go.

One of the most moving, shocking and gruesome scenes in the Godfather was when the movie producer woke up to find the head of his prized horse in bed with him dripping in blood. Trump-Biden? This scene goes along with the not as surprising scene of the Godfather being shot several times in his backside. Sometimes you need your Luca Brasi, a street fighter. The opposition was able to take Trump’s Luca Brasi away due to their troubles with the law. This left Trump vulnerable to the “street politics” he was to engage in. Sometimes you need a Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Steve Bannon working to help you get re-elected as they played an integral role to the dismay of your foes in your upset election. They would have made sure the debates did not have rule changes at the last minute, no questions on foreign affairs? They would have made certain that there would have been no late rule changes on voting without extreme verification measures being applied. Basic stuff, but life threatening as in the Godfather.

Second Godfather moment, the funeral. Funerals are for the living not the dead. One of the most powerful moments in the Godfather was when the heads of the other top mob families all showed up for Don Corleone’s (the Godfather) funeral. Many in attendance hated the Don in fact at least one tried to kill him in the aforementioned scene. Yet, they were all there to offer their condolences to the Corleone family. Yet, even at the funeral the Don’s enemies were laying the groundwork for another attack against the Don’s family (Michael the son). Trump vs Biden? Of course! Funerals played a key role in this election. We had three prominent funerals all monopolized the media, and rightfully so. The deaths of Senator John McCain, Congressman John Lewis and George Floyd all played a role in the election. Does anyone not believe that Trump would not have carried Arizona without the McCain family joining forces with Biden? The margin of victory for Biden was razor thin and McCain was an Arizona legend. Speaking of legends, the snubbing of John Lewis hurt many in the Black community. Do you not think that some folks worked extra hard in Atlanta (where he was a congressman for 30 years) to defeat Trump in another razor thin election? George Floyd’s death in the Midwest, Detroit and Milwaukee played key roles in razor thin elections. We will come back to that later. In none of these cases would a speech be expected or desired, just your presence. 

The third and last scene that ties to the Trump-Biden election is subtle but pivotal to Michael Corleone’s triumph. When driving down Havana street during the rise of Fidel Castro Michael sees rebels struggling, fighting, resisting arrest from the military police. Instead of being arrested the rebel uses a hidden grenade to blow up the military police as he died himself, turning it into a suicide mission. What Michael realizes in this unscripted event was that the rebels in Cuba hated their existence and wanted to fight perceived injustice to the point of death if need be. Michael understood from that example that the rebels could win. He hedged his bet and had an exit plan from Cuba unbeknownst to friends and foes. Trump – Biden? Exactly! Trump missed his Michael Corleone street example because he never went to see the Blacks families who were in pain over the death of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd or any of the other families, Kenosha, Wis., which he lost by a very slim margin as well. An unscripted visit to either family, welcomed or unwelcomed by Black leaders, would have melted the Black community a little more and with the closeness of the election, that “little more” would have been enough.  You would have understood the degree of pain all Blacks were feelings. You would have altered your strategy, just like Michael did in the Godfather. This change along with the other two changes and the election would have been different.

Gary A. Franks served three-terms as U.S. representative for Connecticut’s 5th District. First Black Republican elected to the House in nearly 60 years & New England’s first Black Member of the House. Taught at Georgetown, UVA and Hampton University. He is host of the podcast We Speak Frankly. Follow him @GaryFranks.

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