Arts & Culture
The Dirty Business of Politics: Street Fight
By JESSE WEISSMAN
It doesn’t surprise anybody to say that politics is a dirty business — and one that tends to ignore the substantive issues that the whole enterprise claims to be about. Especially in today’s political climate, with the 2016 presidential race more resembling a reality show competition than an election for the most important public office in the country, this circus-show aspect to American politics is as clear as ever. So when I say that the 2005 documentary Street Fight, presented on Tuesday at Cornell Cinema and directed by Marshall Curry, revealed to me new ways that politics is ugly, it would be easy to dismiss my opinion as obvious. However, the film, which is about the 2002 mayoral race between Cory Booker (now a well-known New Jersey Senator) and the long-time incumbent Sharpe James, explores just how much dirtier local politics are then, and how they allow for tactics that would be unacceptable in their national counterparts. Since Booker is a now prominent national politician, it is a bit disorienting to see him as such an upstart, going through housing projects and corner stores canvassing for every last vote.