Tonight, tonight…
 
Moviegoers will have the chance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film version of the groundbreaking Broadway musical West Side Story with a one-night only screening in theaters nationwide
 
Socialist movers, Ayn Rand shakers, and every politico in between should do us a favor and see it.
 
Most performing arts fans know that West Side Story is a scene-for-scene retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story.  The 20th century makeover of Shakespeare’s tragic tale of star-crossed lovers separated by their warring clans is set in a 1950s Manhattan slum. 
 
The teenage boys in both stories have way too much time on their hands.  Shakespeare’s Montagues and Capulets are idle rich.  They have hated each other for so long that nobody alive knows when the feud started, or why.
 
West Side Story’s Jets are a white working class gang. “Depraved on account of [we’re] deprived,” the Jets are so far down on New York’s economic ladder that they had nobody to whom they could feel superior until the Sharks, newly arrived from Puerto Rico, challenged them for tiny pieces of neighborhood turf.
 
When it comes to fixating on the meaningless, the Jets and Sharks got nothin’ on us.
 
Congress’ 9% approval rating is a stunning but by no means singular symptom of a political class lacking the ability to engage itself in dialogue aimed at fixing problems rather than fixing blame. 

With the economy in free fall, we are subjected to the surreal spectacle of the House of Representatives reaffirming ‘In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States. Unlike our leaders, Tony, the doomed hero of West Side Story, knew that God helps those who help themselves.

West Side Story audiences meet Tony at Doc’s Drugstore where he’s hauling boxes for minimum wage, just hours before he loses his heart to Maria, the kid sister of the Sharks’ leader Bernardo.   Tony founded the Jets with his best friend Riff, and knew that it was easier to hang out with your pals and hurl invective at “those others” than to do honest, boring work.  But he’s figured out that “something’s coming, something good, if I can wait.”
 
Unlike Tony, our leaders don’t put much stock in deferred gratification.  They’re more like Riff and Bernardo: quick to pull out the switchblades, with no thought about the lasting, tragic consequences that always follow.

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Florence Snyder is a corporate and First Amendment lawyer. Contact her at lawyerflo@gmail.com. Today she’s celebrating her mom’s birthday too.