I’m passionate about Draw the Lines and all the possibilities it unleashes because I’m a big Jimmy Stewart fan.
Maybe it’s his resemblance to my father, Dick Thornburgh, our former governor and U.S. attorney general: the quiet, somewhat patrician demeanor, the small-town Pennsylvania roots.
I have always, and will always, get tears in my eyes when I watch the Frank Capra/Stewart masterpieces It’s a Wonderful LIfe and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. No one embodied better than Stewart the sense that individual people make a difference in the world, even when faced with a political or social system that all too often stacks the deck against them.
Watch the earnest exhaustion and suffering on Jeff Smith’s face as he filibusters on the Senate floor, or the exhilaration as his Boys Nation followers do their best to bring Claude Rains’ corrupt regime to its knees. Watch George Bailey’s friends and neighbors save him from his own despair, a good man the system (and Old Man Potter) seem bent on destroying.
It’s that spirit — one person standing up for what’s right, whose determination inspires those around him to rally to the cause — that embodies to me much of what’s right about this country, our heritage, history and values.
That’s what I saw in Amanda Holt’s story: One woman, bucking the odds, the naysayers and the detractors, standing up for what was right, armed with nothing more than the law and the sense that in this country everyone has the right and the responsibility to make a difference.
At a deeply troubling time in our nation’s political history, it’s time we reminded ourselves, and each other, that Jimmy Stewart still walks among us.
As Draw the Lines builds momentum and spreads across the Commonwealth, I am so looking forward to seeing citizen mappers step forward — regular folks young and old from Monessen and Manheim and Marietta — to remind us that they’re ready, willing and able to make democracy greater again.
I’m deeply thankful for all who have supported this project, and most grateful to my friend, colleague and co-conspirator Chris Satullo for his inspiration, perseverance, and plain old hard work.