American politics as displayed in ‘The House of Cards’

When talking about American politics, House of Cards, a televised political drama, is the best display of what really goes on within the lives of the politicians. Although not accurate, the American political thriller television drama manages to give a picture of the reality and truths behind political campaigns and achievements. Beau Willimon adopts the story from a novel in which a politician, Frank Underwood, goes to extreme measures with the objective of rising from Congressman to president. This was not his initial dream, but betrayal from a close friend, President Garrett Walker, makes Frank and his wife Claire plot revenge on the Kern vowing to destroy them. Looking at chapter 3 of the House Of Cards, this essay aims at comparing the television drama to the reality of American politics in the present day.

Chapter 3 takes us back to Frank’s district, Gaffney, located in South Carolina where a young high school girl died in a tragic road accident. Not only was she texting while driving, but she was also looking at a water tower that resembles a giant peach. The existence of this water tower was due to Frank’s influence and power. At first, Frank is reluctant about leaving Washington D.C. where he has a task of taming a teacher’s union so that they may not interfere with the education bill. Ultimately, he has to leave for Gaffney because he needs the love and support of his own people during his journey up the political ladder. Gaining the love and support of his own people was not the prime reason for Frank’s visit to Gaffney but rather the threat from Oren Chase. Frank fears Oren might end up taking his congress seat by blaming the existence of the giant peach for the death of the schoolgirl. From these developments, it is evident that neither of the politicians is concerned about the wellbeing of the family that has just lost their daughter. They are both interested in using the tragedy for personal political gains. This portrays the nature of politicians who often attend burial and public functions to gain favor of the people and create a platform for supporters during their campaigns (Entman, Callaghan and Schnell, 34).


During the mourning period, Frank tries to talk to the parents of the girl who passed on but the father does not want to listen to him because he has already picked sides with Oren. On his way out Frank sees the priest and confronts him. He manages to persuade the priest to give him time to talk at the service during the day of the burial. Underwood gives a touching speech on how people get angry towards God when facing calamities. His speech wins back the favor of the parents and they are ready to listen to him after. In American politics, many politicians use religion as a platform for political achievements. This is because many human beings have faith in what they do not see and many politicians take advantage of this by giving promises of things they are not ready to achieve (Entman, Callaghan and Schnell, 35). Having faith is strength for many citizens but politicians use it as a weakness. Finally, Frank manages to turn the tables on Oren by blaming him for the lack of guardrails claiming that it contributed to the death of the girl in the accident and threatens him about the power lines meant to pass through his home. This is a display of reality where American politicians use their power, corrupt ways, and connections to oppress or blackmail potential leaders who have the nation’s interest at heart (Entman, Callaghan and Schnell, 38).

Communication between Zoe Barnes, a journalist on the rise to stardom, and Frank Underwood shows that Frank is the person feeding her with information about other politicians. This information gets Zoe an upgrade to the front page and even gets her interviews on live television. In real life, American politicians use the media to pass out wrong or private information about their counterparts in order to achieve their political gains (Entman, Callaghan and Schnell, 45). The social media has become one of the greatest platforms to start rumors and spread propaganda so that politicians can intimidate other politicians. A politician whose image is spoilt on social media is unlikely to get the votes of the people because morals go hand in hand with leadership and a proper leader gets a large number of followers. Amendment of the education bill is also evident when Frank sets up a team of young interns to draft the education bill and meets up with the teachers’ union in order to leverage them into getting it approved by the congress. Similar to American politics, proposing of the amendment was done by the congress and passed through two thirds of the majority votes in both The House of Representatives and the Senate.

The television drama House of Cards is delightful to watch and portrays the real events of the American politics. It shows the audience how democracy in the present day is overrated since the people voted in office have the power to do what they want while the citizens have no right. It also shows how power is corrupt and how corrupt people seek power. The series is a display of how corporate masters control the politicians and how close to impossible it is for politics to deliver justice to all its citizens.

Works Cited

Entman, Robert M, Karen Callaghan, and Frauke Schnell. Framing American Politics. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005. Print.