House of Cards: Hint of Truth?

Like millions of other Americans, I’m a pretty big House of Cards fan. With the next season being released in just a few hours, I figured I’d take the time to incorporate some relevant aspects of the show into topics we frequently discuss. Before I get started, I’m well a ware that House of Cards is very unrealistic fiction. However, it’s got to be a gross, gross exaggeration on some element of truth. A few weeks ago, we took an in depth look at Enron and all the ethically questionable aspects of the business. What stood out to me was the relationship between Ken Lay, founder and CEO of Enron, with the Bush administration. Not only did he make massive contributions, but he was also co-chairman of Bush’s re-election committee and even on Dick Cheney’s list of industry advisors. This questionable relationship led to the deregulation of the energy market on a federal level, which Enron could take advantage of. 

In House of Cards, Raymond Tusk is the CEO of an energy firm called Clayton West, specializing in nuclear energy, coal, and natural gas. It’s soon revealed that Tusk has close ties with the president, Garrett Walker. Tusk was keen on keeping good diplomatic relationships with China so he could build a rare earth refinery there, which he tried using his relationship with Walker to ensure. The problems escalated to the point where Tusk, possibly intentionally, couldn’t fill power grids across the US, causing an energy crisis. You can see Tusk’s relationship with the President below. Clearly there are some significant differences between the case of Tusk and Ken Lay, but isn’t the underlying story the same? It’s clear that there’s a huge problem with the improper intersect of politics and business in the US. The clip below shows a little bit how the relationship in the show is definitely questionable.

My confusion is why Americans don’t seem to care. It’s everywhere we look: in our entertainment and in reality. Politics and business are mixing in a fashion that is ethically wrong, and in some cases blatantly illegal. Inside Job also did a great job illustrating all the connections between CEOs and other top executives of Wall Street firms, and their role in keeping financial markets deregulated after being appointed to positions in the Federal Reserve, presidential administrations, and other positions such as Secretary of the Treasury… at a catastrophic cost to the public. These should be issues that have American’s rallying in the streets, but nobody seems to care enough to call for change. House of Cards may be complete fiction, but it certainly has elements of truth as to the ethical flaws of government and politics.

Link to the picture used above here


3 thoughts on “House of Cards: Hint of Truth?”

  1. I think you bring up an interesting problem in our society with the intersection of business and politics. I think it is worrying and something that Americans should be concerned about. However, I think it is inevitable and comes down to the issue of power. In season three, episode two, Francis Underwood says, “I’ve always said that power is more important than money. But when it comes to elections, money gives power well, a run for its money.” Power is always something that will have influence in business and politics, and power can often be achieved with the help of money.


  2. Good to see you’ve been crushing episodes since the release Friday, hopefully it hasn’t been as detrimental to your studying as it has for mine… but that’s a good point. But don’t you think campaign money should only be allowed to be given by American citizens and not corporations? Or there should be stricter legislation regarding the relationship between business and politics, therefore regulating the essential power struggle there?


  3. I’m not entirely sure what the right answer is if there is one. It does seem that there should be some sort of limit on corporations or even wealthy individuals from mixing too much with politics. It’s disconcerting that wealthy businessmen could have an impact on who the next president will be. Here is an interesting article on the subject.


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