Steven Garza is the underdog in the mock-race for governor in the documentary Boys State. He counts Bernie Sanders among his political heroes. Since they were founded in the 1930s by the American Legion, the Boys State and Girls State programs have been giving high schoolers a practical education in how government works. Students in every state are chosen to take part in a week-long summer experiment in which they must form their own representative democracy. As we learn from the opening credits of the terrific new documentary Boys State , Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Cory Booker are just a few of the program’s famous alums.
The film, directed by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss, focuses on the Texas Boys State event that took place in June 2018. We see the roughly 1,200 participants arriving in Austin, where they are randomly divided into two political parties: the Federalists and the Nationalists. Those names carry no agenda: It’s up to both parties to hammer out a platform, choose their leaders and then run against each other in a week-long election campaign.
McBaine and Moss throw us into this mock government exercise without much preamble or explanation of the rules […]
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