The West Wing

I first wrote this in mid-October of 2020.  It was hiding on my computer and I forgot to share it.  This is a brutally honest reaction to a difficult time.  We are not out of the woods yet, but I didn’t want let my kind words about the TV show The West Wing to be missed. 

It’s been almost 15 years since the last episode of this political epic.  I have watched the entire series at least three times now.  My most recent viewing was within the last week.  I know it is not a coincidence that the real presidential election in the United State is only a few weeks away.  The West Wing is a realistic fantasy.  A world that we want to live in.  Loosely based on the White House staff of the mid-90s, we see a world of classic technology and only a few outdated (i.e. politically incorrect) references.  I wonder what the future young adults will say about our current TV and Film choices.  Despite these flaws, the show holds up very well.  The show is a writer’s dream.  It has these incredible stretches of dialog at a pace that is only rivaled by something like Gilmore Girls or The Newsroom.  To be fair, The Newsroom was also written by Aaron Sorkin.  There is a rapid-fire melody that carries you through each episode as we conquer the twisted road of life in the West Wing. 

The cast and creators describe the show as a series of personal stories with politics and government as a backdrop.  Each character has a deep and evolving story that shows personal growth over the series.  It never loses its “awe” factor.  The staff support the president in all that he does, professional and personal.  Decisions are discussed and debated and the president makes several difficult calls. 

Some of the political issues that are being brought forward in the show seem out of date as the country has already pushed the ideas from the show into real life.  There has been some real progress in moving the country to a more global-friendly position.  We have been a big player on the world stage for a long time, but in the more recent timeframe, we have taken a posture of nationalism.  A position that will not be productive in the long term. 

One of the things that scared me to death was how the divisiveness of the two major political parties played out in the show.  They are polar opposites and always working to jam through a bill that screws the other side.  This seems to be a direct parallel to our current situation.  We sit here, almost trapped at home, because of a virus that has made its way around the world.  Our federal government (primarily Congress) is fighting over how many billions of dollars will they spend on some sort of relief package based on mandated shutdowns. 

Shut it down, yes.  Don’t spread the virus.  Wear a mask.  This I get.  What I don’t get is holding up large decisions in Congress because you don’t think it is enough money for your version of helping people.  This is a universal problem and political party should have nothing to do with it.  People are starving, people are more than three months behind on bills, banks are having to deal with loan defaults, people are losing their houses and cars.  Don’t misunderstand me, I think people need to be responsible and not take on debt they can’t handle.  I believe that most people do not have enough savings in the bank (including me).  I think we are addicted to credit cards and the government doesn’t worry about it as it stimulates the economy with more tax money. 

However, even if you are able to pay off your debts in a timely manner, what happens when your job gets “turned off” because of a pandemic? A pandemic that will take months to end.  We are still waiting on a vaccine for this new strain of virus.  It could be another 8 to 12 months away, even now.  We need new ideas.  We need new leadership.  We need money pumped into the economy and we need a few large businesses to fail.  I’m sorry, but if you don’t have six months to a year of savings in the bank, then you don’t deserve to last as a business.  I know that is harsh, but this is the world we live in.  I don’t get a break and neither should you.  The Government is not any better.  Debt up their eyeballs and then lecturing people about paying their credit card bill on time.  Right. 

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