Not all “normals” are good, nevertheless. A part of what marks Black Lives Matter as a motion is the truth that the “regular” African-Individuals reside with, which most white Individuals have accepted for many years, is something society only confronts when there’s horrifiying video footage. The dynamic between a need for issues to suit expectations and failing to face change and develop from it has been an ongoing drawback inside American tradition—expressed via things like crimson hats, slogans like “Making America Nice Once more,” and the denial of a painful present. As a result of whether or not it’s a big group of idiots partying with out masks in the midst of a pandemic, or hostility to protesters and explaining away racism to oppressed teams, “regular” turns into extra about reaching consolation whereas discounting another person’s struggling.
Pontification about what all of it means results in phrases like “the new normal,” with the phrase courting again to at least the end of World War I however surging into widespread parlance following the Sept. 11 attacks. In apply, saying everyone seems to be experiencing a “new regular” serves to, effectively, normalize issues we’d by no means normally settle for however do now—for causes which can be legitimate or silly. Within the years after the destruction of the World Commerce Middle, when the general public was primed to be vigilant for the international terrorists who may very well be lurking amongst us as our neighbors, bracing for the following assault on American soil grew to become the fearful justification for launching assaults across the planet. Daily life existed under a color-coded threat system, and Individuals accepted Patriot Acts and secret prisons, all within the title of freedom. All of this was heralded as a brand new regular for a society which must accede to compromises in order to be safe. Nearly 20 years faraway from the occasion, worldwide terrorism has receded as a priority for many voters, since there’s a better chance of being killed by home-grown white supremacists than Islamic extremists, and conservatives are extra nervous about politically handy boogeymen like antifa. Lots of occasions the incongruity of the prices we’ve endured and the stupidity inherent to it’s pushed to the back of the mind with a South Park-esque cynicism that provides in to despair, so why care in any respect.
However once in a while there comes a second the place the excessive beliefs which got here earlier than the painful current bleed via, and the distinction of what was and what’s makes us take into consideration what may very well be … which brings us again to The West Wing.
Aaron Sorkin has warned in opposition to calling A West Wing Particular to Profit When We All Vote a “reunion,” likening a tv reunion to something The Brady Bunch cast would do. As an alternative, West Wing actors returned to their roles for a theatrical staging of the season three episode “Hartsfield’s Landing,” which was filmed on the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles (with COVID-19 protocols in place). The particular debuted Oct. 15 on HBO Max, and options Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford, Dulé Hill, Rob Lowe, and Janel Maloney returning to their outdated roles. Sterling Ok. Brown (That is Us) changed the late John Spencer as Leo McGarry, and Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Story) briefly turns into Zoey Bartlet yet one more time, together with appearances from Michelle Obama, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Samuel L. Jackson, and even former President Invoice Clinton.
Throughout a Sept. 27, 2000 interview on PBS’ Information Hour with Jim Lehrer, Sorkin defined what may very well be thought-about the central theme of the sequence.
SORKIN: “[The characters] are pretty heroic … That is uncommon in American fashionable tradition, by and huge. Our leaders, authorities persons are portrayed both as dolts or as Machiavellian in some way. The characters on this present are neither. They’re flawed, to make certain, since you want characters in drama to have flaws. However they, all of them, have put aside most likely extra profitable lives for public service. They’re devoted not simply to this president, however to doing good, fairly than doing effectively. The present is sort of a valentine to public service. It celebrates our establishments. It celebrates schooling usually. These characters are very effectively educated, and whereas typically playfully snobby about it, there may be, in all of them, a love of studying and appreciation of schooling.”
it now, the sequence can appear naive in its beliefs about establishments, however as talked about above, The West Wing, together with its religious predecessor The American President, proceeds from an idealistic, Capra-esque imaginative and prescient of American politics—one which believes within the optimistic facets of presidency and, extra importantly, the optimistic facets of the folks in authorities. In 2011, officers in Myanmar informed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that they were watching episodes of the show in order to learn about the mechanics of democracy. In the course of the 2012 election, articles have been written which argued Sorkin had been influential in shaping not solely a era of public servants, however had inspired many young people to believe in a politician who told them “yes we can.” In brief, if one thing like South Park drips in cynicism and apathy, The West Wing asks folks to provide a rattling about their nation and the world.
Because the nation shifted after the Sept. 11 assaults, which occurred through the present’s third season, the sequence’ signature walk-and-talk preachiness, with wonky anecdotes and obscure information, grew to become a response to the presidency of George W. Bush. In a rustic that typically appears to equate intelligence with condescension and elevates ignorance to a advantage, the distinction of a fictional, well-educated Democratic president, surrounded by characters united in an idea of patriotic obligation, was an entertaining refuge for some who have been weary of an actual Republican president who took the nation to struggle via fear and Freedom Fries.
In Sorkin’s political universe, most of these in authorities are respectable people who find themselves making an attempt their greatest to make a distinction. These with rules are victorious over those that unfold lies and distortions. And all that’s crucial for the very best political coverage to hold the day—regardless of how controversial it is likely to be—is the center to say what you imply and imply what you say.
The place The West Wing praises obligation, information, and sacrifice, the previous 4 years of American life have been outlined by self-importance, self-delusions, and stoked resentments writ massive. Important sectors of the tradition have been invested in reliving a brand new model of a darkish previous by embracing lies in regards to the current. As an alternative of inspiring folks to serve their authorities, the presidency has been used to spread hate and violence. The international governments and peoples which as soon as appeared to the US for management now both pity us, or laugh at us.
All of it is because what we known as regular has been below fixed assault through the Trump years. It has been pushed via a perpetual coddling of 1 fool and his legion with comforting “various information” trying to bend actuality to his superficial whims. The issue, although, is that one can’t spin a contagious disease into nothing. And a president—who nobody believes says what he means or believes what he says—can’t be trusted to guide or encourage the general public to trust in a greater future.
In a letter Sorkin famously wrote to his daughter the day after the 2016 election, most of the themes of The West Wing spring to mind, whereas being very prescient in regards to the path the nation was about to be dragged down, in denouncing Donald Trump and every little thing he represents.
The Klan received final evening. White nationalists. Sexists, racists and buffoons. Indignant younger white males who suppose rap music and Cinco de Mayo are a menace to their lifestyle (or are the rationale for his or her lifestyle) have been given trigger to have a good time. Males who haven’t any proper to name themselves that and who suppose that girls who aspire to greater than wanting scorching are shrill, ugly, and in any other case worthy of our scorn fairly than our admiration struck a blow for misogynistic shitheads all over the place.
Hate was given hope.
Abject dumbness was glamorized as being “the recent voice of an outsider” who’s going to “shake issues up.” (Did anybody trouble to ask how? Is he going to re-arrange the chairs within the Roosevelt Room?) For the following 4 years, the President of the US, the identical workplace held by Washington and Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, F.D.R., J.F.Ok. and Barack Obama, shall be held by a man-boy who’ll spend his hours exacting Twitter vengeance in opposition to all who criticize him (and people numbers shall be legion). We’ve embarrassed ourselves in entrance of our kids and the world.
The battle isn’t over, it’s simply begun. Grandpa fought in World Battle II and when he got here dwelling this nation handed him a chance to make an incredible life for his household. I cannot hand his granddaughter a rustic formed by hateful and silly males. Your tears final evening woke me up, and I’ll by no means fall asleep on you once more.
On Nov. 3, the folks of this nation will select a imaginative and prescient and the particular person they need to preside over a brand new regular. However this election is a struggle for what “regular” even means. It’s a referendum on whether or not the greater than 200,000 people who have died, and the untold others which have suffered below this administration, did so over “hoaxes” and “faux information,” or whether or not the lack of these lives and all that ache was a tragic mistake that by no means ought to have occurred. Election Day shall be a crucible over whether or not the traditional folks want to have is one which’s involved with the police murders of individuals like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
All of us need to be again to regular as quickly as potential. However, if we wish the traditional the world wants, a standard that’ll endure and assist folks, we’ll must battle for it. And that’s one thing I realized from watching The West Wing. Cynical folks would possibly view the outlook of the sequence as naive, or even wrong. However there may be energy in voting, which is the whole level of this reunion. A vote is a alternative and that alternative comes with duty and penalties. The world we reside in is the brand new regular we select and tolerate. The thrill of our collective will expressed is what that is all about. Possibly it’ll quantity to nothing. Possibly it’ll all develop into a large number. However in that place between hope and ballots there’s an opportunity, an actual likelihood, to vary the world for the higher.
And therein lies the message of The West Wing: People who consider in a candidate, a philosophy, or the beliefs of a rustic can construct their very own future … in the event that they solely present up and take a look at.
Are you ready to show up and try? With Nov. 3 just days away, there’s no time like right now to help get out the vote. Sign up with the Biden-Harris campaign to make phone calls to swing state voters from the comfort of your own home, no matter where you live. All you need is a personal computer, a quiet place in your home where you can make phone calls, and a desire to kick Donald Trump out of office.