I was late coming to The West Wing, but it's one of my favorite things. So much so that I invested in the whole series on DVD. I decided that at some point I would start at the beginning and, one episode a week, I'd do it all over again.
This January was when I began to do it all over again.
Sadly, it's so many of the same issues. Gun control, campaign finance reform. Gays in the military, and in America in general, was the one bright exception.
Today I watched the episode called, "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet." It is fraught with frustration, as poll numbers drop and the press corps, the military chiefs and Congress let Jeb Bartlet know in no uncertain terms that he is just not going to make a difference.
Turns out that he hasn't been trying that hard. It turns out that winning a second term has become more important than any of the issues that made it worth running for President in the first place.
And by the end of the episode there is a rousing turning point, wherein the President and the staff of the West Wing determine that the most important thing is fighting for those ideals.
I think we're all pretty sick of politics. Of politicians saying what they think we want to hear. President Obama's poll ratings go up when he speaks his mind. The trick is not to pay attention to the poll ratings, but to keep paying attention to what is on his mind, and to keep speaking to it.
Gun control, campaign finance reform, violence against women, protecting the environment, educating our children, raising taxes to fund what our citizens need. We have seen our president step up every so often, and he gets beaten down by scandalmongers, and sometimes by his own questionable secret agendas.
Maybe it's time for that moment, where he asks himself, why am I here after all? Maybe he needs to go back and rerun those old speeches, just as I have been rerunning those episodes of West Wing. I think he too would find inspiration in those ideals spoken back when he was first running to change the country.