The West Wing – a spectrum of acceptable opinion.

The West Wing series is great, a fine example of intelligent, politically focused scripts which cover any number of political issues, at the same time drawing you in to often feel sympathetic towards the main characters. You don’t have to be a fan of Martin Sheen, US politics and the White House, to enjoy it, although a similar treatment of the Kremlin might possibly lack in appeal! And, we can’t say we’re not used to the genre!

I’m not a devotee, but in series 7, there’s an entire episode spent purely on a US presidential debate between the two candidates, Democrat and Republican. Surely this was ground-breaking for a series, outside of actual real debates themselves, although Alan Alda was always going to make it more palatable!?

A lot of truth on the American situation is spoken – one reason why it is so popular among a great many people, especially those interested in politics, aware of how it is fought over, and controlled, and also how important it is in covering health, education, war, welfare, and so on.

In series 7 a nuclear accident happens on the Californian coast. It gets lots of coverage and influences the fictional electoral outcome. That was a few years ago but in it, it previsioned Fukushima 2011, a nuclear accident (on a much greater scale) and which arguably affects Americans more than the fictional events affected the fictional population (who fled the area en masse).

Despite covering important themes in different ways, at all times it continues the myth of noble America:

  • The myth of the world’s remaining superpower, with US peacekeepers keeping a fragile peace in Israel-Palestine – instead of an America which arms Israel to the teeth occasionally selling Palestinians a dodgy roadmap.
  • Yet another full-scale invasion is portrayed as an intervention to prevent a Russian and Chinese standoff  instead of the reality of unjustifiable invasions like Iraq, killing 1.5 million people, or Vietnam killing 3-4 million locals (or 58,000 GIs if you were educated in the US), or any of 100 interventions, invasions, coups and destabilisations since World War II, all favouring power – but not people.
  • The myth of an honourable US military is challenged by the revelation of a secret military space shuttle, flagging up the militarisation of space, an important issue (undoubtedly much further advanced than we have ever been told to date) but not that it has been America leading the arms race for decades, and with such an immoral level of defence spending as if it’s designed to take on the rest of the world (which it is).
  • The myth of Democrats being for socialisation and Republicans about tax-cuts is well-played, but unaddressed is the real power of big business and finance which pays both their elections bills, expected to be over $1 billion EACH this year!

Some home myths are challenged strongly, that government healthcare insurance for over-65s, MediCare, is hugely expensive – is outed as having only 2% administration costs (although 6% may be truer taking in  advantages of government), and progressive campaigns pushed such as education should have a better-rewarded professional teaching workforce.

The series covers huge amounts of ground, as American politics does, wherever money is involved, in fact. But what it provides is the spectrum of acceptable opinion.

Yet, it comes across in such a polished and personal manner that such good people in the White House couldn’t possibly miss out the little things like 21% of kids in poverty or the US of A being at world number 38 for life expectancy! Or the astounding 1 in 100 figure for those in the prison system, in the Land of the Free…

Which series will it be that challenges America’s subversive role in the world, or its major inequality at home while outing the roles of big business, which can get protective laws changed resulting in wrecking the global economy, resulting in new, patented, forms of life, improperly tested and with effects for generations to come, not just the current generation of small farmers lives and livelihoods being wrecked, which can make a killing out of a global flu scare, which turns out to be hype, which can fabricate a war for oil?

For some things, it will take more than just a change of administration ans American politics shouldn’t be judged by its effective portrayals by Hollywood.

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