The West Wing has come under fire from one-time or would-be fans, who see in its vision of politics something that has come to hamstring the Democratic Party by forever tying it to stentorian speechifying and Clintonian third-way politics. The Bartlet administration, after all, represents a very ‘90s view of the left-wing coalition....The West Wing has come to so thoroughly define the way that many in the center-left have come to think about Washington that it’s had a deleterious effect on their beliefs about how Washington should work. On the one hand, The West Wing holds up as ideal comfort food television. But on the other, its politics are profoundly limited....The most significant shift in Democratic politics since The West Wing left the air is tactical. Younger left-leaning voters increasingly don’t believe the Republican Party, as currently constituted, is capable of compromise — and not without reason. There is a growing desire among some Democratic voters to see their party play hardball, to impeach Trump, to maybe even pack the Supreme Court in an effort counterbalance what many of these voters see as the theft of a seat that might otherwise have belonged to Merrick Garland.Such a shift in tactics would be anathema to Jed Bartlet’s staffers, who never met a problem they couldn’t solve with a beautiful, soaring bit of rhetoric that convinced everybody their center-left proposals were the correct way forward. But, as many on the party’s leftmost flank would now argue, the failure of Barack Obama’s administration to win over Republican legislators, despite having one of the most gifted orators in generations behind the bully pulpit, would seem to unseat The West Wing’s ideals, to firmly prove you can’t solve all society’s ills with the right speech and a little politesse.
September 18, 2019 at 2:22 PM EDT