A Hundred and Fifty Bucks a Week

The Problem with Democrats (and politicians in general)

A Hundred and Fifty Bucks a Week
(From Bill and Ted… because… it’s… like… bodacious, Dude)

The Problem with Democrats (and politicians in general).

Bear with me as we travel back in time, way back, to the distant year… 2000.

Back in the year 2000, the 4th episode of season 2 the hit TV series The West Wing broadcast to viewers across the nation. For many, this show was the epitome of Democratic Party Ideals™— it was, and still is, the show which captures the imagination of a very particular sort of mind: that of the Democratic political moderate.

The West Wing itself illustrated the perspective of the moderate perfectly in the aforementioned 4th episode of season 2. During a conversation about a fictional AIDS drug being sold at exorbitant prices, the following conversation took place between two leading characters. They’re talking about the out-of-pocket cost for a medication needed to save thousands of lives.DONNA
How prohibitively priced are the drugs?

They cost about a hundred and fifty bucks a week.

Well, that's not totally off the charts.

The West Wing characters: Donna Moss and Josh Lyman

We’ve all seen those articles about the member of Congress or the Senate who goes out and tries to live on a “average person’s” budget for a week. These accounts always seem to do one thing really well: that the people running our society — the ones we have chosen to lead us — have no idea what most of us actually do in order to survive.

Can you imagine a world where a hundred and fifty bucks a week out of your paycheck for a medication you need to survive would be reasonable?

Jumping back to the future… and mixing my archaic pop-culture metaphors!

Alright, so fast-forward back to the present day.

This is about more than just picking on TV series now two decades old. And, it’s about more than picking on “moderate” Democrats (though they’re definitely to blame for a lot of the problems we face).

The humorous point is the disconnection between our cultural leaders— the people who are responsible for depicting the supposedly normal aspects of the world — and the lives of the people who actually comprise society. If our policymakers are out of touch, then our media leaders are often even more so. And yet, in the absence of a strong education system in the country, most Americans learn their cultural norms and political stances from the media they consume.

It’s problematic that the issues in this episode of The West Wing were discussed as reasonable — that they were not depicted as outlandish failings of a drowning society. Worse, The West Wing offered an ostensibly forward-thinking political ideology in dramatic form; the issues considered in the storylines of that series were hot-button topics at the time. Now, the dramatic scandals of the show feel like pale imitations of the real scandals faced in democracies around the world during the twenty-teens and twenty-twenties. And yet, our dialog on the other important things remains the same: we still speak as if collaboration across party lines mattered! In the face of climate catastrophe and mass monopolization of corporate power, anyone who isn’t fighting tooth and nail to solve our problems is a servant of humanity’s destruction; we don’t have time to play political games.

Hi there! I’m Odin Halvorson, a librarian, independent scholar, film fanatic, fiction author, and tech enthusiast. If you like my work and want to support me, please consider becoming a paid subscriber for as little as $2.50 a month!

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