A case for The American President

You know what I want? I want Michael Douglas from The American President to run for office in 2020. I just love this movie. I like seeing Sydney Ellen Wade, getting all up in the President’s face over global warming, making her case for the GDC. And then the White House staff confronting dirty partisan politics, striving for integrity in office. The President putting the media on blast, “Folks, a lot of people were killed last night. Let’s keep our eyes on the ball.” The love story is totally precious, too, by the way.

All of a sudden this film seems very topical. Sydney’s “Tonight I’m going to go to bed early and wake ip when there’s a new President” is a mood. It’s cheeky for her character to say it, but I like Andrew Sheppard — he wouldn’t stand for the shit we’re living in 2019. “Americans can no longer afford to pretend they live in a great society…” Ain’t that the damn truth?

I’m angry and sad tonight so I turned this movie on because it’s an old favorite. I thought of it, though, because of an actual conversation my husband and I had this evening.

It’s surreal to sit down with my partner, kids finally asleep, dish washer running, warm August night in our beautiful new city, and say the words, “We need to have a plan. If we’re in a public place with the girls and shots go out — we need to be on the same page about what we do next.”

This isn’t outrageous or paranoid. It’s not “histrionic”. It’s good sense. Because in a situation like that, if you don’t have some kind of plan and you panic, your chances of survival are greatly reduced. And not only that. If you’re in a panic, you can’t assist those around you. We need to be able to take care of one another, and that starts with conversations like this.

Unbelievable. In this America, we claim to be the moral pinnacle and yet refuse to address this problem. Two thousand one hundred mass shootings since Sandy Hook in 2011. Almost 2500 dead. Over two hundred mass shootings in the US thus far in 2019. But horror of horrors: these terrifying mass killings are just a fraction of the epidemic. Gun deaths total in the year 2019: 8778. It’s not hyperbolic to refer to this as a national health disaster.

Gun violence is undoubtedly larger than mass shootings, but in light of the shootings that occurred this weekend, I want to see people begin honestly addressing the domestic terror threat of radicalized white nationalists. We can’t afford to avoid talking about it and calling what it is. We can no longer afford to insist we live in a perfect society.

When this film was made in 1995, I’m sure the creative minds of Alan Sorkin and Rob Reiner couldn’t have imagined where we’d end up, almost 25 years later. You only have to look at their Twitter feeds to confirm that. I wonder if they think about this film like I do, in terms of an ideal. An archetype of what the presidency could look like, what the person in office could accomplish, if they’re the right type of person. Wouldn’t that be a dream come true?

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